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singingnettle in ianglo

Highly negative survey on living in Israel: What's your opinion?

A friend in Tasmania sent me a survey whose upshot is, "Israel is hell and we don't know why we're here." My husband and I are thinking of moving to Israel from the U.S. and we have a lot of concerns: stress, the move itself, adjustment, cost of living, the frenetic lifestyle, the possibility of violence, the disturbing fact of being surrounded by neighbors with whom we don't have diplomatic relations...but do you think this survey is a reflection of reality? It's a phone survey, so I wonder about skewed results because of self-selection--that is, who chooses to take time on the phone to do the survey, people who are happy or people who are dissatisfied? And also, based on my experience of growing up as a Jew in NY, I have an idea that Jews don't tend culturally to express optimism. (I don't know if that's true of Israeli Jews, but when I opined that about American Jews, my non-Jewish husband burst into the sort of laughter you'd expect if you said to someone from Las Vegas, "But doesn't it get a little warm in the summer?")

What say you? If you're an immigrant and knew then what you know now about living in Israel, would you do it again?

Comments

My family made aliyah when I was 12. I am happy they did so, and happy that I grew up here, and that I live here.
As for that survey, I would love to see their data, what questions were asked, and what sectors of the community they spoke to.
And to be honest, even without seeing any hard data, let me just add that Tel Aviv University can be more than a little left wing in their outlook on things.
And it is well known that when you ask the questions the way you want, you get the answers you want. Check out this conversation for proof on how surveys are run.
I am not saying that this is Paradise. Yes, it's hard here and things are tough. But I wouldn't leave for the world.
I agree with all of this except that my family didn't make aliyah when I was 12.
Thank you. Yes, surveys can be easily skewed and pressed into supporting particular results.

What do you find hard or tough? If I may ask.
Well, it was different for me, coming at that age, than it would be for an adult.
The hardest thing I found was getting my Hebrew up to par. I had learned Hebrew in school before I made aliyah, so I could get by (barely). My first year at school, I don't think I learned anything other than improving my Hebrew vocabulary and how to talk without an American accent (so the other kids would stop teasing me about that).
When it comes to kids, I have found both from experience and from observation that the younger they come, the easier they find it.
We don't have kids, so it'd be just us struggling through Hebrew. We're learning conversational Hebrew but right now I'm having trouble imagining being able to actually hold a conversation.
It's a matter of practice makes perfect. My mom came here with no Hebrew at all (she never learned Hebrew growing up, outside of prayers) and she went to work having no choice but to struggle at first. She still makes mistakes (to this day, she still uses את instead of אתה to talk to me) but she manages.
Hah. I just read the conversation.

But we know that we are all completely rational and consistent creatures, right? ;->
The show it's taken from (Yes, Minister and it's continuation Yes, Prime Minister are brilliant satires of political systems. It's mostly based on Thatcher's government, but I think anyone will find it funny.
Yes, I love that show.
I'm not sure what 'flavor' Judaism you practice but as an Orthodox Jew, we just couldn't afford to stay in the US.

Yeshiva tuition was killing us. We had no health insurance. And the "Keeping up with the Katz's" was difficult and now, 11 years later, from what I understand, it's become obscene.

The violence you're probably talking about (aka homicide bombings and terrorist attacks) don't happen every day like the media wants you to think.

Leaving family is difficult, especially if you like your family :) Holidays still depress me.

But I love it here most of the time and I'm generally happy I moved here.
That's interesting. Most of what I've read about the cost of living in Israel vs. the US is that Israel is a lot worse, unless you're living along one of the borders. But I can see that. We're getting destroyed here on health costs; my husband and I both have fibromyalgia, which is a disease that, among other things, results in a proliferation of weird symptoms that always have to be tested to make sure they're not some other, more dangerous immune or organ or nervous system disease. He can't find a permanent job--his industry, software development, is primarily contract-driven in Seattle--and the contract jobs don't provide insurance to speak of anymore so we have to carry the full cost of private insurance to stay continuously covered. Our premiums are actually higher than our rent, and our rent is not trivial. And the insurance company slips in amazing amounts of expenses, such as charging a separate co-pay for doctor, testing, and facility or procedure charges for the same visit. Health care is drowning us.

We're not big on the "keeping up with the Katzes" but back on the East Coast where I grew up...yes. Very much so. Even here, we belong to a little temple that doesn't have a permanent home and borrows church space for services. It's a beach community and people are dressed up if they're wearing shoes; in NY, shabbos was a fashion show. The membership dues are reasonable and they are opposed to making people buy tickets for the High Holidays. Back east or at a temple here that had its own lush digs, we wouldn't be able to afford to go to High Holiday services.

Family isn't an issue--his family is all halfway across the country, so we seldom see them, and mine are, sadly, all deceased. That makes us sad, but it also makes it easier for us to pull up stakes. Our friends here are our family. We will have trouble leaving them.
I think it becomes a trade off. While housing, taxes and things which are deemed 'luxuries' like cars, are on the higher side of things, education (on ALL levels, including university) and health insurance are ridiculously affordable.

I think the housing has evened out a lot since the dollar tanked so much against the shekel in the past year or so. It used to be most landlords required their rent paid fixed to the dollar but now, it's very easy to get a fixed shekel rent.

Not sure if you're aware of this, but Israel is basically considered the second Silicon Valley. The hi-tech industry here is unbelievable. For more info on that, you (or your husband) might want to drop my husband zachkessin a comment and ask him about it.
Thank you! I'll drop by your husband. Yes, one of the reasons we thought Israel might be a good option for us was that my husband had a good chance, we thought, of finding interesting work in his field. We've been eyeing some of the tech companies in Haifa; I think Tel Aviv might be too frenetic for him. (Not for me, since I grew up in New York City--but he's from rural Michigan.) He could very easily apply for a number of the jobs we saw listed on IBM's site (although I have mixed feelings about IBM, which people locally stands for, "I've Been Moved." At least being moved around Israel is more constrained than being moved around the U.S.)

I think we spend most of our money on health care and our disposable income on education (although securing housing, which we can't afford in Seattle either, would be kinda nice, too). We don't own that much and are giving away most of what we do have as we find we have more than we truly need. We have an elderly car that we'll need to replace (I mostly take public transportation) and we have a few expensive items involved with our health, such as adjustable beds and exercise equipment. We just finished getting my husband through college...one class at a time for 17 years, 30K without a loan. Now it's my turn to go back to school and we can't afford it. And we're always taking stray classes in this and that. Our priorities are a little odd compared to the US mainstream...which is I guess one of the reasons we're thinking of moving.

I can see where being Orthodox in Israel would be a lot easier than in the US. One of the reasons I didn't maintain Orthodox practice after I grew up was that I had to support myself and just couldn't maintain those practices and hold my career in the publishing industry, which required a lot of overtime and was not about to let me leave early on Fridays. Even in highly-Jewish New York, holding on to Orthodox customs--especially as I didn't have family support for it (they were Conservative, in that New York "we do the High Holidays and eat Jewish food" way) and my family wasn't in the community--was like sailing against the wind.
You also might want to seriously look into Beer Sheva. There's a first rate Uni there, Intel is 30 minutes away in Kiryat Gat and there's a lot of other hi-tech in and around.

Cost of living there is totally reasonable and there's a nice Anglo community there as well.

If you're serious about making Aliyah, get in touch with Nefesh b'Nefesh (nbn.org.il) and check out the Yahoo groups for city-specific lists.

Do you mind if I friend you?
I'd be very happy to have you friend me.

I was looking at your husband's blog. It looks like you've been having a stressful life lately.

I think we'll probably do one of the pilot trips this spring.
Do be aware that my interests...and a lot of my friends--are somewhat "alternative." My husband and I have a pretty wide range of interests and people that we like.

I looked at your husband's site...I'm also a photographer and I take a lot of super-macros, as well as some celestial photos. Very cool!
My husband and I are co-founders of the Israeli shire of Maale Giborim, in the Kingdom of Drachenwald of the Society of Creative Anachronism.

We are sci-fi geeks and gamers. Filkers as well.

A good chunk of my FList are fellow Israeli geeks, gamers and filkers with a couple of alternative lifestylers thrown in as well :)

My husband is 'old school' photography what with his medium and large format cameras. I've moved on to the digital age :)
Landsman! :-)
I don't regret it at all.
Thank you!

(Anonymous)

negative Israel

This is home, home is not allways a bed of roses but there is no other place like it. Come, enjoy, and if there is to much chutzpa for you, learn some. New York is much more dangerous by the way.

Re: negative Israel

I grew up in New York City. I don't think lack of chuzpah is my problem!

But I am worried about practical things like making a living, affording retirement...managing health because I have chronic fatigue syndrome and don't have a lot of bandwidth for stress and complications...and Israel strikes me as sort of a complicated place to live.

But we're still both attracted to it all the same.

Thanks for the input!