Sunday, March 30, 2014

Aliyah Stories: Moshe Tzvi

Today I present to you the Aliyah story of Moshe Tzvi, from Cleveland, Ohio, who made Aliyah with his wife and four children ages 10, 9, 6, and 3 in August 2013, to Ma'alot in Northern Israel.

His wife is a practicing OB-GYN and he is a former software executive, with previous positions including CTO and Vice President of Product Management, who is currently looking for work in Israel. His wife attended medical ulpan upon arriving in Israel, but Moshe did not, as he is already proficient in Hebrew. The medical ulpan was very helpful for Moshe's wife, who says that there was no way she could have started out at her job as actively as she did if she had not had ulpan. She says she doesn’t know how anyone from the US could be a doctor in Israel without the medical ulpan (unless they were already fluent of course!)

More information on vocational ulpanim offered by the Ministry can be found here.

When planning the move, their biggest concern was for the kids' transition. In Ma'alot it's not predominantly English speakers. Most kids at school don't speak English, so they were worried. But, says Moshe, "thank G-d, it's been fantastic." The kids have acclimated remarkably well. They've made friends and have play dates at home and at their friends' houses. Moshe and his wife are very pleased with how well the kids have adjusted.

Moshe says he and his wife have always felt that Israel is their home. There was no question as to whether to make Aliyah, only a question of timing. They wanted to make the big move while their kids were young, so the adjustment would be easier for them. In addition, the process for medical certification for Moshe's wife took time. She had to finish all her certifications so her license would transfer over and she wouldn't have to re-do all of the testing. There was a lot of paperwork for her to get certified in Israel. Once she sent it all in the certification process worked relatively well. She has to do a three-month residency at a hospital here, which she has now started. But she had to wait a month initially for the bureaucratic details to be worked out. The Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption provides the hospital with funding for her during this period and they had to wait for this to be arranged with the hospital. Other than that wait, the process has been pretty smooth.

The Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption has numerous certification and professional training courses to help professionals transition to working in Israel. More information can be found here.

Moshe, his wife, and their family, have visited Israel many times over their lives. Moshe attended post-high school programs and summer programs, staffed different summer programs, and visited on family trips. Last April he and his wife participated in one of Nefesh B'Nefesh's pilot trips. Moshe describes it as a "very focused trip" where every day they visited a different city that could be their potential home. They met with principals of schools, other olim, and real estate agents in each place. The trip was "exceptionally helpful" for Moshe and his family.

Before the trip, Moshe and his wife were thinking of different cities to live in, but ended up changing their decision based on what they saw and heard during their visits. They had put Ma'alot, where they currently live, on the list because they didn't know much about it, but they were very happy with what they found there on the trip. On the other hand, other cities they had thought would be good fits before visiting turned out to raise questions. In the end, Moshe calls the pilot trip "critical" to their successful move.

Although Moshe has second cousins living in Israel, they don't have any close family, and nobody living near them. He says family in Israel was not a big concern in their Aliyah decision.

Moshe and his family love living in Ma'alot. Moshe and his wife like the suburban feel of the town, with a house and a yard like he and his wife grew up with. They really like the schools in the area as well. The principle of their sons' school actually just won an award a few months ago. They wanted to live somewhere with a more "Israeli" feel, not a mini-America within Israel like some towns are. They also found the northern climate very appealing, as it is cooler than in much of the country.

They have been trying to take advantage of all the beautiful nature in the north by going on hikes and visiting various attractions. They have a map of Israel provided by the National Park Service, with a checklist of the country's national parks, which the kids have started to check off, with the goal of visiting them all.

Upon first arriving in Israel, Moshe says, they felt "excited…certainly emotional" to be here. "We were cautious about the adventure ahead of us, we didn't really know how everything was going to work out, with the kids and work and everything." Moshe says they are definitely feeling more comfortable now, 8 months in. Every day that goes by things get more settled for them. The fact that their kids have done so well was "a huge confidence builder in regards to the move and to some of our uncertainties" he adds. Still looking for work, Moshe concedes that there is still a lot of uncertainty, but a number of their initial concerns have been addressed and sorted out, and they are still incredibly happy to be here. Looking into the future, he says he looks forward to having a job and integrating professionally. He looks forward to his kids growing up, being part of Israeli culture, and starting their own families, hopefully close by.  

"We believe this is the right place for us," Moshe concludes, "this is home…and we have a lot of excitement and confidence about what lies ahead."

Our Ministry is here to help families like Moshe’s, with financial assistance in the form of the Absorption basket, with professional development courses and ulpanim, and special programs for scientists, artists, and athletes. You can find more information about how the Ministry helps with employment here.

We also work with community groups and local government to help new olim absorb into their communities. For more information about any of the programs we offer, we encourage you to contact one of our local offices here.

Before making Aliyah you can also contact a Jewish Agency representative or Nefesh B’Nefesh in North America for more information. Arrange a one-on-one meeting with a Nefesh B'Nefesh representative here.   

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