November 17, 2020
The mental illness of the galus Jew was on full display in a recent email correspondence I had with a Jewish woman from the United States. I will refer to the essence of the correspondence and have removed any identifying information.
She wrote that she asked around about homes in Israel. She is looking for a home that has two or three bedrooms and two bathrooms, with a nice kitchen. It must be no more than a few minutes from restaurants and nightlife (which eliminates much of the country), and was lohoking to spend $250 thousand. Surprisingly enough, no one was able to “find a place with those requirements”.
She concluded her initial email with the following admonishment: “How about in your next column in The Jewish Press, you make recommendations for where Americans interested in moving to Eretz Yisroel might find a comfortable home and community.”
I replied in part as follows: “Maybe your aliya wish list is a little too demanding. Israel is a large and beautiful country with many affordable communities. American Jews tend to be very materialistic, demanding, and spoiled, and if they cannot afford to live in the Old City, the center of Jerusalem, or a well-established, high-end Anglo community, they declare that they can't afford to live in Israel and aliya is not for them. For a fraction of the cost of living in the Beverly Hills of Israel you could get a villa in other communities and give up a little on your materialistic demands in favor of the blessing of coming home.
“You mention [an expensive Anglo neighborhood], but the fact is that you would have sniffed your nose at [this neighborhood] when it was under construction. You wouldn't have bought there at $250K and waited a few years for it to go up. Were you willing to lower your demands, you could find many more such opportunities in other parts of the country. That's the hard truth, and I hope you will consider it.
“Life in Israel isn't perfect, but neither are you. If you will come to Israel with a positive attitude, accept it for what it is, and help bring us closer to the goal, the land will take a favorable view toward your imperfections as well.”
Tough words, but honest and to the point.
She replied with a long diatribe about how she grew up in poverty and now donates money to Jewish institutions. She went on to call me “arrogant...insensitive and a disgrace to the title rabbi. I certainly would not want to live in a community filled with people like you. Now you have uncovered your face for the world to see...no one cares what you want.”
Now, all that may be true, but it doesn't negate my response to her list of demands to make aliya. I replied: “I'm truly sorry that Israel cannot offer you an apartment with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in a developed Anglo community a half hour away from restaurants and nightlife for $250,000. Obviously the problem is with Israel, and I am a disgusting person for observing that your demands are unreasonable, overly materialistic, and display a distorted perspective of what aliya should be about. I wish you luck in finding a community that makes you happy and has only people who tell you what you wish to hear.”
She replied with another long diatribe about how she grew up in poverty and worked her way up to a nice standard of living, which she refuses to give up. “I simply cannot afford the lifestyle... Yes, there is a problem in Israel if you cannot find a residence to fit your family. You act as though I am requiring a palace. I don't need a palace, but I do want a home above a Bedouin tent.”
My reply: “As I mentioned previously, there is a huge divide between a "Bedouin tent" and a developed Anglo community near restaurants and nightlife. Thank God the people who came to Israel before us, who truly cherished the land and built it, did not have such a list of requirements to consider themselves not "impoverished". I never judged you as a human being, and your childhood and how much tzedaka you give are irrelevant to the discussion.
“You presented me with a list of requirements for moving to Israel that I consider unreasonable and overly materialistic, and I gave you an honest response. You reacted by heaping praise on yourself and heaping abuse on me. So be it.
“I stand by my assessment of your shopping list, and there is no reason to continue this discussion. When Black Lives Matter and Antifa pay a visit to your suburb, maybe you will adjust your requirements for living in Israel, and maybe you will even prefer a Bedouin tent in your own homeland among rude, arrogant, and overall disgusting people like me. Good luck to you.”
Well, she had an answer for that contingency! “If Antifa or BLM come to my home, they will see the end of my AR-15.”
To which I replied: “Good luck with that, Rambo.”
The Land of Israel cries for its children. It cries as follows:
“Life here might not yet be everything you want it to be. You know what? You're not everything the Land of Israel wants you to be, either. I'm willing to view you favorably because you are the children of those I loved most, even though at times you hardly resemble them. I will do this on the condition that you view me favorably, and not complain about how I don't resemble the land you must leave behind. I'm not supposed to. I'm different, and you are supposed to be different than the people in those lands. If you work to create a better life in Israel, I will work to make you a better person.
“This is your only home. Come here to stay and make it work.”
Most galus Jews will not listen. But maybe one more will hear the call.