Interview: 21 Years in Israel (3)

-What were the factors that prompted you to leave Jerusalem?

To put it simply, meltdown! Financial, health, just being fed up with the stress. The intifada of the early 2000's didn't help either. I'm a desert rat by nature, so the Negev was always a consideration. When I lived in Jerusalem, I'd sometimes just hop a bus & to this town and walk around for an hour or so to chill out & breathe some desert air.

I'd taken a very good computer applications course through the Ministry of Employment in 2003-04. The course was in Hebrew, but as a native English speaker, I've been able to continue to add to my skill set. At the time, had planned to come back to the USA. But the health care/social support system is much more developed here in spite of the the fact that day to day life is much less convient and comfortable. There is more of safety net here. In the long run it's easier to maintain one's health and well-being and continue to work. There's no comparable system in the USA. As an ageing Boomer this scares me terribly. I'd like nothing more than to be able to come back home and be near family. Maybe I'll be able to swing it one day. Believe me, I'm not the only American who feels this way.

-Tell me your impressions of where you live now. Can you tell me something about the ethnic situation there?

The day-to-day here is in a word, quiet routine. Our sleepy Negev town is relatively new. So, it's well-planned, very pleasant and convenient to walk around. The original settlers were North African immigrants, and former kibbutz members. Now 40% of the residents are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, a large number of the mature set. So Russian is commonly spoken & used on signage.

I used to get annoyed by the prevalence of Russian, but now take it in stride. Hey, they're fellow olim (immigrants to Israel), so we're really in the same boat in some ways.

There are a few English speakers, Americans, English, Canadian. Many of the veteran residents have moved away or passed on. They were a rather tight-knit group, so I never got to know them very well. With all that, I do have a few friends among the English speakers.