Yerida - Leaving Israel and After Aliyah
The Hebrew word 'Yerida' - ירידה - means 'descent' or to go down. It refers to Israeli Jews who leave the country after Aliyah and it also refers to Sabras (native Israelis) who have emigrated to another country.
Image Credit: Times of Israel
According to the most recent figures publish by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2014 nearly 16,00 Israelis left and stayed abroad for one year or more and 8,900 returned. Figures for the four years - 2011-2014 reflect that approximately half of those that leave, return. According to a national poll approximately one third of Israelis contemplate leaving Israel.
After months or years of planning their Aliyah, and the huge effort needed to adapt to the Israeli lifestyle, what are the main reasons for Yerida - people leaving Israel? What makes other Olim want to stay?
Tell someone that you are leaving Israel and you are bound to get a bundle of mixed reactions that might include: "I don't know why you came here in the first place!", "You're making the right decision, things can only get worse", "You'll be back soon - Israel changes you", "This is OUR country, no one wants us anywhere else" and many more.
Whether politically, religiously or lifestyle motivated, a group of 27 Anglo olim, of all ages, recently got together to discuss their reasons for coming on Aliyah, staying in- or leaving Israel.
Best reasons to come in Israel
More single Jewish girls and single Jewish men than in any other country. It's a well known fact that many singles come to Israel looking for a life partner.
Families in the diaspora are frustrated by the rising costs of a Jewish education. Those that cannot afford a private Jewish education abroad are confident that their children will get a decent religious education in Israel's school system.
Good healthcare and support services were also a huge motivation to make Aliyah and a significant reason to stay in Israel. Israel ranks 4th globally in healthcare efficiency (2013). Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan took the top three spots in the rankings. The UK came in 14th, Canada 17th, and the US 46th. South African ranks 132 out of 144.
A couple with two autistic children were so grateful for the medical, educational and financial assistance they received for their special needs children. This type of care was unaffordable for them back home.
The South African members of the group had all had some personal experience with crime. They had been involved in hold-ups, car-jackings or home invasions. In spite of terror attacks and wars, they all felt safer in Israel. The world-wide rise of Anti-Semitism was also cited as good reason to move to Israel.
One of the older couples had retired to Israel. Their U.K. pension afforded them a very comfortable lifestyle here. Some of the seniors in the group had followed their children to Israel. Some had more family here than there. A couple of students had no family here but still felt part of the 'one big Israeli family'.
Reasons to stay
National pride, Zionist and religious idealism also topped the list for many. Some members of the group maintained that their national pride had grown over the years. While things are tougher here in Israel the religious members of the group were committed to staying and fulfilling their religious ideals.
Great weather, great food, a relaxed lifestyle and a wide choice of cultural activities were also popular reasons for staying.
Having a voice in a real democracy was important to one couple who are heavily involved in Hasbara. One of the younger members of the group had come to Israel as a student. He came with a strong left-wing opinion but over time, his political opinions have changed significantly. By the time the evening was over he was anxious to become involved in Hasbara
Many said - "I feel at home here - this is MY country"
Reasons why some leave Israel
Each member of the group admitted that they had thought about leaving at one point or another. Some said going back to their country of origin was not an option and if they eventually decided to leave, they were keen on the USA, Canada and Germany.
Frustrated by the cost of affordable housing in Israel had one member of the group fighting back tears. She couldn't see a way to become a homeowner one day and more immediately, she was struggling to pay her monthly rent. She was tired of living in a shared space but because she was earning less than her friends abroad, she had no choice. She did not feel secure in her current job and had been unemployed for 5 months before she found one. Many of her friends were working in call-centers, customer service and sales at minimum wage. Not finding work in their fields was a reason that many in her peer group thought about leaving.
Employment was discussed in depth. Unemployment was an issue that caused anxiety amongst all the members in the group except for two English teachers who had work all the time. The middle-aged members of the group (50 plus) were frightened that if they lost their jobs, they would never find another one. One group member was self-employed. He was anxious about his retirement and hoped that with all the financial advice he had received, he had put away enough to see him though. If not, these seniors were faced with finding cheaper retirement options abroad.
One member of the group had come to Israel after living in the USA, England and Holland. She felt incredibly isolated in Israel, she was also unemployed. Her political ideologies and opinions are far removed from government policies. She was actively trying raise money so that she could leave.
The army! The parents of one teen were anxious that their son would leave as he refused to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
Lack of manners and respect, a lack of customer service, unbearably hot summers and the general cost of living were common complaints. Are those real reasons to leave or are they just the frustrations we all experience at one time or another?
While some said they came to Israel for religious idealistic reasons they were disappointed at by the divide that existed between the various Jewish religious groups. It was not a reason to leave but they hoped this and many other things would improve with time.