CHALLENGES FOR FAMILIES MAKING ALIYAH
Perhaps the greatest two obstacles for families making aliyah (immigrating to Israel) are finances and learning Hebrew, and they are interrelated. The parents have to contend with earning enough to support their family, but to do this they have to know the language. However, learning the language at a level where one can be a productive wage-earner may take years, which delays the time before being able to get a well paying job. It is almost impossible for the mother to work because of the stress that moving to Israel puts on the children. I do not know one successful story of an olim family getting established here without the mother staying at home to be an anchor for her children. The children have to work through their own issues of learning Hebrew, living in a different culture, and being uprooted against their will. There is very little money designated for Messianic Jews from the Jewish Agencies in comparison to the contributions made for religious Jews to get rooted and grounded here. I think you can begin to see some of the challenges we are facing.
I would like to say a few more words about the children. As I have watched my eight grandchildren, whose ages range from three to fifteen, I have seen the various levels of struggle that they go through. Of course, the two who were born here have known nothing else. But, even for our daughter’s family who live with us, when her two youngest went to nursery school and kindergarten, they had many breakdowns of anger because they could not understand what their teacher or friends were saying to them in Hebrew. Then, there is the 15 year old who was thrown into public school with very little Hebrew and has had to learn ninth grade subjects taught only in Hebrew. It is not too much to say that an older child is probably looking at falling up to two years behind their normal grade level. That prospect is devastating to a straight “A” student.
The children also deal with the fear of losing their identities if they start speaking Hebrew. Not to mention the struggle with their attitudes of not really wanting to be here at all. Hence, new olim families need a lot of prayer and we need to come up with better strategies to help young families get absorbed into this culture successfully.
There is another area, which also needs some additional prayer. The Department of the Interior is again making it increasingly difficult for Messianic Jews to make aliyah. There is a new exclusion they have added to block Messianic Jews from getting citizenship, and it is being applied even to those who are coming here as a descendant of a Jew (as opposed to coming as a Jew with a Jewish mother), which has been a safe category in the past. Now, if they can prove that you have come here as a missionary to convert Jews then you are excluded from citizenship. This creates a gray area because they try to categorize most Messianic Jews as missionaries. They also have a new rule designed to make it more difficult for Israeli men to marry gentiles from abroad. In order for them to bring their wives here they have to wait for the Department of the Interior to grant them a visa first. This has never been the case before. We have a friend whose new bride was stopped at the airport. However, one day, thousands of Jews will be making aliyah from the States and other parts of the world in the midst of rising antisemitism. Perhaps at this time the lid of control will be blown off and there will be once again be greater freedom for Messianic Jews to become citizens of Israel.
Dan and I are once again in the full swing of ministry in the Land and are greatly enjoying spending time mentoring young leaders. We also are seeking to build deeper times between those of more mature age in our local congregation. Dan also has a full schedule of teaching lined up. Please continue to pray for wisdom as we seek God’s will concerning the many opportunities to minister.