Reasons for global immigration
Push factors are reasons that compel or push people to leave the area of where they reside and settle someplace else. Common factors can include armed conflict, disaster exposure, gender inequality, lack of job opportunities, political corruption, and lack of access to competent healthcare and education. In simple terms, push factors are negative reasons that prompt individuals to leave.–LIRS.org
Pull factors are, on the other hand, the exact opposite of push factors. They attract or pull people to move and settle in a particular area. Common pull factors may include better work opportunities, greater security, and access to adequate healthcare and education. Simply put, pull factors are positive reasons that prompt individuals to move.–LIRS.org
Aliyah = Jewish repatriation to Israel
Nearly 30% of Jewish Israelis were not born in Israel, and while many move to the historic Jewish homeland for various combinations of the “push” and “pull” factors listed above, many others move to Israel simply because they are Jews and want to build their families’ lives in the Jewish State for reasons of national and/or religious identity. As far as I know, this particular “pull” factor is unique to the State of Israel.
Israel’s government encourages Jews to immigrate to Israel through its “Law of Return” and offers them benefits. There are also various NGOs that provide services and resources to Jewish immigrants. However, moving to Israel is very challenging, even with the support available. Acquiring a new language is a great challenge, as is learning to navigate a foreign culture.
In reality, many Jews who attempt to make Aliyah eventually give up on living in Israel and return to the countries of their births. For one thing, Israel’s job market is very competitive, particularly in today’s global economy; and – some who move away from their families and childhood support systems fail to establish new ones here in Israel.
I personally know a number of immigrants who ultimately gave up on their attempts to start their lives anew in Israel and others who are continuing to struggle socially and professionally, even after many years in this country.
Language limitations in a professional context
Israel has a vibrant technology sector, and language tends to be less of a professional barrier for immigrants who bring technical skills with them. However, for those of us in the social sciences and humanities, the professional challenges tend to be greater.
I still recall a particular job interview for a position as a communications director at an NGO, which I had several years ago. It was going swimmingly for me until I explained that my written Hebrew was not native. Given, I speak, read, and can write in Hebrew, but the reality is that the communications field requires high level language skills… And my Hebrew is not at a mother tongue level, nor will it ever be. The people interviewing me, who really liked me, offered me a part-time position as an English language writer, but they couldn’t justify hiring me due to my language limitations.
Essentially, this means that careers in communications in English are quite competitive here, as there are many immigrants from English-speaking countries, such as the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, South Africa, etc. Israeli employers can afford to be particular when seeking candidates for such positions.
Crossing the threshold to successful absorption
In advance of starting my new job as an English language writer at the Jewish Agency for Israel, which I will be entering into in another week, I’ve had to fill out a lot of online employment forms, including forms for life insurance, health insurance, and union membership… And registering for these wonderful benefits has put me into a reflective mood.
In many ways, this is really an immigrant’s dream come true – it’s a job that I am looking forward to on its own merits; one with friendly coworkers, job security, and good benefits. Honestly, it’s something that I’d never counted on happening to me.
Now, to be clear, this had nothing to do with my self-confidence. I am more than confident in my ability to perform well at my new position as a writer, and I think that I am, indeed, a perfect match for the needs of JAFI’s fundraising team in many ways.
Still, I also know that there were many applicants for my position, and there was certainly a measure of luck involved in my being selected over the rest. While I am certainly a very talented writer, there are many English speaking immigrants living in Israel who can write.
The young age of forty-two
I am now forty-two years old, and if I had stayed in the USA, instead of moving back to Israel (I was born here) when I was nearly thirty-years-old, I would have had developed a secure career for myself long ago. Back in Washington, DC, I was on a career track… Although the work itself made me miserable, which I do take into consideration.
Immigrating requires many people like myself to perform a hard reboot in their lives, which often carries real psychological and practical consequences… Moving to Israel as a thirty-year-old has been difficult for me, and admitting this is me at my most vulnerable.
All of this is to say that I am profoundly grateful to be entering into this new, welcome stage of my Israeli life.