Two Brazilian sisters are standing out in Israel for being able to reinvent themselves professionally amid the new coronavirus pandemic. Monica and Carol Hauser, 41 and 39 years old, respectively, adopted the Middle Eastern country about five years ago and have since been successful in integrating into society and getting back into the local job market.
But the arrival of Covid-19 changed everything and the two found themselves without work in a country where unemployment rose from 3.9% in early March to 27% in April. Despite all the challenges, the entrepreneurial sisters set out on innovative initiatives that are bearing more fruit than they thought within the local Brazilian community, comprising around 15 thousand people.
Born in Manaus, the sisters moved when still young to Rio de Janeiro. Monica became a journalist and Carol, a business consultant. In 2015, at the age of 35, Carol decided to move to Israel. Even though she spoke little of the local language, Hebrew, she met her current Israeli husband very quickly, but, until recently, spoke to him only in English.
According to Carol, this hindered her job search, especially during 2018, when she went through hiring processes but took a long time to get back on her feet: “I studied in a Jewish school my whole life, but I was always very weak at Hebrew, I was always ashamed to speak. I did not, in fact, speak. I spent the first two years speaking English and it got in the way, I think. During the period I was unemployed, I also went to Ulpan (Hebrew course), took two more courses and changed the language that I spoke to my husband at home. We finally began speaking Hebrew at home”.
During this job search period, Carol started writing a blog in the main Israeli online media in English, “The Times of Israel”, about adapting to the local job market. Earlier this year, she left her last job. But she did not count on a world pandemic like that of Covid-19, which paralyzed the economy.
With the need to seek solutions, Carol created Kadima Brasil, something like “Onward Brasil”: a group aimed at sharing knowledge and networking among qualified Brazilian professionals in the Israeli job market and that already has 500 subscribers in only three months of operation.
“The objective is to consolidate a community, a professional network of Brazilians living in Israel”, explains Carol. “I don’t want to be a recruiting company, that’s not my goal. But it also gives me an idea: to look for companies and offer this large database of qualified Brazilian professionals”.
Kadima Brasil also promotes webinars in Portuguese with people working in some area of interest, such as HR professionals, who explain a little of the differences between Brazil and Israel. One of these differences is informality. Another, the Israeli way of being:
“Everything is much lighter here. I’ve seen people wearing flip-flops at work. For example, the social clothes that I wore in Brazil, everything is still in the same bag, I just have to create the courage to throw them away, or to donate”, says Carol Hauser. “As for disadvantages, I think the Brazilian goes around a lot to explain what he/she wants, while Israelis are more to the point. This is still my biggest difficulty: getting straight to the point, without feeling that I am being rude”.
Pão de queijo (cheese bread) and brigadeiro
Carol’s older sister, Monica, moved to Israel about four years ago, leaving behind a successful career as a public relations (PR) executive in the cultural, fashion and culinary market. The old dream of living in Israel also led her to start life again, at the age of 37, in another country.
Luckily, she quickly got a job as a daycare teacher, another old dream. But she ended up receiving an invitation to work in a tourism agency whose target audience was Christian pilgrims from Brazil. Success in her new career came very quickly. But she also did not count on the turnaround that the new coronavirus would cause in the tourism market in the Holy Land.
With the closing of borders, the travel agency put all employees on vacation without pay, “Thank God that the government is helping here in Israel, but it’s 50% of my salary,” says Monica. “I said: I need to find another way to pay the bills, which keep coming. I need to find a way to get that other 50% back. And then I started thinking about cooking typical Brazilian finger food”.
Monica had been passionate about cooking since childhood, but she had never thought of transforming her gift in the kitchen into a profession. She then decided to learn how to make Brazilian finger food to sell to the community in Israel, eager for a taste of their homeland. It worked so well that today, just a month later, she already has more than 40 clients and is studying opening a company and leaving tourism and daycare centers behind.
“I had never made coxinha, I had never made rissoles… Pão de queijo (cheese bread) was the only thing about all of this – and brigadeiro – that I really had always cooked. So I decided to test, test, test. I began giving away some of my creations to close friends for them to taste. To my sister too. After they were all super approved I decided: OK, then I’m going to start”, says Monica.
Covid-19 was a challenge and an opportunity
For the Hauser sisters, the new coronavirus has become both a challenge and an opportunity. The epidemic was the catalyst for change, as Monica Hauser says: “I think it doesn’t matter if you are an employee or a business owner, you have to be an entrepreneur.”
Her sister, Carol Hauser, thinks the same: “I think the big question of reinventing ourselves is to do what we love, right? Find out what our passion is and do what we’re really passionate about”.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. – Steve Jobs
Written by Daniela Kresch, RFI correspondent in Israel and originally posted at “RFI – BRASIL-MUNDO“, in Portuguese. Translated to English and adapted by Carol Hauser Slapak.