NEW YORK – The community of "new emigrants" and old immigrants concentrated in Los Angeles and Toronto is known to every Israeli. But a similar, less known phenomenon is taking place in New York: The emigration of ultra-Orthodox who have left Israel for New York and believe the United States has more to offer than their homeland.
Like other Israelis who are not part of the haredi sector, the economic conditions and social atmosphere play a big part in their list of considerations. But quite a few haredim we spoke to clarify that they are not being driven away by the budget cuts and anti-haredi atmosphere, but rather by problems related to the haredi lifestyle in Israel, which favors studying Torah over going to work.
The exemption from military service is one of the considerations of haredi emigrants.
"In Israel I studied at Derech Hashem, which is known as a yeshiva of boys who work and study half the day," says Yohanan Gorelik, who lives in New York. "In Israel, people automatically look at whoever studies as 'second-class goods.' Here, in the United States, people look for someone with the financial means to make a living, who will not necessarily sit and study all day, who will find time for Torah but will earn a good living."
Since he moved to New York, he says, he has been receiving much more shidduch offers than he received in Israel.
Benjamin Barber left Israel many years ago with only $117 in his pocket. Today he is considered one of the wealthiest people in the Jewish Orthodox community in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
"I came here in great poverty, but with a lot of persistence and power I achieved what I achieved," he says.
According to Tammy Polachek, who immigrated to the United States from Israel 20 years ago, many Israeli haredi women arrive in New York and are welcomed by the Hasidic community.
"Israeli girls simply feel comfortable here, both because the Hasidic movement is suitable for them and because they find friends here very fast. There is a very large Israeli community here," she says.
She arrived in New York in her husband's footsteps. "He was an American and it was exotic for me to move to another place. I thought, what's the big deal? We'll come for three months and then return to Israel. Twenty years later, we're still in the three-month trial period," she says.