How did this crazy idea come to be, you ask? Well, I blame it all on my husband. For years he talked about his dream of making Aliyah. How do you avoid disappointing your spouse and still get away with not moving? “Maybe one day.” That’s what I used to tell him. As in, when we are really old or really broke. It never occurred to me that we would end up making the decision to move to Israel despite the fact that we were neither old nor broke. Well, it all sort of started to take shape in what I now, looking back, realize was a conspiracy on his part. Hear me out, will ya? On November 13th, 2012 our youngest daughter was born and just a day or two after getting home from the hospital, while deprived of sleep and under the influence of Percocet or some other painkiller, he said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we moved now? A new beginning with a new baby in our life?” I may have been under the influence of baby blues, but I clearly remember not saying “yes”. I think I said “maybe”. The truth is that it made sense to move then; we had days before sold an ATM business that we had operated for the prior 6 years and that besides having left us with some money, was the only thing tying us down – other than family and friends of course. Well, he took my “maybe” and ran with it and 9 months later we were here, getting teudot zehut and unpacking our new lives.
How are we doing? Awesome. That’s a word I think that does it justice. He may be the one I blame for the crazy idea, but he is also the one who can take the credit for how amazing it has been moving here. Has it been easy? Not always. Do we love it here? Hell yeah. It has been an incredible three years.
Our first year here was one of adjustment, of learning Hebrew, of getting to know our way around our town and getting to travel around our country, of acclimation, of making friends. Our second year was of getting ourselves immersed in Israeliut. When we moved here we had the idea of starting our own businesses. We had been serial entrepreneurs in America and we wanted to be entrepreneurs here too, but getting accustomed to a new country and getting a new business off the ground was tough, so we joined the job market. You ask about challenges and I think having to readjust our expectations was one of them. I have a background in marketing and advertising and I have always loved writing (can’t you tell? This is getting lengthy) so I took a job as a content writer at a marketing firm. I loved getting paid to do
what I loved. A year later I stepped up the corporate ladder and became the senior content manager of a high-tech
firm and I’m in seventh heaven when it comes to my professional life. I write for several industry magazines and am in charge of all the marketing content developed by the company. After two years of my husband working at a financial firm, he was finally able to go back to focusing on his own business. We are both giving back to the community by volunteering. He is a volunteer police officer and I play an active role in an organization that empowers women in the workforce and strives, through legislation and awareness, to achieve gender equality both at home and in the workplace. We are doing well, we are happy, our kids have friends and thank Gd are striving. We are being blessed in so many ways here in Israel, I could not imagine not having moved.
Advice? The best advice I can give to new Olim or people looking to make Aliyah is to stop thinking about hamburgers (or tea if you are English I guess) and start thinking about falafel balls. You are not in Kansas anymore. This is not your home country and guess what, things are different here. But isn’t that why you are moving? To have something other than what you have? Well, when you get here, come with an open mind. Come ready to face Israeli bureaucracy and disorganization, come ready for strangers commenting on your life choices or your baby’s wardrobe, come prepared to be yelled at by the bus driver and hugged by the store owner, and stop asking where you can find Cheerios. Israel is different. Take it all with a grain of salt (or a spoonful of sugar) and a lot of humor. The first word Israelis want you to learn is Savlanut (patience); the irony is, they don’t have any. There are no words to describe Israelis (maybe hand gestures). You see, Israelis are impatient, they yell, they speak with their hands, they cut in line, they have no concept of customer service as we know it, but boy, are they there when you need them. You don’t have to ask for advice to get it, and not because they are nosy, but because they care. You don’t have to ask for help, because if they see you stranded on the road, they won’t think about how late they will be to the meeting they are running to, but they will stop and help you. They genuinely care about others and have a unique way of showing it.
I can’t imagine what would have happened if my husband hadn’t packed our bags based on a “maybe”. I love this country. I love how my kids can walk around freely without me fearing something bad is going to happen. I love how we can take a day trip and see the sea and snow in the same day. I love the food and the people.
My “only in Israel” story? I’m going to borrow one from my blog on Aliyah, the one that perfectly describes the people of this country. Israelis have a “Yiddishe-mamme” complex. I was at the grocery store just a few months after moving here and I was buying cheese at the counter for lasagna I wanted to make. After the counter attendant diligently searched through my grocery cart and replaced the pre-packaged cheeses I had gotten from the refrigerator with ones from the counter because as he said it, the ones at the counter are less expensive per kilo and better tasting, he “suggested” I put pesto in my lasagna. Now, I am not big on pesto, so I told him I didn’t like it. He opened his eyes in disbelief and signaled me to wait (you know, the “Rega” hand signal where they put all fingertips together upward). He went to what I assume is a back kitchen, only to come back with a spoon full of pesto sauce, which he proceeded to feed me! I had no choice but to open my mouth and eat it.
So that’s our Aliyah story in a nutshell.