Space Bags and Other Great Ideas
I read other bloggers. I started reading them to get an idea of life-in-Israel from the man/woman-on-the-scene and then latched on to other olim-in-process. My thanks today go to Emma S. at Moving On Up (http://emahs.blogspot.com/) for the inspiration on Space Bags. Duh! You'd think it was obvious, but sometimes reading other peoples' aliyah planning helps organize the obvious. So I too need to trip over to Target and find the aforementioned bags--and start loading the linens.
Reading other olim bloggers, both here and there, also eases the sense of omigosh-I'm-doing-this-alone-and-what-if-I-fail? There are other families who have made this migration and made a success of it; there are other families out there, some of whom may end up on the same NBN flight with us this summer, who are stressed out over packing, jobs, schools, and everything else that crowds into the recesses of your mind at 3:00 am and keeps you awake until dawn.
I have to remind myself that this isn't a test. This is a family decision much like moving to Phoenix--we're going because it is the best possible decision for us to make as a Jewish family; while Phoenix is linguistically easier, and I can read the labels on the cans in Safeway much more easily than the labels in Supersol, the Big Picture is that we want our children to live in Israel and be part of the Jewish people's sovereignty. It isn't simple Zionism, either -- as observant Jews, we also believe that we are fulfilling a mitvah in following H"S's commandment to live in and build the land of Israel.
There are two disparate dynamics in being a Jewish minority in the Diaspora: in repressive, antiSemitic societies, Jews live underground on scant tolerance, on the edge of random violence, oppression and government-sanctioned discrimination. In the free societies of the West, even the most tolerant, Jews still struggle to maintain a sense of Jewish identity and purpose in a society where Christmas is a national holiday and you have to put in a vacation request to get Yom Kippur off. Its a struggle to raise children this way: unless you can afford Jewish day school, or be fortunate enough to have a Jewish day school near by, or be fortunate enough to not need the special ed services available ONLY in public schools, your children suffer from a surfeit of Christmas trees and Christian holidays and then fall behind because they are taking official school days off in order to fulfill their religious requirements. My son was criticized this year for 'falling behind' in his team project because the benchmarks were all due during the High Holidays and Sukkot.
We see it where we live. Nationally the Jewish population is estimated to be between 2-3% of the general population, depending on who is doing the counting. Where we live, 10% of the population is Jewish.....and of that 10% which is Jewish, 90% are NOT affiliated with any synagogue or otherwise involved in Jewish life. The slow slide into assimilation is easy here in a tolerant, pluralistic, multi-cultural, humanistic society. These are good qualities for a society, and one which welcomes and tolerates much which would not be tolerated in other societies. But it does make it much more likely that the Jews who live here will not have Jewish grandchildren.