Sunday, November 9, 2008

Making Aliyah and Parenting

There is a great article over at written by Tara Eliwatt, about parenting and Aliyah. She describes the ups and downs of making Aliyah with small children who have to try an integrate into the Israeli school system. Her Hebrew is non-existent and her kids are not much more fluent.

In an emotional moment for any parent she says, "I don't want to leave him. I want to sit with him and talk to him and tell all the boys at the bus stop, "Hey -- you've got to get to know this kid. He's so bright and creative, and lots of fun to be with! He's sensitive and thoughtful. He would be a great friend to have." But they don't speak English, and my Hebrew is poor at best. Instead, I drive the car slowly away, peering into the rear view window to see if he follows my advice.
I can't blame him for not being assertive at the bus stop. I'm afraid to call Israeli mothers on the phone to arrange play dates for my kids. What if they don't understand me? What if they don't want their child playing with an American?"

Organizations that promote Aliyah, like Nefesh B'Nefesh, have done such a great job in helping olim get acclimated in Israel, whether it be helping finding a job, a suitable community, and/or easing bureaucratic red tape. Because of NBN's success, we may forget that a major issue that is beyond the scope of any organization is helping children make new friends, and get comfortable in their new surroundings.

Eliwatt says that a well placed ice-cream cone, or a trip to the park can help ease the transition as it helps bring the family closer and remind all that they are in this together.

She concludes, "But at least a few times a week, (before I've lost my patience, raised my voice or done some other parenting faux pas), my daughter has looked at me with a sweet smile on her face, asking, "Why are you such a good mommy?"
I don't recall ever hearing that question in America.
There is a sense in the family that "we're all in this together." And perhaps, in witnessing our children slowly acclimate to their new life, we are inspired to work harder to adapt and to accept the changes in our own lives."

A must read article for veteran olim, or those contemplating calling NBN and starting the journey to their own Aliyah.

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