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Making a Living in Israel

By Tzvi Fishman
12/10/2008, 12:00 AM

I am a professional film producer based in NY who is looking to make aliyah.  My only reservation in moving to Israel is the lack of a job.  How can someone like myself who was very successful in the business (and never compromised his Yiddishkeit) make a living in Israel?  I am not looking to make millions, just a living wage to support a family of six.  Do you have any suggestions?


The issue of aliyah and making a living is a legitimate concern. The Zohar says that our forefather, Avraham, searched for the place in the world where he could get as close as possible to G-d. This burning desire of Avraham was the catalyst that brought G-d to command him, “Get thee forth to the Land that I will show you.” Rashi explains that the double language, “Lech lecha,” was to reassure Avraham that the move was for his ultimate good and that it would bring him and his descendents great spiritual and material blessing. After all, it is no small challenge and test of faith to give up your country of birth, social standing, and livelihood to move to another land. And indeed, at first, things did not go easily for Avraham. There was a famine in the land! But, eventually, Avraham became a very rich man.

This uncertainty, challenge, and difficulty is common to all olim. The word canaan, as in the land of Canaan, also has the meaning of humbleness and poverty. The lowering of one’s status is part of the immigration process, helping to break impure traits of pride and ego which prevent a person from getting closer to G-d. Aliyah means to go up, and therefore, the first and foremost goal of each new immigrant to Israel should be spiritual - to get closer to G-d. When a person holds fast to this goal, clinging to it at all times, even through periods of difficulty and change, G-d’s blessing flows in its wake.  

In practical terms, when you first make aliyah, you indeed may not be able to make a living as a film producer. You may have to get to know the right people first, learn the language, etc. You may have to make videos of bar mitzvahs and weddings to have some income coming in before you make the bigger, professional films that you are accustomed to making. And it may turn out that you won’t be able to find a niche in the film business here, and you may have to change your profession. But always remember, “Is G-d’s hand too short that He cannot provide for you and your family?” Just like He provided for us in the Wilderness, He provides for us still today, each person according to what is best for his needs. Does a shepherd not provide for his sheep? Remember, “The L-rd is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” These reassuring words of King David should be your mantra during your passage and time of transition.

Hopefully, other readers will have some words of advice.

May you remain strong in your holy decision, and may Hashem bless you and your family in the great adventure ahead.