49 South African Olim landed in Israel on 13 October, as Israel celebrated Yom Ha’Aliyah (Aliyah Day).
What sage advice does our community of new and veteran Olim (vatikim) have for our new immigrants? As always, ‘Learn Hebrew!’ is emphasised, and we agree — this is, hands down, the most important skill for all new Olim.
A positive attitude and sense of humour are frequently mentioned by those who understand that the journey can be overwhelming. These are essential tools in one’s emotional survival kit (both for those who have, and those who have not yet mastered the language). We reached out to our community and asked them to share some of their favourite Aliyah experiences:
Telfed’s Vice Chairman, Shely Cohen, responded, “Like when my husband said he was breastfeeding (menika) instead of jealous (mekane)? Been here almost 28 years, I’m ok with my mistakes, I embrace my South Africanism, and every day I feel blessed to be here.”
Eve related the time she bought frozen yellow string beans thinking they were oven chips, and when she used floor cleaner to wash her clothes because of the picture of bath towels on the label. She added, “I love living in the one and only Jewish homeland where everyone wishes each other shabbat shalom!”
Sandra related the incident where her husband had met a friend from Ulpan on the bus, and somehow the two sat chatting in broken (and incorrect) Hebrew. As his friend exited the bus, her husband cheerfully shouted out, “Shalom, lehitraot etmol (goodbye, see you yesterday).”
Sometimes we are reminded of the sense of brotherhood, despite the language and cultural divide. Ex-Jo’burger Hillel, wrote that soon after arriving in Israel from the South African crime capital, he was walking through the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Rehavia. “A random lady, who was having a hard time trying to parallel park her car, called out to me and asked if I could park her car for her. She got out of the car, leaving her baby in the back seat, and let me, a total stranger, park her car. Only in Israel.”
New Oleh David Rubenstein received a kidney transplant a few months after his family made Aliyah. Despite the language barrier, his altruistic kidney donor and family have welcomed the Rubinsteins into their own family.
“It was the most amazing experience, and to meet my donor was absolutely unbelievable. It felt like Hashem sent me an angel. Especially that it was in Eretz Israel.”
Resilience, flexibility, a sense of humour and a positive outlook will stand you in good stead as you overcome the hurdles, and enjoy the miracles that Israel has to offer.
• Published in the PDF edition of the November 2021 issue – Click here to get it.
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