An Opportunity to Create, Not Fear
by Valeriia Pantiukhova
Six months ago an unusual dream came true. It wasn’t something materialistic, but for me it was priceless. I was building for myself a new life.
Still aboard the plane after landing at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, all I wanted to do was get off, pass through through the welcome hall decorated with bright posters, and to know that I do not have to go back to the Ukraine anymore. Never had a hall seemed so bright to me!
I knew that with this dream coming true, there would of course be challenges and difficulties. But with the obstacles I had already overcome to get to this point, the existing demands did not and do not scare me.
Moving to a new country brings with it different perspectives on life. There is a new environment, situations and expectations that you will face. For me, it is social interaction where I really feel my life has changed.
When I speak with my new neighbors they ask me, “weren’t you afraid to move to a new country and make a fresh start?” It seemed at some point that I could not escape this question. In responding, I realized that people were shocked by my decision to radically change my life.
Radical, yes, but necessary. For me, living in the Ukraine felt like a balloon that you could not pop. I was trapped on the inside. No matter how determined I was to succeed, I found I could not achieve my goals.
My law degree was not enough to get me a job. I needed friends and family that could pull strings for me. As I tell my new Israeli friends they can’t believe how bribery is almost built into the system over there. Yes, you can buy yourself a degree if you really wanted to.
The corruption and the suffering economy are an added strain to daily life for everyone - but most especially for Jews. There are many poor pensioners that count every coin just to buy half a loaf of bread. And after overcoming the day to day routines, there is also the nighttime fear. Now that I live in Israel, I sometimes forget about the 9pm curfew I used to have. It was this hour that we considered “late night,” and dangerous because we had no civil security. You could be attacked and the police may never come to help you. It isn’t a way to live at all...
When I ask other new immigrants that moved to Israel from the former USSR why they decided to leave and take this huge leap in life, most say it was due to “gang systems” that run rampant across the country. Life is unfair and dangerous, and most fail. On the outside, it is hard to understand just how devastating life is in the Ukraine. For me, living through it, it was clear that if I wanted anything different for myself, I would have to move on and out.
Many people are scared to change their life. They are scared to change daily routines, let alone decide to move to a new country, with a different culture and language. Of course there is fear in the unknown. But these people give up before they even start. They lose sight of their aspirations. They let the unknown grow and become so overwhelming that they become convinced that it isn’t worth the effort to make the change, no matter how difficult their life is.
As I have learned since my Aliyah, here the unknown is new and exciting. This is how I see and have come to accept “the unknown.” Moving to Israel was, for me, an opportunity to create a future, not fear it.
Now that I am here, I still see many around me who would rather complain about life than live it. They are complaining rather than seeing the opportunities they have right in front of them. Change must come from within. The result is the sum of the fight for our dream.
For me, I had been fighting everyday to be here in Israel. And now that I am here, I’m leaving the dream behind and putting all my heart into building a reality that I can be proud of.
I did not and will not give up. I am really home now.
Valeriia Pantiukhova from Eilat. I'm new citizen of Israel and want to share my experience and impressions of living in my new native country.