I have lived in Anglo communities and see the same mistakes being made over and again. My wife and I have fallen into these traps and have learned how to scale them. That is why I would like to share with you my list of the Top 10 Strategies for a Successful and Lifelong Aliyah.
Live in an Israeli City. It’s easy to choose Ra’anana, Efrat, and Ramat Beit Shemesh if you want to live in Israel without changing your life. Many do. But if you want to integrate, the best thing to do is to move to a place where you are immersed Israeli society. Cities like Herzliya, Netanya, and Tel Aviv have communities from all over the world, but make you feel like you have to adapt.
Get a job in Israel. There is no better way to adjust to a new culture than to get a job here. In a community, you are likely to live with likeminded people whether politically likeminded, similar in what Shul you go to, even the stage of life you are in. At a job, you can be a haredi working side by side with a tattoo painted developer (seen it). You can be a passionate nationalist having to bite your lip each time the CEO says something (still have the bruises!). This is how you connect with people throughout the social spectrum in a productive and positive manner. TIP: if you work for yourself, try working at a coworking space like WeWork or MindSpace so you can mingle!
Learn the Language. Okay, it’s really hard when everyone smells your accent and prefers to practice their English. Nonetheless, there is no better way to blend in. The key is to keep at it, and never give up on it at all.
See lots of Israeli sitcoms. Let’s be honest, after a full day of work, who wants to cap it all off by memorizing verb tenses? Watching Israeli sitcoms accomplishes many goals. A, you have a lot of fun. The entertainment is much better and a lot more thought provoking. B, you learn how to apply the language and not just study the words from a book. C, you get used to the local norms. You will feel a lot more comfortable around people.
Wean yourself off of the alternatives. The key to being here is to truly be here. Spending my evenings watching baseball games after seeing reruns of The West Wing put my insides on a daily commute to Manhattan. Today, my wife and I force ourselves to turn off all internet on weekends. Less internet means less exposure to what’s going on outside the country.
Travel in Israel. One of the greatest benefits of being a new citizen is that you are a perpetual tourist. We live in Afula, so every time we make the 40-minute drive to Tiveria (Tiberius), or the 60-minute drive to Sefad, we are going somewhere new and exciting. Go to the mountains? Choose between the Golan, or Judean Hills? Biblical sites? Jerusalem. Hevron. Even Kfar Saba is home to the resting place of Binyamin ben Ya’akov. Water? How about the Med Sea or the Dead Sea?
Hike in Israel. This could be considered like the last one, but it really is a category on its own. Hiking the country means getting intimate with the birds, camels, goats, cows, ibexes, streams, rivers, lakes, hills, flowers, trees, and all the natural miracles Hashem has blessed His Promised Land with. Religious, secular, left wing, and right . . . everybody develops a genuine love of the land in the most passionate way possible by traversing it step by blissful step. The greatest way to strengthen your resolve to live here forever is to always look for ways to be outside and fall in love with the Land all over again.
Meetups. This is a way to stay grounded. Whether you have work, are looking for work, or work remotely for a non-Israeli based company, meetups are a great way to stay connected to the professional community. People from all walks of life converge in these places not to argue politics, but to unite under a common goal: The advancement of our nation through the next great idea. Meetups are the perpetual testing ground for the next wave of technology.
Listen to Shiurim by Israeli Rabbis. Combine Torah learning with Aliyah by listening to Rabbis who are culturally Israeli and get accustomed to the language within the language. You can see or listen to shiurim in English, or see Hebrew shiurim with English subtitles. Rabbis include R. Shalom Arush, R. Yossi Mizrachi, R. Alon Anava, and R. Amnon Yitzchak.
See yourself as an Anglo. An Anglo is not an “American in Israel.” An Anglo is a type of Israeli. See yourself as a part of the landscape and hammer home the point that you are here forever. Even if it feels a little weird, even if others make you feel a little weird, remind yourself at all times that this is your permanent home. G-d gave you this Land and commands you to be a part of it as much as He commands Binyamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett, and Gal Gadot. You are an invaluable part of our country with unique skills and experiences that enable you to make real contributions that will impact our nation.
David Ben Horin is the author of Thank God for Israel. It is my greatest desire to share this with you, along with another book I wrote, The Great Life Hack. You can have it for free! Check him out at https://www.fiverr.com/s2/13f69eca6a and see his work at www.spreadyourenthusiasm.com.