Aliyah: The ‘Mysterious’ And Fearful Process

 By Sam Minskoff, Ph.D.

The decision to ‘make’ Aliyah (to go up) can be experienced as an amazing phenomenon fraught with seemingly irrationalities, contradictions and ambivalence; the ‘classic’ ingredients of a conflict.  There are the usual ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ as well as the hard pressed question; “Why should I…”

What goes through ones mind when one decides to voluntarily let go of the “good life” in the Diaspora for a perhaps more challenging one in The Land of Israel?   Just what kind of a Jew should one must be in order to have at least a decent life in Israel?  Needless to say, each one has to evaluate just what ‘decent life’ is.

Many come on Aliyah for religious reasons or ideals.  Many come for escape from the possible impending dangers of increasing anti-Semitism that appears to be sweeping the globe.  Some come with dreams and some come with delusions. The fact that Israel has withstood the various trials and tribulations against all odds for the past 60 plus years can impress an individual enough to consider if the modern State of Israel is a miracle in itself.  Regardless, Eretz Israel has always been considered a special place despite the fact that currently Israel is the most controversial place in the World. What makes Israel so special especially to Jewish people?

These questions and issues seem to be at the very essence of Aliyah.   What is this draw or at the very least, an interest in Israel.  Israel is special.  It has been observed that something within happens whenever people visit Israel; especially the Jewish people.  There was a time when the thought of Jews having their own Land was ridiculous.  Now, that Israel is here to stay, some people appear to be astonished, confused, or perhaps even horrified at the fact.  Who knew such a place as Israel could last surrounded by deadly enemies?  It has been observed by others that these surrounding dangers may be a strong factor in individuals thinking twice before even visiting the amazing Land. For reasons that will be gone through in subsequent articles, fear has always surrounded Israel.  However, inside Israel it is much quieter; as if demonstrating that the eye of the storm is the calmest.  One has only to live in the Land to know this is so.

It is fear that can get in the way of the dreams that one has in life.  Many put off making Aliyah because of fear or perhaps terror.  Yes, because of various terrorists, people are terrified to be sure.  After all, much of these fears are well founded in reality. Much of these fears are highly exaggerated as well.  One consideration in dealing with this issue of fear, as hard as it may sound, is do  whatever you are afraid of,  afraid. Yes, do it afraid. Fear needs to be confronted not avoided.  Having fear is one thing; fear having you is another. Feeling afraid is not the same as being afraid.  Fear is often dealt with gradually. There are many Aliyah groups and organizations that are very sensitive to this issue and hence have set up programs, activities to lessen the anxiety of coming to Israel so that one may learn that there is really nothing to fear or dread as somehow advertised in some people’s minds.

It has been observed and reported that fear can be an anagram expressing thus: Fake Evidence Appearing Real.  Why be afraid of simply looking into ‘the evidence’ that seems to support the fear?  One has only to find relief from such fears when researching what is exactly behind Aliyah Phobia.  Knowledge can overcome irrational fear.  We have often heard that fear is based on the unknown; that is, ‘we fear the unknown’.  One can experiment with the phenomenon of how real evidence easily overcomes the fake evidence to which fear is based.

Once the fake evidence is assessed and evaluated then much of the fearful confusion, conflict and ambivalence is ameliorated.  Then the decision to make Aliyah becomes much clearer.

Dr. Sam Minskoff is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Jerusalem providing psychological services to the English speaking community.  His services entail; Individual, Couple, Family Psychotherapy, Clinical Consulting, child abuse issues, Psycho-diagnostic Testing and Evaluations as well as specializing in depression, anxiety disorders and those issues pertaining to the Aliyah process. 

Contact Details: Email him at drminskoff@yahoo.com   or by phone (0972) 05 4203 1951

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