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Tummy bugs, sniffles, and other woes of “olim cholim”


From my latest article in the Canadian Jewish News…

It’s so common here in Israel that there’s a name for it: olim cholim – sick immigrants, laid low with the many ailments that are rumoured to plague us for our first couple of years here.

At first I thought it was just a rumour. We arrived in August, and months later, we’d seen no sign of nasty bugs.

Then, winter hit. Winter in Israel changes everything: it’s damp and cold, open season for every virus and bacterium out there. You wouldn’t think cold would be a problem for hardy Torontonians, but without insulation and central heating, even a little cold can set off lung problems and other complaints.

“Olim tend to pick up everything their first year in Israel,” says Tziona, a Torontonian and mother of four who’s lived in Israel for 11 years. “It gets better after they build up some immunity to the new bugs.”

To find out why Technion Medical School professor (and fellow KShmu resident!) believes the “olim cholim” phenomenon is a real thing, click the image to see the full article, or download the entire Canadian Jewish News health supplement (well worth reading!) over here.

If you’re in Israel now, were you an oleh choleh?  Or, if you stayed healthy, what was your trick???


  1. I think it's true any time you move a good distance. After moving from the NW US to the SE we were all soooooooooo sick. Worst stomach bugs of my life. I had lived large off of my teacher immunity for decades! :) Now we have adapted and rarely get sick b"h. :)

  2. your body has to adjust
    I don't remember being particularly sick when we first made aliyah, but that was a lifetime ago.


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