NBN Behind the Scenes: Marc Rosenberg

Meet Marc Rosenberg, Director of the Pre-Aliyah Department, Nefesh B’Nefesh

Marc began working at Nefesh B’Nefesh seven years ago and his role has grown and developed significantly in that time.  He is currently the director of the Pre-Aliyah Department, which includes Overseas Programming – the sub-department which builds and implements the entire schedule of meetings, seminars and events in North America, including the Spring Aliyah Fairs & Mega Aliyah Event. Hundreds of Olim can claim they were guided toward successful Aliyah because of Marc’s help.

We’d like to invite you to get to know Marc a little better.  When you see him at the Mega or one of the Aliyah Fairs feel free to ask him about his kids or why he’s thinking of giving up Twitter.

When did you make Aliyah?
I made Aliyah in 2001 from Cherry Hill, NJ

Why did you make Aliyah?
I spent my junior year of university in Israel and loved the pace of life; the weather, the people, the food. I felt that the future chapters of the Jewish people were unfolding before my eyes and I didn’t want to miss a page.

How did your life in the US prepare you for living in Israel?
It was a good life. I grew up networking, meeting people. I very much wanted to make an impact on the world, so I became a teacher and was very involved in the community, but I was always very interested in what was happening in Israel.

What is the one piece of information you wish you knew before you got to Israel?
That you really can do anything here. If you had said to me 15 years ago that I’d be a manager at a non-profit I would have said “Nooooo, I’m going to be a 7th grade English teacher, that’s not an option.” I was much more rigid. I wasn’t thinking outside of the box. Israel is a place where you can learn to dream new dreams and achieve them.

Has any other family member made Aliyah?
Yes, my older brother came before me. It was a huge help because I made Aliyah before Nefesh B’Nefesh existed and I needed the guidance.

How did your family react when you told them you were making Aliyah?
My mom is a social worker. Her inside voice was screaming, “OMG my son is moving to the other side of the world!” But, outwardly, she was very proud and supportive.

How does your family feel now?
It’s tough missing out on things and family togetherness but with technology it’s easier to connect and travel is more convenient than ever. They know how happy I am here. I met my wife here, I’m doing good things.

Tell us a bit about your family. How many kids do you have?
Five, but I cheated, I have twins

How did you meet your wife?
My wife moved to Israel when she was 9 with her family.

We were both working on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus), I was working for a gap year program and she was running programs for the Hillel on campus. She was organizing a retreat and the English-speaking facilitator backed out the night before it was slated to begin; my wife needed a last-minute educator who could run a program.  Friends suggested me – and I had no real plans for that weekend.  We were the only ones our age there and on the ride back to Jerusalem I decided that I would ask her out on a date later that week. That was almost 13 years ago.

How did you find your job?
Before I made Aliyah, I wanted to come to Israel for my older brother’s wedding. Being a teacher, I had the summer off. So, in order to get to Israel, I took a job as a summer tour counselor. On my very first day in Israel I was approached by a gap year program and was offered a job for the following year, so I made Aliyah with a job. I figured once I was in the educational system, I would find a teaching job. I joined their faculty and worked there for six years. During that time I began working on my PhD in English Literature at Bar Ilan. When it came time to renegotiate my contract, a friend suggested I meet with an employment counselor at Nefesh B’Nefesh to see what my options were. Rachel Berger showed me how to transfer my skills into PR and Marketing and I ended up on the PR team at Nefesh B’Nefesh! The rest is history.

What would you say is your number one priority as Director of Pre-Aliyah?
To make sure people know we are available for them. By email, by phone, in person, on social media. To provide real and honest information.

Tell us about any challenges you’ve overcome.
When I transitioned jobs we were moving, my wife was pregnant with twins and other life challenges. I needed to get a job ASAP. I was able to come up with a new plan with the help of my network. Thank Gd we could rely on Israel’s healthcare system. There will always be waves of change, bad news, ups and downs. We need to be flexible and see the good in different opportunities that come our way. I have been blessed to see the door that opens when one closes. Be flexible.

What keeps you going?
The chance to help people, to help people see the humor, and to give a hand to someone when I know they have the opportunity to do good in the world.

What do you love about living in Israel?
The weather. That you don’t have to check it. You know it’s going to be sunny and warm 8 months of the year. I love the diversity: shuls, food, opinions – never judge a book by its cover. Never assume someone’s religious when they’re wearing a kippah or vice versa.

If you could have lunch with anyone famous, alive or dead, who would it be?
Menachem Begin.  I don’t think I could actually eat with him – just listen and learn.

How are you similar to your mother/father? How are you different? In what way have your parents or the way you were raised shaped you into the person you are today/influenced your Aliyah?
I am a nice mashup of both. I remember helping set up and clean up the Hadassah meetings my mother hosted. I also have my father’s sense of humor and ability to engage with people. Like my parents, I have a deep connection to the Jewish people and motivation to do good for others.

Thinking about your pre-Aliyah days, is there anything you would change so that things might have gone a bit smoother? What advice do you have for the young man you were before Aliyah?
Maybe don’t get your masters before you come. My Aliyah was incredibly smooth – the advantage of coming at age 25. I came with 2 bags. Learn more Hebrew! Follow your dreams. Live out loud.

Do you have any regrets?
Not taking enough advantage of my degree in the US.

Who do you follow on Twitter?
@Lahavharkov – reporter at Knesset. She has her finger on what’s happening there. Witty. Good stuff. @OMTorah. Open Minded Torah. My professor of English Lit., @NefeshBNefesh @BillMurray– not really Bill Murray but really funny. But, actually, I’m thinking of getting off Twitter.

Why Jewish Lit?
My old job pushed me to start a PhD. I had connections with outstanding professors and scholars from around the world.

What will you be doing at the Mega Event and the Aliyah Fairs?
I’ll be there to answer questions, do a few presentations, and provide resources.

What is your favorite thing about this job?
I get to see people’s dreams come true. In Israel we are living out loud. Streets are named after our heroes and the books we treasure. Our heroes are real people. I am proud to be raising my family here and I want to help other do it too.