Taking the Plunge
Moving to Israel has been a dream of mine ever since I first visited the country almost 30 years ago. It took me over 20 years, though, to actualize that dream. In the summer of 2003, my wife and I, along with our three children moved from our comfortable surroundings in Los Angeles to Israel. Unlike most other Olim at the time, we decided to move to the North.
Everyone on the NBN flight asked us why we were moving to the North, and why to Maalot of all places. The reason was simple: we wanted our kids to grow up in an Israeli society where life was simpler and nature was all around. Another huge factor was that my wife’s best friend lived close by, in Nahariya. She felt that a strong support system was the key to an easier absorption.
Nearly six years later, I can honestly say that our move to the North was the right choice. Our children are fully immersed in Israeli culture and are happy and content individuals. They are actively involved in the city’s Bnei Akiva program and have made some really good friends. I’ve asked my kids if they would ever think about moving back to the United States. The answer from all three children was a resounding “no.” They feel that Israel is their country and that it is their home.
As far as our professional pursuits, my wife works as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings. She is professionally fulfilled and feels like she is making her mark on Israeli society. I write and edit for several websites and also work part-time as the Regional Klita Coordinator for Maalot. My goal is to ensure the smooth transition and absorption for new Olim who move to Maalot.
When people ask me, “What’s so special about Maalot?” I answer them that no other Israeli city can compare. Practically no other city in the country is as well maintained and clean, and its lush and picturesque setting is reminiscent of a quaint European town. In fact, with nature reserves just minutes away and the Mediterranean only 20 minutes by car, there’s no better place. To top it off, the city’s residents are extremely warm and hospitable, and make you feel like it’s home the very first week you arrive.
Steve & Debbie Rosenthal, NBN 2003
Ever since we moved
– six years ago – from Detroit, Michigan to Maalot, our children started using funny patterns of speech which were actually Hebrew phrases translated into English. They say things like, “Can you save on this for me?” (Translated from אפשר לשמור על זה בשבילי )
or “Like that, like that” (Translated from ככה ככה – the Hebrew expression for “so so”). These little mix-ups always bring a smile to our faces because they reflect the degree to which our Aliyah has been successful and we’ve become integrated into our new home.
When we made Aliyah, we deliberately chose a place where our kids would learn to speak Hebrew as Israelis and become a part of the culture. Our five children (ranging from age 2 to age 11) speak Hebrew fluently and beautifully. At this point, their English has started to have a slight accent. Most of our kids have lived in Eretz Yisrael longer than they lived in America and they recognize it as home. They are happy and fit in very well with the kids in our community.
in the North, for many of the same reasons that influenced our decision to come here. We heard the North was more laid back and provided a quieter community life than the bustling cities in the center of the country. We feel that our kids have a lot more freedom here than we could allow them to have in a bigger city. We are fortunate to have a great house with a big yard and that is something that would be hard to find and probably be unaffordable in other places.
I am a stay-at-home Mom, although I do some writing over the Internet in my free hours. My husband Sim works in the computer field in Haifa. He commutes about an hour each way, often in a carpool.
We feel very blessed to have had such a fabulous adjustment to a new country and are thrilled that we ended up in a place that suits us so well.
Golda and Sim Zacks NBN 2003
We have been living in Maalot
since 1990. We have five children aged 18, 17, 15, 13 and 2 ½. We made Aliyah separately and met in Israel. Here are our stories:
David’s Story: I made Aliyah from South Africa, on my own, in 1990, after doing a three-month Livnot U’lehibanot program in Zfat in 1989. I dreamed of Aliyah, and my dream came true. From the time I arrived in Israel, everything just fell into place. I hold an advanced degree in Mechanical Metallurgy, and within two weeks of making Aliyah, I landed a job in my field at a company called Iscar Hardmetals, a world renowned blade cutting manufacturer which is located in the Tefen Industrial center (ten minutes from Maalot). In 1995 I decided to venture out on my own and I now head a company which develops software systems for traffic police. The company is based in Maalot and works with software developers and customer service people situated in England and South Africa. The end customers are in England.
I made Aliyah with my parents and siblings in 1972 and completed high school in Israel. I did my National Service in Maalot in 1976 and then completed an LLB at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I worked in Industrial Management in the textile industry for about 18 years and then decided to become a part-time housewife and part-time student.
We all LOVE Maalot. It is not too big and not too small. We enjoy the wonderful mix of people here; religious, non religious, Moroccans, Russians, some French and Americans and a wide socioeconomic spread. There’s plenty of opportunity to give and volunteer, wonderful chesed projects. The Torah community is very strong, with a Yeshivat Hesder serving as an anchor. David has four chavrutot (Torah study sessions with friends) a week. People are very open and warm. There is an excellent health care system, starting during pregnancy and continuing onwards. There is a decent education system in and around Maalot, both for the religious and non-religious populations. The education system helps kids prepare for their Bagrut (matriculation exams). Between school and youth groups, kids get a strong love for Torah, Am Yisrael and the country.
Maalot has convenient supermarket shopping. There is a fruit and vegetable market once a week if you are into really fresh vegetables and you will always bump into friends while you’re doing your shopping. Basic clothing shopping is available (especially for women) in Maalot. More varied shopping is available in Nahariya, 15 minutes from here.
Maalot is relatively quiet. You need to go down to Nahariya if you want to see a movie, but it is peaceful and beautiful and the short distance from big shopping centers means that our kids are not as materialistic as they would be otherwise, and do not feel like they are part of a “rat race”. Nature walks begin down the street or a short walk away, depending on where (within the community) you live.
Our kids have told us on numerous occasions that they would never want to live anywhere else. We feel very blessed to be here.
David and Aliza Freinkel