Friday, September 5, 2008

Proud Of Aliyah Rates?

People in the community seem to take pride in Teaneck's high rate of Aliyah to Israel. It's certainly something to be proud of. But we make no mention of the equally high rates (maybe even higher rates) of "yerida" from Israel to Teaneck.
My feeling is these "yordim" should not be accorded honors in our synagogues or schools. These people are the antithesis of what we want to teach our children, of how we want to live.
For most religious Zionists, of which Teaneck has more than a few, the goal is to end up in Israel.
Having "yordim" as community leaders here is bad public policy.
Recently, one of the largest synagogues in town installed a "yored" as its president. Our schools honor "yordim" on a regular basis at their dinners. "Yordim" make up a large percentage of our school's hebrew teachers.
While "yerida" may not be a sin on a level with Shabbat desecration, it is certainly not something we should be proud of. Those who leave Israel and move (permanently) to our community should be shunned.
What say you?


Anonymous said...

Shunning is too good for them!

Public humiliation is better!

All Yerida should be required to wear a conspicuous "Y" on their outer garments.

And as for those women who dare to wear pants - they must be exiled at once!

Anonymous said...

So why are these folks leaving the Land of Milk and Honey?

Anonymous said...

According to an article in the Hebrew HaAretz about a month ago, over 60% of the people who made aliyah return after about five years. There are a lot of reasons for this and I'm sure that at this late hour I'll forget some but here goes.

90% of people making aliyah now are doing it through Nefesh b'nefesh, so the Israel agency no longer sends representatives (shalichim) out to the rest of the country to recruit. Why waste the money when Nefesh b'nefesh will do it for free? Nefesh b'nevesh will only recruit in a few cities - Teaneck, Baltimore, Boston, L.A., and a few more. How about the rest of the country?

The majority of people making aliyah now are professionals, doctors, lawyers, computer people etc. and the country is flooded with them. Its been a long time since an avacado grower or a diesel bus mechanic made aliyah. These people don't live in the aliyah targeted areas and this is not an idealistic generation like the people who came in the 60s and early 70s were. Many people, remember how "wonderful" their year in Israel was, visit frequently on U.S. DOLLARS and have a very rude awakening upon actually living there. Here are the top reasons for people's return to the U.S. by people I know who have returned.

1) if you don't do real army you are never truly a part of Israeli society. Being in the army at 18 is like joining a fraternity. You make all your life long connections there. If you flit in and out of the army you are in different units and the connections and bonding are not the same. If you come to Israel in your 30s and guard the border part time you are a joke to the natives. People who are raised in cities like Hertilia get the "prime" army jobs, are in the top echelon of society and laugh at the Americans and other "anglos". You think the hesder yeshivot are so virtuous? The natives just say, "yeah, big deal. they should be serving but they are not so virtuous."

2)poor medical care. That's right. They are still a socialist country and do triage with medical conditions. If you truly make aliyah and become a part of the medical system you don't get the "extras" like more than 2 choices of antibiotics if you need it. If you are alergic to penicillian you might have to wait a few days to get another perscription. Yes. it happens. If you are a woman in your 50s and need chemotherapy for breast cancer, you can wait a few weeks if the drugs are on order, there is a shortage and a younger person needs it. I know of 5 "older" families who were not wealthy but returned to the states cutting their dream retirement short because of serious illness.

3)IDT has basically gone belly up and most of Jerusalem lost their jobs with them.

4) Jerusalem and suburbs where most of the religious Jews are moving has a -2% economic growth rate. That's right. The Chareidim are taking over and they don't work or produce anything. Tel Aviv has a + 6% annual growth rate but the American (Teaneck) people are not moving there. THey want to be in their comfortable English speaking suburbs, recreate their American lives in Israel to feel like virtuous "religious" Jews.

People are leaving Israel for the same reason the natives of Israel (you know, allthose guys in the electronic stores, shmata sellers and real estate rental agents) and our ancestors (pre WWII) in Europe are leaving. They are starving and see better opportunities elsewhere. You can be as critical as you want to about people who come back but hey, Teaneck Talk, I don't see you moving there so quickly.

What Lola Wants said...

Let's see...
I have been a religious zionist all my life, I have NO DESIRE to move to Israel, I own stock in many Israel companies (which are doing very well thank you), now tell me again what YOU have done lately about moving to Israel? You are living in Teaneck because....

Ari said...

This is a really interesting issue. As someone who is from NJ (though I'm from Highland Park and not Teaneck) and has made Aliyah I feel like I might have an interesting view point on this. In fact, I even write a well known blog on the whole topic of Aliyah ( and still live in Jerusalem.
Anyway, despite all of my Aliyah affiliations I am still a bit surprised by the harsh tone of the author and some posters. Moving to Israel is certainly not an easy thing to do. I know that the struggle to adopt is a day to day battle. I have dedicated a good portion of my life to the encouragement of Aliyah and yet, still, it's tough to judge the people who don't make the move. Should they not be allowed to hold certain positions? Possibly. I guess it would definitely send a message. But I know that I would personally have a tough time enforcing such a law. It would be a very difficult situation to be in and I'm interested in hearing some more thoughts and some ideas of how this may turn out.


Ari said...

BTW Out Of Rightfield:
I posted about this piece over at my blog (see address in my post above and my signature). Again, I think it's a fantastic topic. Looking forward to hearing from you.


Anonymous said...

Without a doubt, anyone who has contributed more to Israel than these yordim has every right to look down on them!

The trouble, of course, is that a lot of people in Teaneck have a pretty inflated idea of their own importance to the Zionist enterprise. If you want to know why Israel lives, buy a ticket and make your first stop from the airport Har Hertzl. That's why.

The yerida phenomenon is a terrible thing and we ought to do our best to prevent it. But anyone who has served in the army is still far higher in my eyes than anyone who hasn't.

In other words: the good people of Teaneck need to stop spending their time, if that's what they're doing, making negative judgments about other people, and start looking in the mirror and asking themselves whether they are doing their own hishtadlut. As the Spanish proverb goes, reading about a bullfight is not at all the same thing as being in the ring. Until you have done and been through what most born Israelis have done and been through, and until you know why they have left Israel, you ought to be reminding yourself that "Hamishpat LaShem Elokeynu" - Judgment is God's - not yours.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:18

"The yerida phenomenon is a terrible thing and we ought to do our best to prevent it."

Prevent it? Ask anyone who has come back. Its purely economical. Maybe we should be teaching our children to have other professions such as contractors, and more blue collar jobs that the country is overflowing with Americans. There are too many American doctors and lawyers out there who can't make it.

Going to Israel every summer and buying souviners on Ben Yehuda street is not supporting the locals. If you are a business person, start or if you can relocate your business in Israel and hire locals.

Everything else that you said Anonymous I agree with. There is too much judgement in this town and it usually comes from people who can't even live up to their own standards. By the way, how many salaries of new Olim do you think the cost of building an "Alex" house would equal?

Yoni said...

You have a lot of nerve criticising others for moving from Israel when you yourself live comfortably here.

I lived in Israel for 3 years & moved back here so I guess I am technically a "yored". My wife and I had to sacrifice tremendously to live in Israel & eventually moved back but at least we gave it a try.

My brother served in the army in Israel & he too moved back to America & is therefore a yored. He put his life on the line for Israel. What have you ever done for Israel?

My brother served in the army

Out Of Rightfield said...

Maybe I should clarify my opinion a bit more.
I have absolutely no right to question "yordim" about their life decisions. What they do is their business, whether I like it or not. I'm not suggesting kicking them out of shul or kicking their kids out of school (although they kind of mess up the Ivrit B'Ivrit programs when they have a sort of unfair head start versus the other children).
My qualm is when these people are given positions of authority in the overall jewish community, or are honored by local jewish institutions.

Ari said...

I agree. There is a big difference and that definitely needs to be qualified. Again, I live in Israel and still have a hard time questioning those who don't. It is certainly not easy.


Yoni said...

Saying that they shouldn't have positions of authority and shouldn't be honored is still punishing them.

You should be thanking them for living part of their lives in Israel when most American Jews haven't spent ANY significant part of their lives in Israel.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Yoni but why should they be honored for not being able to hack it out and staying in Israel?

But then on the other hand perhaps they should be honored for being smart enough for leaving a country where you have to worry if your gonna get blown up or shot at each day. I mean who in their right mind would want to live there when they can stay nice and safe in gang infested Teaneck?!

Anonymous said...

So, if you move to Israel and move back, you shouldn't be allowed to have a position of honor.

If you spend your whole life in this country, then you're eligible to be honored?

Good logic.

So, if some 20 year old moves to Israel, comes back 10 years later to take care of his ailing parent(s), who with his help stays on this Earth another 10 years, while he is here he shouldn't be allowed to be honored.

But, someone who stays here and perhaps treats his parents disrespectfully every day - now there is a leader!

Why must we continually judge our fellow person? Who knows why someone chose to move back? Who are we to make judgements even WITH reasonable knowledge, yet alone without ANY knowledge...

Anonymous said...

I've lived in many communities in this country in my life (I'm no youngster) and Teaneck is BY FAR the most self righteous and judgmental community that I have come across. You guys LOOK for things to fight over!!!

PublicSchoolParent said...

I have to make an observation -- and I'm not trying to start an argument. I'm a secular, left leaning Jew who lives in Teaneck who moved to Teaneck 16 years ago for its diversity (a diversity which seems to be decreasing, but that's another subject)

The Suburbanite recently had a glowing article about a family making Aliyah and I have to say that my first reaction -- my gut reaction -- was that this was bordering on being UnAmerican! I don't just mean their leaving, I mean the whole tone of the article. That an American newspaper (yeah, I know it's just the Suburbanite) would CELEBRATE someone leaving America -- amazing!!!! -- and I'm not used to feeling that way about many things (being a lefty, and all:)

There's plenty wrong with American, and there may be reasons to leave it, but to celebrate it? If this was any other demographic group I don't think the family would be presented in such glowing light. It might be presented as an interesting human interest story, but not as something to celebrate.

I'm not questioning their right to emigrate, and I understand that they feel they have a religious obligation to do so. I also understand that the Surburbanite is simply being responsive to a large demographic in their target area. But it struck something of a raw nerve, probably much like US residents & citizens who don't know how to speak English strikes a raw nerve.

Comments welcome, arguments unwelcome. Please keep it civil.

Zev Mo said...

While I agree that Aliyah is a goal for all Jews, punishing someone for the decision to do what they believe is best for themselves and their family, IMHO, is the exact opposite of what we should be teaching our children.

I think, in the end, whether an Israeli native, or someone who has come back from Israel, I don't think that it is the LAND of Israel that they are running away from. A person shouldn't be treated like a sellout or pariah because life in Israel isn't just like the brochure or commercial.

esther said...

publicschoolparent - My response was similar to yours, which is probably not surprising as we share a philisophical demographic. I had no idea that many observant Jews feel that are just biding their time in the U.S and expect to eventually leave.

Perhaps a practical solution to the "yeridim problem" is the U.S. to automatically rescind the citizenship of anyone who make aliyah to Israel. This would reduce the number of yeridim, but best of all it would provide citizenship opportunities for people who are seeking sanctuary from oppressive conditions in their native countries.

PublicSchoolParent said...

Excellent idea, Esther. I'm going to make use of my personal hotline to Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin asking them to this. I doubt that limp wristed liberal Obama would do it.

Zev Mo said...


When you write things like, "limp wristed liberal Obama", it is as ridiculous as me saying, "weak-minded fascist McCain". I wouldn't do something like that, so don't lessen your argument with terminology you don't understand.

PublicSchoolParent said...

Zev Mo: I suspect you misunderstand my pathetic attempts at humor!

Zev Mo said...

I was really questioning wheather it was satire or sardonic. My appologies.

Scarlet Knight said...

I'm embarrased as an observant Jew to read this post.

Good luck maintaining Teaneck as a vibrant Jewish community 30 years down the road if the leaders among you all make aliyah. Your task will be even harder if you ostracize those who have come from Israel to strengthen your community -- synagogue presidents, honorees of foundation dinners, these are the people we need in America to build strong communities and stop assimilation.

Sadly, in 30 years the American Jewish community will be made up of anti-Zionist Haredim and a decreasing number of secular biological Jews. The Israeli Jewish community is doing fine. Jewish leaders need to live where we need them, here in the Goldeneh Medina.