The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Friday, March 16, 2007

On Making Aliyah

This column, from Rabbi Yakov Horowitz (RYH), is intriguing.

In response to a question from a dad of 4 kids (including a thirteen year-old girl) who is thinking about making aliyah, RYH suggests that it is a bad idea given the age of the eldest daughter. He believes that the transition for teenagers is very difficult and even dangerous and should not be done cavalierly.

While I would not necessarily conclude that it is never right, I agree with RYH that one must proceed with extreme caution. Among my own friends and family, a number have made aliyah with teenagers. On the other hand, a number of other friends who were set on making aliyah pulled back when they concluded (and were supported in that view by their Rav) that since their children were not with the program they would be putting their children at risk.

Things seem to be going well for my friends who have moved. I believe that a part of their apparent success is that they have all moved to the same Anglo community and have friends from the US. Of course, it is too early to tell how things will work out but I am pretty optimistic.

RYH's article hits home because MHW and I reached the same conclusion a number of years ago. Once our kids reached a certain age, we deferred the idea of aliyah. Interestingly, under normal circumstances, we would be approaching the time when we could start making plans again for a few years down the line, our youngest being 14.

Of course, The Toddler situation lends a sense of urgency. She's almost 2. Heeding RYH's advice, we would prefer to move with her (assuming everything works out) by the time she is 8, 9 at most. The clock is ticking.



  • At 4:16 PM, Blogger uberimma said…

    I am very glad to hear the assumption implicit in the last few lines.

  • At 4:48 PM, Blogger Gabi said…

    This whole concept of cancelling Aliyah plans based on the age of your children is approaching absurdity. No, actually it is merely the same Yetzer Harah that has been around from the time of the Meraglim. While the Meraglim were the leaders of the Jewish people at our highest level of holiness, they somehow succumbed to the rationalization that E”Y may not be the most suitable place.

    I’ve lived basically my whole life in the 5T, besides for a year on the “Mother Ship,” and I can assure you that there are plenty of children losing their love for Yiddishkeit and/or Hashem. In the greater New York Jewish community (all types of hats included), drug use is rampant, children are molested and raped, and roughly a dozen or so people actually care about their welfare.

    If you believe that the materialistic New York community may not be the ideal place to have a Jewish family and that Israel is the place for a Jewish family to live, don’t allow the Yetzer Harah to convince you otherwise. There are communities where many Americans already live and your children will feel comfortable. A law was recently passed which allows high-schoolers to take the Bagrut in English. Although life may not be as comfortable or easy in Israel, many families have made Aliyah and are B”H doing fine. You have to daven to Hashem that if you make all the proper preparations (House, schools, job(s)) that you will merit living in the holy land.

    It’s amusing how people in our communities mock the political system in Israel, which has to deal with hostile neighbors, a lack of natural resources etc., when we can’t even deal with things like school boards and poultry labels.

  • At 4:50 PM, Blogger Gabi said…

    Oh... and obviously: the earlier the better!

  • At 5:36 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    I think every situation has to be dealt with individually. Even within my own family, for example, there were kids who would have thrived and others who would have been absolutely miserable. You can talk about the yetzer harah all you want but there are kids who would be fine in the US who would hate being torn from their friends and environment if taken to Israel against their wills.

    The fact that there are kids losing their way in America is not the point.

    It isn't so simple.

  • At 6:18 PM, Blogger Gabi said…

    Ask yourself this question: Why was your son the only one amongst his friends to make Aliyah with his young family?
    There are plenty of others with the same resources etc. who aren't making the move...Maybe you did something right!
    If making Aliyah is taught as an ideal from the beginning, then it resonates. People make fun of things like Moshava and Flatbush but, in my experience, these kids are much more open to the move.

    The point of "kids being fine in the US" is crazy if you believe the ideal is to be somewhere else.

    Gut Shabbos!

    ps I'm not a community leader, so I don't have to precede my thoughts and feelings with the implicit "Every situation has to be dealt with individually"...duh!

  • At 12:37 PM, Blogger The Anchorite said…

    IMHO there is a major factor in a family’s successful "klita", and that is what “derech” the family plans to adopt in Israel. Unlike in the US where the lines can blur greatly between the various streams of orthodox Judaism, In Israel you must belong to one stream or the other, i.e. Dati Leumi or Chareidi.
    In my experience, families that adopt a Dati Leumi derech in Israel have a much easier time making Aliyah with kids and teens.
    This is simply because the lifestyle changes are not as radical for thier kids as they are for kids entering the Chredi system.
    I agree with Rabbi H, if a family plans on joining the Charedi derech in Israel, then the sooner they make Aliyah the better, preferably before the oldest child is in 1st grade.
    But, if a family has maintained a Dati Leumi hashkafa, (and the kids are on board with the whole Aliyah idea) they can make Aliyah even if the kids are in HS.

  • At 2:30 PM, Blogger Yakov Horowitz said…


    That is a very valid point re charedi/dati le'umi.

    I discussed this exact point with my wife over Shabbos, and I was actually considering adding a note to that effect on my original web post.

    Charedi society in EY is very different from that of the states, while dati le'umi families making aliya would find things more congruent with their previous life.

    Thank you for pointing that out.

  • At 2:43 PM, Blogger Abbi said…

    I also agree with anchorite. American charedi families who want their children to get a decent secular education in order to be able to make a decent living would do well to stay in America. Those kinds of choices are limited to non-existant in the Israeli charedi world.

    Moving here means being prepared to throw your children's secular education out the window, and anything less than full time learning will cut your son's shidduch chances to nil. (Your daughter had better be prepared to work a full time job while caring for multiple children).

    To be honest, I can't imagine why any American charedi family would want to choose such a life for their children.

  • At 3:38 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    I agree that there are distinctions between chareidi and DL, but I think you all underestimate even the difficulty of klita for DL teens, especially (but not exclusively) boys.

  • At 3:55 PM, Blogger OOS said…

    Careful Gabi, you seem to be suffering from an acute case of Oleh Self Righteousness Syndrome.

    To begin with I would ask you why there is a need for an organization like this
    or this

    This is not to say that the Jewish community in America is an ideal place for teenagers-- there are of course enormous problems there as well. However, one does not need to be a mechanech or a mental health professional to understand that moving to a foreign country with a strange language, new schools, and different, social structures, sports, and mannerisms can create issues for teenagers.

    Like my dad said it is not simple. Too often, families who make rash decisions based on poorly thought out lessons from tanach without consulting a competent Rav pay the price in the end.


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