Two weeks ago my seven-year-old son went to sleep in tears. Oh no, I thought, he’s heard about the fatal terrorist attack at Jaffa Gate that took place earlier that day. Anxiously I asked him, ‘What’s wrong?’ He was scared to walk to school, he said. A kid had been hit by a car outside his school. Oh that’s all, I was relieved, a kid’s broken leg we could deal with. We spoke about how God is watching over him and whatever happens He is with him, guiding and protecting him. If anything is going to happen, it’s going to happen anywhere. Any place. Any time.
I didn’t discuss with him the recent spout of hideous attacks. What of Rabbi Reuben Birmajer and Ofer Ben Ari who wee murdered at Jaffa Gate? What of the two young men slain on Dizengoff St this past weekend? Where was God then? This is where faith steps in and flings a comforting arm over reason’s sobbing shoulder and says, ‘Life must go on, because the alternative is unthinkable.’
On the macro level, the news is unwatchable. On the micro level, my Oleh troubles seem insignificant by comparison. However they are BIG in my life. You see what comes under pressure when you make Aliyah, is your most important relationships. Stress does that. Suddenly your husband who is your best friend becomes your best enemy, as together you try to navigate your children, maintain a household, and be productive.
Any issues you had before are now big, fat warts oozing green pus. You can’t ignore them as much as you’d love to cover your head with a warm duvet and hibernate until everyone has sorted themselves out.
So what to do? Two Words – GET HELP.
I’ve heard a big mistake Olim make is getting help too late in the day. The cost of this can be your Aliyah. There’s too much at stake when you immigrate to Israel, too many hopes, dreams, lives, for it all to collapse because you didn’t seek the help you need. This is not the time to be stubbornly independent and insist you can keep it together all by yourself.
Organisations such as Telfed, specialise in helping Olim through their adjustment period. They provide social worker support and can recommend different options that can aid a family financially, emotionally and socially. We’ve accessed their PRAS program, and they’ve sent us a young university student who comes three hours a week to hang out with our eldest son. Together they play Hebrew Scrabble, eat microwave popcorn and sometimes mosey off to Burger Bar.
It’s important to approach experts for advice and for diagnosis. Moving country is no joke and there is a period of adjustment difficulty which the whole family experiences. We found a fantastic child expert who assessed all of our children, and was a brilliant diagnostician on how best to help them moving forward. She provided a holistic game plan for each child, from group art therapy to private ulpan, homework teachers and a mentor for the eldest (thank you PRAS).
Of course none of this was given on a platter. We had to access all of this. Find the therapists, Ulpan teachers and experts. Apply for the PRAS student. Move beyond our comfort zone and say we need help with Hebrew homework, can you help, do you know anyone who can? Most people are more than happy to help new Olim. They still can’t understand why you’ve come, so it’s more than their pleasure to help this mysterious breed of idealists.
The Aliyah road is not a simple road to walk. We’ve been journeying for about six months leaving a long, messy trail of lost yarmulkes, jerseys, tempers and tears. Around us knives and bullets are flying. But we know as we keep walking one day at a time, that the show must go on.