Summertime Check-In

As a Jerusalemite, the summer is a good time to check in and assess how things are going. Each year tourism affects each Israeli, even if not directly. A large percentage of the population works with tourists and even those of us who don’t are affected when tourists come – or when they don’t.

I have several clients who work directly with tourists and most are struggling to get by. This trickles down to me as well. However, as an American Israeli with strong ties to many American Jews, not only does tourism affect my business, but my morale as well.

This year, despite the economic downturn, we have hosted many guests. Some are friends who make regular pilgrimages as rabbis leading groups or Jewish professionals attending summer training or conferences. Several friends have come this year because they felt that it was too long since they had visited Israel and that the time had come to return. Others of our guests are teenage tourists, some of whom are family friends, others of whom are strangers in need of home hospitality for Shabbat. All of these types of guests have continued to flow throughout the year and into the summer. I’m happy that friends, family and strangers continue to be our guests.

In addition to the transients, I know several people who have immigrated to Israel. People continue to come to Israel to live and this summer planeloads of immigrants from North America continue to arrive.

At this point I have been in Israel for almost twenty years. I own a business. I have a mortgage. My three children were all born here and Jerusalem is the only home they have ever known. The day that I landed at Ben Gurion Airport as a new immigrant seems so long ago. Not only was I at such a different place in my life, but many of the difficulties which challenged us and deterred many from making aliyah have all but disappeared.

Today, the connectedness between Israel and the United States is almost seamless. It may still be halfway around the world, but I transverse the distance many times a day within an instant and at hardly any cost.

The distance and expense between my friends and family in the USA has always been the hardest part of my relocation to Israel. However, the ease with which I communicate with friends and family through e-mail, Facebook and other means now available has taken much of that hardship away. I have a US phone number in the 856 area code so for my mother to call me is a local call. I pay a flat rate so calls to anywhere in North America are just over $10/year. While there are those who commute or telecommute to their jobs in the USA, I work with numerous clients in North America with whom I video conference and speak at no charge using free services available on the Internet. None of this would have been possible when I came to Israel in 1990.

Twenty years ago, it cost $1 a minute for me to talk to someone in the USA. When I sent a letter, I used aerograms which were light-weight pieces of paper which were folded in thirds and sealed so that the envelope and the letter were the same paper in order to keep the weight and cost of transatlantic postal services low. Today we send digital media that appears almost instantly as light on screens as text, photos or moving images or as sound at no cost.

The physical, non-virtual distance, has not yet been bridged by all of these technological achievements, but it is cheaper and easier to travel today than ever before. When I first came to Israel, I did not take non-stop flights, but always stopped in Europe. Today non-stop flights from Israel to New Jersey are the rule and they are more comfortable than ever with personalized entertainment centers including tv, movies, games and music.

This week I’ll reconnect with half a dozen different people visiting from the United States – some relatives, college friends, a friend from USY, family friends from Southern New Jersey and others whom I know from my community in Israel. In between these real-world visits, this week I’ll be sending e-mails, facebook messages, tweets and chatting wit text, voice and video. I’ll also speak on the phone to Notrh America several times.

It is certainly different from when I used to spend hours trying to get through to the International operator in order to place a call between Israel and America; one which would cost tens of dollars.

As I finish typing this, I will send it to the editor of The Voice who will receive it within seconds. And if you wish to reply, your comments can be sent back across the ocean by visiting

This sure is better than sending an aerogram, but having you come visit would be even better.

One thought on “Summertime Check-In

  1. Jamice

    Charlie, This is great!! Thanks for keeping the Kesher!! (connection) “hope that is the right word!
    Much Love,

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