I am writing this story from the perspective of a five-year American immigrant to Haifa, Israel. Many of my years in America were spent on the beautiful Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. By many people's standards I enjoyed a quiet, idyllic life of peaceful serenity. Many of my thoughts and those of my neighbors-were filled with green surroundings, beautiful lakes, and regional wildlife. My life as an Oleh (immigrant) is certainly far from serene.Why did I make this dramatic change in my life? There are many reasons. The most important is that I firmly believe that the return of the Jewish people to the land of our roots is destiny. It is a destiny with spiritual, religious, social, and political implications that have already proven to have historical implications.
Haifa Tiyelut or Board Walk and view of the port
At some point in your first few months as a new immigrant in Israel reality sets in and challenges replace idealism. You realize that, even though your decision was the correct one, you still must overcome some hurdles that you hadn't expected before your sojourn to the holy land. My experience has been that dealing with the differences in culture are the greatest obstacles to overcome for new Olim to Israel. I have also learned that my prejudices are an obstacle for me as well. I brought a series of expectations of life in Israel that turned out to be very different than reality. Israel is a nation of seven million people from numerous social and cultural backgrounds. Twenty per cent of Israelis are Muslim, Christian, Druze and other faiths in addition to the Jewish citizens of this new nation. There are three national languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Russian is widely spoken.
Even though they teach you the word "savlanut" or patience, no one seems to have any. There is no shame in asking. You can negotiate a parking fine and generally get out of it. No one will refund your money, once you've parted with it, it is gone for good. Refunds, even at many large stores tend to be a difficult battle at best.
It might seem to the readers that I am frustrated or even angry at the spiritual nature of my new neighbors. I have learned to ignore the gossip and occasionally greed surrounding me. I try to remind myself that many of my new friends come from backgrounds where it was prohibited or even dangerous to speak openly or enjoy opportunities that we all take for granted. I have learned to truly appreciate the freedoms that I enjoyed in The United States and now enjoy in Israel.
"Above all, this country is our own. Nobody has to get up in the morning and worry what his neighbors think of him. Being a Jew is no problem here." Thank you Golda Meir!