“Jewish Girls Don’t Live on Farms!”
That’s what my Mum said to me as a teenager living in a middle-class, largely Jewish neighborhood in Sydney, Australia.
It’s also the first line of my chapter in a brand new book of real-life stories of English-speaking Charedim from around the world who have chosen to make their home in Eretz Yisrael.
Living in the Land, by Yoel Berman (Mosaica), offers a wide range of perspectives from olim from various backgrounds – both geographic and hashkafic.
When I opened my copy of the book, hot off the presses, I admit I was mostly curious to see my own article. I didn’t expect too much from the rest of the book other than perhaps some warm fuzzy feelings. My experience with multi-author anthologies, where most of the contributors are not professional writers, has been… well, patchy.
But as I sat down to read, I was simply amazed. It was like finally reading about myself and my own experience of wishing to live in Israel, making the move, and then living here.
There is so much to be learned and gained from reading these beautifully written, true-to-life accounts, and the variety of viewpoints is truly fascinating.
- people who have found their way in hi tech, the professions, the arts and some more unusual sectors in Israel.
- people who have happily made their homes in a huge variety of locations around Israel, including major centers such as Jerusalem and Ramat Beit Shemesh, as well as many that are far from the Center of things and communities with almost no English speakers
- people who made aliyah several times and returned several times, offering honest perspectives on what it takes to make it work.
- even people who have not yet made the move, despite a burning desire to do so, due to serious cricumstances that hold them in Chutz L’Aretz. The acknowledgement of these situations is a realistic and essentail aspect of the conversation.
As such, Living in the Land is essential reading for anyone who is considering moving to Israel due to spiritual ideals. Yet, it is also very enriching for readers, such as myself, who have been living here for a while.
I have been in Israel for over 20 years, and this book helped me refresh my view of what I love about living here, while also providing a deeper perspective on the struggles of current olim.
The book strikes a good balance between the spiritual aspect of the longing to live in Eretz Yisroel, which is universal in every account, and the practical side of how to make it actually work.
It addresses the key questions head-on with detailed practical responses, including:
- How to make a parnassah?
- Which community to live in?
- How to find suitable schools for children?
- Will my kids suffer?
- What about the security situation?
Some of the articles are a bit confronting. There is one author who lost a grandchild in a terrorist attack and several who grew up attending anti-Israel rallies but later, after honest soul-searching, found their hearts and homes in the country they had been taught to scorn.
I congratulate author Yoel Berman for giving us a rare insight into the breathtaking range of views and experiences that exist even in such a small, specific cross-section of the Jewish People.
This is the first such book giving a realistic and entertaining view of life in today’s Israel for Charedi olim. The chapters are not just well-written and edited, but they flow very well from one to the next with a consistently upbeat yet informative tone.
As for my own chapter, which describes my journey from suburban Sydney girl with agricultural dreams to a suburban Ramat Beit Shemesh mommy who is still finding creative ways to live out those dreams – right here on the Bloomah’s Blog.
And the answer is yes! Jewish girls apparently CAN live on farms…
Even my dear mother agrees now!
My name is Naomi and this is my tiny little farm in the heart of the rapidly growing city of Beit Shemesh, Israel. I enjoy growing, making and processing as much of my family's food and household essentials as possible, while nurturing a biodiverse ecosystem filled with beauty and life.