By Guy Lieberman
There has been an undeniable uptick in Aliyah from South Africa over the past year, for reasons that are apparent to some, confounding to others.
In general, the broader population is experiencing yet another exodus from South Africa, to what many hope are greener pastures elsewhere in the world. This is the story of human migration. Indeed, at some point in our own past, our great grandparents considered South Africa as the best next move.
The Jewish community in SA is experiencing an unusual moment however, with many electing to leave Jo’burg for Cape Town, thereby remaining in the country. It’s understandable why some choose to stay — South Africa, with all its troubles, is still an extraordinary country, and especially those whose families have been here for over one hundred years consider themselves deeply at home. Why leave when anchored so deeply?
And yet, according to the numbers — over 550 new Olim made Aliyah between July 2021 and July 2022 — Israel has never seemed so compelling. Speaking from personal experience, however, it’s not a straight line. It takes a blend of boldness and faith, of planning and courage, to move somewhere that in so many ways is the very reverse of South Africa.
Dorron Kline, CEO of Telfed, has a bird’s eye view of the dynamic.
“South Africans are making Aliyah in record numbers due to several factors. On the one hand, there is an inherent love of and draw to be in Israel. The country is thriving, with a burgeoning energy. On the other hand, there is the continual set of crises in South Africa, including the failing infrastructure, corruption, and financial and personal insecurity.”
Expectations are to be well managed, however, and the decision to make this move needs to be clear-eyed.
Dorron continues, “Look closely at the cost of living, which is high. Make sure you can afford to make the move; you don’t want to end up dependent on social welfare in Israel. If you are going to make Aliyah, Telfed’s professional team will help you plan for a smooth absorption. And, learn as much Hebrew as you can, in advance.”
What is one of the best things about Israel?
“A high level of personal freedom and security, experienced very much by the children.”
With all the strains of life in Israel, there is something profoundly unique about living in the Jewish homeland: watching my kids walk out the door to meet their friends in the neighbourhood, and reminding them only to be home by dark (for dinner, not for safety). This is the deepest privilege.
• Published in the September 2022 Rosh Hashanah Digital Edition – Click here to read it.
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