Keith Brooks
International Business Executive Living and Working in Israel

5 Years? Seems Like Yesterday We Made Aliyah

Time is fleeting. Where does the time go?

It’s astounding to think that we have been here in Rehovot for five years now.

Finally this school year all three kids will be in high school, we are done with elementary school. For our youngest daughter, the last five years were the most she ever spent in one school and she seem to have dealt with it pretty well. Her Bat Mitzvah is in two weeks and she has 20+ friends invited and it is great to see she has found her circle which will expand this year as she starts Pelech in Kiryat Ekron.

All three kids can’t wait to go to Tzofim camp in the summer, totally unexpected and it is a great organization to teach them skills from leadership, to cooking, to management to being self sufficient. A great byproduct of Aliyah, which of course helps them as they get closer to the army.

My oldest has had her first meetings and is in interviews with the army and while she may not know exactly what she wants to do, she wants to be in the army, not Sherut Leumi. Living here has given her freedom she could not have had in Boca Raton and also a totally different experience and life than her friends and it shows more and more every year.

It isn’t better, or worse, just different.

And that is what Aliyah really is about, being different. Thinking differently about you, your life, your world and those around you.

Everyone wants to find their space here, and trust me, personal space is at a premium, and you have to either go with the flow or be strong enough to live it your way, but recognize it is the harder way.

My Hebrew in five years has gotten better, but my conversational Hebrew is still not very good. A mixture of age and poor language ability, I failed Spanish one semester in high school, and my work environment is at home, so not very conducive to Hebrew learning.

To make Aliyah at 45, even after living here for a few years here from ’96 to ’98 is not enough, if you are not working here. I work with people in Asia, Europe and the US by phone. Recently, I picked up my third client in Israel, maybe with this one I will have enough time to get better conversational Hebrew. People that work here, and don’t get me started about ageism which is why I work for myself, say if you can work here you will get better Hebrew by being with people day in and day out.

If you are making Aliyah, second only to money, is the need for Hebrew. You as an adult need it, your kids will eventually pick it up, they all do, some sooner than others. My wife has great Hebrew and it makes a big difference. If neither of us had it, I am not sure we would make it here very well. If you were never good at languages, start learning now, once you get here you will not have time to do so, you need to earn a living. Luckily I am good at reading languages and grasping what I am reading, a small saving grace, but my wife says I still miss things, which is true.

The dog still doesn’t speak Hebrew, not sure if she wins over me or if I am just trying to not be the bottom of the barrel. She and I have seen our hair go a bit white since making Aliyah, see what the stress of not speaking the language can do to you!

We continue to visit the country, see new things, new experiences, drink more wine and hang out with our friends who five years ago we did not know at all. We love our circle of friends.

This year my wife joined our shul board. And I am now running, with a friend of ours, what is the forth minyan for the chagim at our shul. The things you do, without even thinking about it here, and also because if you want to help, your not viewed by how much money you will bring in, or donate, before someone lets you be a part of an organization.

Food, is by far, the best reason to make Aliyah. I love that I can go eat at a gas station or the greasy spoon place down the road or just grab a shwarma from any place. There are some amazing places to eat all over the country and really everyone should try them as often as possible. When chag comes along, food goes on sale, not increased in prices. For nine days, fish is on sale everywhere. During Pesach, many foods are kosher for Pesach and meat and chicken are on sale, and not crazy expensive. Plus cheeses, so many cheeses.

Bus drivers wish you chag sameach and shabbat shalom which I know is corny, but when you lived in many places and you always felt out of place, these little things remind you that you are home at last.

I was at the Kotel the other day for a simcha and it still leaves me in awe that these ruins and stones are millennia old and all those nations, all those governments, have passed into history and we are still here.

עם ישראל חי

It is proof enough that Jerusalem and Israel calls out to those that are listening.

See you next year when you make Aliyah.

PS in a few months I will be finishing Daf Yomi, started seven years ago this month, nothing to do with Aliyah, just one more achievement for the year.

About the Author
Keith Brooks made Aliyah in 2014 with his wife, 3 kids, and their dog. Keith writes about his Aliyah, Israel and Jewish life in general. Keith advises B2B companies on how to approach their potential clients regarding pricing, marketing and sales pitches. Keith is a MassChallenge Israel mentor, an HCL Master and an IBM Champion.
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