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Shock of the New

Getting used to a different way of life can be a daunting experience

All of us at some point in our lives experience transitions. Whether it is the death of a family member, a loss of a job, a loss of a relationship or, as is very common here in Israel, a loss of a country and all that is familiar. For those of us who still remember our aliyah, there were many expectations – both positive and negative – which did or did not materialize.

Having made aliyah some twenty years ago, I still recall the last meeting John and I had with our Aliyah Shaliach in London. It came as a shock to hear him say to my husband: "Brenda was very busy here with her Zionist activities – however when she arrives in Israel she will no longer be a "macher". He continued: "John, you will have to be especially aware of this changetake her for walks on the beach, take her to concerts and generally give her much more time because she will be a 'nobody' in Israel."

Moving from one country to another is a challenging experience. It is a different life. The chances are that both husband and wife will, for the first time, be without their hitherto daily activities. No more getting up in the morning to rush off to work; seeing friends with whom you have a history. Suddenly all that is familiar is gone. I certainly remember the early days of our aliyah when John who, initially, did not know what to do with his free time, decided to accompany me for the weekly shophe, who in forty years of marriage had never come shopping with me, decided to tell me what and what not to buy.

While we were fortunate in having close family and good friends living here, for many this is not the case. Transition can be traumatic, affecting the relationship between husband and wife and parents and children.

Such was the case with Brian and Doreen (pseudo names) who arrived in Israel bereft of close family and friends. Both had recently retired from their respective daily jobs – Brian was in the retail business and Doreen was a speech therapist. Ardent Zionists all their lives, they could not wait to come to the Jewish homeland. How does one prepare for the unknown? However much one thinks one knows how it will be, for sure it is different.

Thrown together, after years of being apart for most of the working week, challenges evolved; not least of all the familiar saying "I married you for life but not for lunch". Doreen for sure could not continue as a speech therapist without a working knowledge of Hebrew, and Brian had no shop to run. Suddenly this couple appeared as strangers to one another simply because they were in a new situation in unfamiliar surroundings. Friction and blame became the norm. It was at this point that they found ESRA's Counselling Service.

ESRA's professionally trained counsellors offer a listening ear and so much more. Sessions are completely confidential, with help offered to anyone experiencing the trauma of loss, be it of a loved one or a loved place.

Need support? Contact Susan at 052 698 9088 or Elisheva at 058 720 9794. Phone now! 

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