Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The advantages of working in Israel

After living in Israel for a number of years, I would like to explain the advantages of working in Israel vs. working in the US.

1. You can be an Erev Shabbos Jew. R' Soloveitchik once commented that there are many shomer shabbos Jews in America but there are very few erev shabbos Jews in America. Erev shabbos (especially in the afternoon) is supposed to be dedicated to getting ready for Shabbos. According to the Rambam this part of the mitzva of כבוד. In addition, a person should spend enter shabbos with some thought, calm and not in a rush. In the US if you work, this is very difficult to do especially from November through February where most people are lucky if they get home a half an a hour before candlelighting. Getting home from work 20 minutes before candlelighting, rushing into the shower and then running to shul is not conducive to the spirit of shabbos.

On the other hand, in Israel, I work Sunday - Thursday, I spend Friday afternoon getting ready for Shabbos, cleaning the house, giving the kids baths, etc. I go into Shabbos with a whole day of preparation. It makes a big difference to me.

2. You have the Jewish holidays off and not the Christian holidays. This means that you don't have to spend 7-10 of your yearly vacation days just to take off for Yom Tov. In addition, because the schools are closed on Chol Hamoed, the week of Chol Hamoed is like Christmas week in the US, not much work gets done and a lot of people take off. For the past few years I have not worked on Chol Hamoed and I still have had time to take a family vacation. Pesach or Succos is a different holiday when you are home for the whole time with the family something that I was never able to do when I worked in the US.

3. The culture is Jewish. Even the non-religious people say Shabbat Shalom when they leave on Thursday night and everyone knows when Yom Tov is and no one looks at you funny when you don't shave during sefira, the company has a menora and sells it's chametz, etc.

4. Everything is kosher. Where I have worked, all company events are kosher and the company cafeteria is kosher. It makes life a lot simpler.

5. According to many working in Israel is a קיום of the mitzva of ישוב הארץ (see the חתם סופר בסןכה ל"ו) and therefore makes your daily work into a mitzva where as outside of Israel it is just a way to support your family and has no inherent value.

6. You get to pay 50% of your salary to the government :)


The Observer said...

I lived and worked in Israel for nearly two years, several years ago. I always said that while I loved ארץ ישראל, for many of the reasons you give (well 1-5 at least), מדינת ישראל was going to drive me insane.

bluke said...

I can understand why especially today with what the government is doing. However, I am happy living here and fulfilling teh mitzva and have no intention of leaving.

Jonathan B. Horen said...

I spent 25 adult-years living and working in Israel, most of the time as an observant Jew. I also spent several years living back in the US, during those 25 years. When I'm in the US, I miss Israel; when I'm in Israel, I miss the US.

What I miss about Israel are exactly those things you enumerated, vis-a-vis being an Erev Shabbos Jew especially. Even in Tel-Aviv's trendy Sheinkin area, everyone knew and felt the changes on a Friday.

There, one could recognize a זר בתוכנו; here, I am one.