New English speaking immigrants coming to Israel face many challenges of integrating into Israeli society due very different upbringings, Israelis grew up watching Charlie ve Chetzi while Americans were watching the Brady Bunch.
Living in Israel myself for five years has been a challenge especially when dating Israelis where the majority of the time the date is spent looking at one another thinking about what else to talk about, even though I served in the IDF, went to an Israeli Yeshiva, have a completely Israeli job where I deal with mostly Israelis and have exceptional Hebrew, there is still a degree of difficulty to completely assimilate into Israeli society.
Increasing numbers of immigrants from English speaking countries have created ex-patriot communities all over Israel, as a security guard for tours working in Beit Shemesh and Efrat all the kids speak English because their parents are new immigrants, there are these blossoming English speaking communities with a sense of community and friendship that can not be found in a traditional Israeli community.
One of these communities with many single religious English speaking immigrants is located in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot where an American immigrant can walk into any small grocery store and buy a Cherry Cola or Mountain Dew, unlike Kiryat Gat or more traditional Israeli neighborhoods where such delicacies have not been heard of or even mentioned in their vernacular.
Due to the increase of these single religious English speaking immigrants who are incredibly tech savvy and rely on social media to get community updates and events like the group Secret Jerusalem, there is a group made recently by Rachel Sachs who made the Facebook group, “ Israel Marriage Minded Orthodox Singles.”
The Facebook group’s purpose is to bring together young immigrants of all ages to meet up and hopefully create partnerships that can be transformed into a marriage, the group is invitational only, but after being around for only a few weeks has managed to gather 507 active members who log in daily to keep posted on events.
First event that was spotted on my news feed was a slip n’ slide and water balloon event in Gan Sacher, participants brought all the materials to make a water slide and accomplished it; according to one participant, “I felt great to let my inner child out after a long exhausting week of work.”
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend because that week my mother and sister were in the country and they were not really interested in going down a waterslide before Shabbat.
The following week on my newsfeed there was a potluck Shabbat picnic in Gan Sacher were Rachel assigned people to bring different things, some where asked to bring grape juice and challah; others brought meatballs and chicken wings, coming from Kiryat Arba and having arrived at three in the afternoon I ended up buying some oranges from a Juice bar at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.
As the Shabbat afternoon approached I asked my friend Jonathan to come and join me for the Shabbat picnic and skip on our usual Shabbat stomping grounds to try out something new, as we walked to Gan Sacher and came near the playground we immediately spotted a few other English-speaking people carrying bags of food with them.
We found a place near the workout machines under a tree with just five guys, we were still missing Challah, and the main meat courses as well as drinks.
More people started to appear with bags of food and blankets to sit on, Rachel showed up with a suitcase filled with food and blankets and we all gathered together to hear the Shabbat Kiddush and wash our hands for the blessing of the bread.
Once all the formalities of Shabbat were done I did my rounds of meeting new interesting people like the three girls from Mexico that had great English and had just immigrated to Israel a few months ago along with a girl from Venezuela who was weighing her options of whether to stay in Israel or go live in Mexico.
People who had been previously married gave others advise on warning signs to watch out for when dating a person.
A few people decided to play soccer while others would throw a football around with little girls whom came with their mother to the picnic, until there were some ankle injuries and people had to sit down and take a break from playing.
Most recently there was a musical get together this week on Thursday when Rachel organized the event on her Facebook group telling people to bring musical instruments and wood to help make a bonfire.
Arriving at the event I went straight to the work out machines and spotted a Brazilian guy I had met at a Shabbat dinner months ago in the old city of Jerusalem along with his friend with long peyots who had an unusual case with him.
The stranger with the strange case and long Peyot was Akiva who was born in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up in Chicago turned out to have a violin in that case and was not just a casual musician, but an actual professional musician who makes his income from playing music.
As the night progressed another fellow appeared with long Peyot, this time tied behind the back of his head with a guitar, Rachel had us look for wood because our bonfire would not start, even though some people including myself gave up and said to just use what we have she still insisted we look for more wood.
More wood eventually appeared due to the increase of people showing up along with refreshments and more musical instruments, we all started to sing the different Jewish songs we know and took turns giving requests to the musicians to play them.
Intermediary breaks between the songs were made to have people around the bonfire introduce one another by stating their names, where they are from in the United States or Canada and what kind of ice cream they like, suddenly a guy from the Jewish community of Nachliel stood up and he taught us a new song about learning Torah.
As the event died down I met George an Iranian immigrant who is an engineer for city hall and we discussed how Los Angles and Great Neck are filled with Iranian Jewish immigrants.
We ended up trading Facebook information and I invited him for a Shabbat in Kiryat Arba to check out the community.
Later I ran into quite a few friends like Eli who I had met a few Shabbats ago, Yoni a friend who I knew back from my days in Ulpan Etzion in Arnon HaNetziv and who can forget Yakov who I met five years ago at a mutual friend’s home.
If you are a single English speaking person and is looking to get married while going to amazing events and meet new and interesting people who share a lot more commonalities than you may have with a native born Israeli look us up on Facebook ” Israel Marriage Minded Orthodox Singles,” after just a few weeks of being around we have 507 member and always looking for more people to enrich our events.