Haaretz writer Chaim Levinson: US makes you rich - but poor in spirit

Haaretz writer pens touching account of his family's move from the US to Israel, and lauds the 'expansion of the soul' immigrants enjoy.

Tags: Aliyah
Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Making Aliyah
Making Aliyah
Flash 90

An opinion piece published in the Haaretz newspaper over the weekend won praise for its frank discussion on Aliyah to Israel, and the trade-offs involved for immigrants from wealthy Western countries.

In the article, Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson describes his family’s move from the US to Israel in 1981, several years before his birth.

Marking the 40th anniversary of the move, Levinson highlighted both the difficulty of adjusting to a new culture and accepting a lower material standard of living, along with the less tangible benefits of living in Israel and feeling a sense of belonging with the Jewish state.

“Immigrating was traumatic. Uprooting a life and replanting it without knowing what would come of it. Outside, we were happy for the privilege to be in Israel, but inside, we missed our old home. We paid a price we wouldn’t have had to pay in America,” Levinson wrote.

“Still, there’s nothing like being in Israel. We were fortunate to come. There’s no place more natural for a Jew to live. Israel is home.”

Juxtaposing the cost and benefit of Aliyah, however, Levinson argues the latter clearly outweighs the former, emphasizing that while foregoing life in Israel for the comparative wealth of the US enhances the outgoing immigrant’s material condition, it does so at the cost of his “soul and spirit”.

“To this day I haven’t met anyone who has returned to America and whose return has expanded his or her soul the way the soul expands when you lie in your bed at home in Israel.”