By: Hillel Kuttler
“It’s just a mile away, so we’ll come pick you up,” Galia Fisher tells a caller who asked how to get to her family’s house from the Pardes Chana railroad station. “We wanted to live close to the train.”
That was her preference because Fisher, who in August 2016 made Aliyah from Highland Park, New Jersey, with her husband and three sons, wanted to be accessible to a hospital where she could continue her career as a case-management specialist.
Things worked out even better than Fisher could’ve hoped. In September, she will start working at a brand-new hospital and also will be helping to establish the specialty in a country that hasn’t seen it.
The job will be in Ashdod, a two-hour train ride away, but that’s fine with Fisher.
“How could I not do it?” she said of the professional opportunity. “I am very, very, very lucky.”
Her husband Kfir’s job is convenient in the other extreme. As an information technology specialist, he works from home for his long-time, U.S.-based clients. Even the computer repair and accessories shop he opened in July – it’s called MetakTech, a play on the Hebrew word meaning “progressing nicely” – is just a 10-minute drive away, in Zichron Yaakov.
Professionally and personally, things are progressing nicely for the family in the year since arriving in Israel. They settled in a town they adore; Kfir’s mother and brother, and Galia’s cousins, also live in northern Israel; and their sons attend schools they like in the national-Orthodox camp.
Best of all, the Fishers concurred, are the fellow residents of their neighborhood of Yefe Nof, a mixture of secular and observant families.
On the Fishers’ first evening in Israel, neighbors stopped by to invite Kfir and Galia for coffee. The boys – now ages 12, 10 and 7 – had fallen asleep, and leaving them home alone in America would’ve been unthinkable.
In Pardes Chana, the newcomers left them home alone.
Some nights, they and three other couples will gather in someone’s yard or kitchen for schmooze sessions that can last to 1:00 a.m., even with work the next day. The participants dubbed the get-togethers “the parliament.”
One day, a woman at the supermarket placed a large fish order. Galia ordered a whole salmon, and as they waited, the woman instructed her how to cook the salmon, head and all.
“Of course, I’m going to do it!” Galia declares, regarding the recipe. “These people – they know what they’re talking about.”
“The neighbors are key,” Kfir says. “We got extra lucky with the people around us. They’ve been helping us more than 50 agents from the Absorption Ministry could have.”
The Pardes Chana lifestyle agrees with Galia and Kfir, who are Israeli in body and soul. Kfir grew up in Israel before relocating as an adult to the United States. Galia’s father is Israeli and spoke with his kids only in Hebrew. So when deciding to move to Israel, Kfir and Galia wanted to settle in a place they considered authentically Israeli.
“Absolutely not!” Galia declares when asked whether having English-speaking friends in Israel was a factor in where they wanted to live.
Padres Chana feels “like a small town,” Galia says. She should know, having grown up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, home to the smallest population of any National Football League franchise. Galia’s maternal grandfather established an automotive-parts company and knew Vince Lombardi, the Green Bay Packers’ legendary coach.
On a pilot trip to Israel just a month before their Aliyah, Kfir went onto a popular Israeli Web site, www.yad2.co.il, and found the four-bedroom, 2½-bathroom house they’re renting.
David, the couple’s 12-year-old son, comes downstairs to ask Kfir to download a game onto David’s tablet.
Times were tough at first, David explains.
“When Ima told me we’d be going on Aliyah, I was full of emotion and didn’t know how to express myself,” he says.
“But then we went to Roi’s house for Friday night dinner right after we arrived …”
David scoots back upstairs. Galia explains that besides making a friend so quickly, David found a home in the Bnei Akiva youth movement, where his peers were welcoming.
The first 12 months constituted a “vacant year” and a “fun year” for her to get the family settled, Galia says.
The coming 12 months, she continues, “will be the real test, to see whether, with two working parents, it will be another fun year.”
Photo (credit: Hillel Kuttler): Galia and Kfir Fisher with their sons (from left) Rafael, David and Yonatan.