Glimpses of Israel - The Immigrants in Israel

by Joy Hunting

They have come from many countries. They have come back to their own land seeking a new and rewarding life in the land of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Some have been forced to move from circumstances that have been less than ideal; others have had a stirring in their hearts or even a religious desire to return to the land God promised to give them as an everlasting possession.

It is never an easy task blending cultures and languages into harmonious communities when people have come from diverse situations. Each ethnic group has its own needs, even problems, and those responsible for helping newcomers in the fields of language and medicine and housing and employment often have their work cut out coping with the unknown, as they have to adjust to new needs and learn new skills in order to be a help.

Medical staff for instance had to learn that when an Ethiopian immigrant said, "My pain is blood" or, "I have pain in my heart" it probably wasn’t a cardiologist that was required; the woman meant that she was pining for family, or her heart was heavy and sad. Culture shock has taken its toll, and will take its time to heal, as one Ethiopian proverb so succinctly says: "Slowly, slowly will the egg walk on its own feet."

Israel nevertheless has benefited from the great influx of olim into every sphere of society. They have brought education, expertise and diversity beyond belief, and these have all enriched an already skilled and competent nation, a nation that in its turn makes an enormous contribution to the welfare of less fortunate nations than itself.

Tradesmen, scientists, writers, technicians, doctors, educators -- the list is endless -- who have come from all the countries of Europe, and the C.I.S., Africa, the Americas and more, are all making their contribution and finding their feet in the land where Hebrew is once again the national language and where their hope is to live in peace both in the land and with their neighbours.

But one group of olim has been especially imported to live in Israel’s northern forests in order to fulfil their destiny as one of the world’s hardiest breeds. They are the South African Boer goats! Goats are invaluable in their ability to eat the undergrowth -- small bushes, fallen leaves, dry grasses, climbing plants and low leafy branches – and the local breed of goat was gradually decreasing in numbers, it was hard to control, reproduced seasonally and all at the same time and had only one kid at a time, as well as having to be milked daily.

So the South African goat was chosen to make aliya, as it is docile, produces three times a year and two kids at a time, is very adaptable to climatic changes and differing types of terrain, and is basically a meat rather than a milk producer. The goats as olim have been very successful. They produce an excellent example surely to all the peoples in the Middle East!