This story is about an American family
that made Aliyah
Arrived 1987 - Departed 1989
Prior to leaving, two years later, we look back on our initial introduction to the absorption system. Its now apparent, the episode was actually a prelude to unfounded pressure. Americans can never cope with a system deficient in reason, a system that thwarts achievement.
Thinking back to those who prepared us for so called culture shock, leads us to believe they were knowingly circumventing reality. Culture shock, as they described it has no bearing on what must be dealt with. Wash hanging on every line, different faces from all over the world, different foods, won’t spoil Aliyah. Were we exposed to reality, that would have been another story.
To disclose the actuality one will journey to might delay American Aliyah, but so what. The return rate is so high, in reality there is no meaningful American Aliyah.
What you have read so far is a fair representation of our introduction to Israel. Its the start of our attempt to work through the turmoil of its ways. Up to now, peace and original purpose, have been elusive. We’re disheartened, tired, apprehensive, but still hopeful that our abilities and purity of goals, will in the end help us through.
We must keep believing that only the beginning of the process will be so overbearing. It was merciful that we didn’t realize only our toes had been dipped into the seething waters. Before we would rescue ourselves, two years of our lives will be damaged.
Looking back, the chain of events that devastates American Aliyah becomes clearer. Without needed assistance there is no way to cope. The path one is forced to follow is a conveyor to failure. Try stepping off that conveyor and you will incur the wrath of this systems protectors. What are they protecting, deception, confusion? This was not the culture forty years ago. It has been imported and installed only recently. It is an absolute distortion of Judaism. It is a giant step backward from what we in America, the prime supporters of Israel, conceive its purpose to be. Simply stated, I believe Israel was to be the homeland for the Jews of the world. A land populated by people traditionally endowed with disciplines of achievement, education, growth, and the desire to someday gain worldwide esteem. Was I deluding myself?
My in depth interviews with Sabra’s and Vatic’s, reveled their longing for bygone days, when Israel was striving to achieve that very thing. Imagine that - bygone days - days only twenty or more years ago. Is Israel, "The Heroic Undertaking," burning itself up at such a rapid pace? Unless this new corrosive society is modified, Israel will forever lose the ability to fulfill its original purposes.
AGAIN I HAVE STRAYED
Let's return to the absorption confusion, where the pattern of life continues unabated.
We occupy a concrete box, lime paint detaching itself from the walls, black mold creeping across its surface. Infested with insects, (the windows had no screens), a primitive gas heater incapable of warding off cold and damp, and cooking on a two burner ovenless stove. There were no soft chairs to sit on after an exhausting day, nor a soft bed to lay your weary bones on. Try sleeping on two inches of foam, supported by a slab of plywood. Showering becomes a daring adventure. One enters the bathroom, and turns on a shower that has no curtains or shower pan to retain the water. There in the freezing cold, you soap, rinse and stand ankle deep in a flood. With a floor squeegee the lake you created is pushed down the drain. Towel dry as fast as you can and jump into some clothes quickly, or you catch your death. In general you rough it.
This might be acceptable for a short term camping trip, but six months? Conditions were definitely a dramatic change from any U.S. life style. We hadn’t expected luxury, but this was too much. Inventively, without complaint, we remedied as much as possible. Liberal applications of Clorox removed the black mold. The bed was made more comfortable with extra sheets of foam we scavenged. Odds and ends we had brought with us were hung on the walls. During the day a comforter was rolled and placed along the living room bed, converting it into a sofa. Two plastic webbed beach chairs found in the Shook (flea market) became our easy chairs.
The place was shaping up. We even found a throw rug to keep our feet off the cold stone floor. Crazy as it may sound, I began to make the most remarkable excuses for this way of living. I would proclaim that these conditions were good for us. They were a perfect way to decompress from our former life style. Six months will pass quickly. I kept on saying that. It worked a little. I think we started to get comfortable in our sparsely furnished setting.
With ongoing naiveté we psyched ourselves into believing the balance of our time in the Merkaz, could be spent solely on our campaign for an education, job hunting, completing government documents, and whenever possible taking trips to see and learn what our new country was all about.
At this early stage such down-to-earth needs did not appear impossible to accomplish. We would try not to make any waves. If we remained energetic and walked the straight and narrow, it was presumed our keepers would stop hassling us and would concentrate on being competent in their duties. Unfortunately, though we adhered to our responsibilities, those in charge of us proved to be devoid of theirs, they didn’t even understand the meaning of the word.
What we continued to be involved in every day; was pressure from misinformation, their determination to defend the misinformation, total absence of consideration, absolutely no ability to perform their assigned jobs, and an underlying current that alienated American needs from all other Olim needs.
They preached and practiced, other Olim have more need of help and attention. American millionaires should be capable of self absorption. They needed none of the available help, financial or otherwise. More often than we could handle, we were told, if you don’t like it go home. What a nasty thing to say, when … WE HAVE JUST COME HOME.
This confrontational mind-set toward Americans becomes an informal but nonetheless integral part of the none American Olim's education, especially at the Merkaz Klita.
Rather than achieving a homogenization of diverse cultures, the Merkaz Klita polarized and antagonized. Americans who need as much support as other Olim, wind up with added pressure instead. Theirs was an emotional response to Israel’s call for Jews. They have come of free will. Why are they being trampled upon, and forced into a battle to survive?
The contest for survival becomes paramount, the reasons for coming recede into shadows. Sadly, within a short period of time, only a few of the American group we knew are still in Israel. All remaining, have fought so hard, but admittedly are losing the battle. Holdouts, with painful hearts, sorrowfully confide with each other. The dreaded words are exchanged, “sooner or later we’ll all be back in the U.S..”
Its a travesty for such an unselfish, caring group, to have been channeled into this battle zone where defeat is inevitable. That it is perpetrated by Jewish organizations is unforgivable. The first few months at the Merkaz Klita, is creating a bleak outlook for the future.
Daily, struggling Americans are incited by the flow of goods going to the so called underprivileged. Brand new refrigerators, ovens, washers, dryers, televisions, even furniture, is being delivered to their rooms at the Merkaz. American Millionaires, sit, watch, and get nothing. The irony of this extravaganza is, the recipients are the very ones who came to the Merkaz and recited in chorus, “ain kessef" loosely translated (I have no money).
How do they get all those goodies without money? No American I ever knew learned the secret. It galls us that they have such well run organizations backing them, working diligently in their behalf. They certainly know how to get things done. They know how to tap into the system, a system flooded with American donations. Isn’t it ironic to have Americans excluded from being helped by contributions coming from their own country. Should we be blamed for being irate?
Disheartened, this deprivation only does further harm. Trying our best to overcome the support
void, meetings are arranged, for information exchange. They are usually pathetic, never resolving high priority problems. They become totally unproductive, causing further embitterment. These meetings finally came to an end. The stream of returnees continued back to the U.S., facing another challenge, rebuilding a life they recently gave up when going to Israel. Chaval (a pity).
Across from the Merkaz was a park, a peaceful atmosphere that we often sat in. The statue to the right would always capture our attention. Somehow its significance never related to us.
to be continued...