Aliya and the Family
Much of this weeks double Torah portion about the geography of Eretz Yisrael and Jewish settlement of the land is relevant today when Jews throughout the world have an opportunity to settle in Israel but run into some unexpected problems. Jewish identity and aliya to Israel are noble Zionist ideals shared by virtually all Jews until it hits their own family!
Take the case of Roberta Sands, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvanias School of Social Work. Nearly a decade ago her daughter became Orthodox and moved to Israel. Her experience in dealing with this separation prompted her to conduct a study of 14 middle-aged and elderly women whose daughters had become observant and made aliya. Following are a few of her findings:
Initially, the mothers were generally hostile to the religious turn of their daughters but positive about their aliya. Their feelings changed with the passage of time as they reconciled themselves to their daughters religiosity but became upset about being separated from their grandchildren.
The geographical separation between mother and daughter actually improved their relationship. It helped the daughters mature and establish themselves as different from their mothers. Many of the daughters may have transferred their dependence on their parents to their religious communities and rabbis who provide them with counseling and emotional support.
In order to accommodate their daughters and their families when they visited the States the mothers tried to become more knowledgeable about Judaism and Israel, a big boost to promoting intergenerational family continuity. When the mothers visited Israel they dressed modestly according to the norms of their daughters community.
The question that arises from reading this study must be: is it not worth a little sacrifice on the part of Jewish mothers to see aliya and return to Jewish heritage guarantee a solid and secure Israel forever?