Last month I was at the most emotional ‘toast’ to an employee leaving the office that I had ever been to. And believe me, I’ve been to a lot over the last 30 years.
Israel is made up of 100s of 1000s of lone ‘soldiers’. OK, Some of us are not fighting in the army, and some of us are not really alone, we have family around us, but all Olim Hadashim (new immigrants) are ‘lone soldiers’. We are thrown into a turmoil of new rules, and culture, and living conditions; we soldier on to survive in not-always-easy conditions, without everything we know, and without our loved ones that we upped and left behind.
I have been lucky enough, like many of my friends, to marry an Israeli after making aliya. He has a great family, who welcomed me wholly with open arms right from the very beginning.
But still, I have always been very aware that my anglo-friends (and my ‘sabra’ friends too actually) are more than friends; they are MY family. Each one of these ladies has their own story, their own reason for giving up their former life and coming to Israel; each one has their own ‘sritot’ (scratches) and their own challenges. But when any of us needs anything, we all come together to help as if ‘their’ problem is ‘our’ problem.
Last month, at work, one of my colleagues over the last 9 years left our office to return to her family in Colombia. To be fair, she didn’t leave the company, she is such a value to the company that a position has been created for her in Latin America. But her leaving speech, reminded me of myself, and reminded me of some of my best ‘only in Israel’ experiences.
Alex came to Israel, for her love. She married and has a beautiful child. She did not speak Hebrew, and did not know the culture. She was interviewed for the job before she even arrived here, and has been in the company ever since. Now she said, and I fully understand her, that the company (read colleagues/managers/side-kicks….) has been her savior (my word, not hers).
She has found at work a large family of people who love her, support her, advise her, teach her – not just the job, also the culture, the religion, the language. She has been welcomed in with open arms.
She is not leaving because it’s not good. She’s leaving because she needs to be with her parents right now. But to hear her genuinely thank her manager, and her friends and colleagues – her family over the last nine years – brought tears to many people’s eyes.
We are all ‘soldiers’ here, and Israelis will do anything to support their soldiers. And as sad as it is that Alex is leaving, it was great to be reminded of this truly ‘only in Israel’ camaraderie and warmth that I have experienced so many times since I arrived here nearly 30 years ago.
Good luck Alex, and only good health and hugs to your family. We are missing you already.