Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Advice for jump-starting a career in Israel after aliyah

Rachel Gang, living her dream as a therapist in Israel.
By Megan E. Turner

It was the need that attracted Rachel Gang to Be'er Sheva. The need and the opportunity to answer it. "I really liked the southern part of the country, and I saw that Be'er Sheva was lacking resources for mental health services," said Gang, 29, a social worker and educator who made aliyah from Baltimore in the summer of 2018. "I’ve always been social justice-oriented, so I didn’t want to go to Tel Aviv or the center -- I wanted to go where there’s a need." And that’s exactly what she did after spending summers and an academic year teaching English in Israel's north and south.

"Even in the U.S. I always worked in 'the frontier,'" Gang said, "usually in an education-related field, whether it was as a teacher or a social worker." When deciding on where to live in the south, community life was an important factor in Gang’s decision, and Be'er Sheva's revival as an attractive, hip city for young people -- thanks to projects spearheaded by Jewish National Fund's Blueprint Negev -- made it the perfect place to call home. "It’s also more affordable than the center," she said.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

American eats meet Israel as L.A. transplant brings food trucks to Golan

Shimon Shain, holding one of the food items from his food truck, Shimmy's.

By Alan Rosenbaum

"We’ve basically made a mini-restaurant on wheels," said Shimon Shain. "Even the health inspector was impressed with the design of the food truck." Be it sushi, tuna melts, a classic falafel sandwich, fish and chips, fries, waffles, hearty pancakes, a refreshing ice coffee, or just plain toast, Shain and his small fleet of food trucks around Israel's Golan Heights serve anything and everything to tourists, workers, and students. But don’t expect the menus to stay the same for long; they vary as clients' demands change.

Brooklyn-born and raised, Shimon, 34, and his wife, Sara, moved from the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles in July 2016 to the calm and tranquility of Hispin, a scenic town of 1,400 residents in the heart of the Golan Heights. "We like the cattle and the agriculture. We preferred to live in the north or the south -- in a quiet area," Shain said.

The Shains felt like there was still something missing from the Golan scene. Shain, who studied at the Jerusalem School of Culinary Arts, used his expertise in gastronomic studies and his extensive experience in the food industry to establish Shimmy’s, a mobile food service -- known as the beloved food truck in the U.S. -- that prepares and sells food throughout the Golan region.

Grainy photo at Jerusalem historic site stirs tears: 'This is who we are'

Ammunition Hill: 1 of more than 150 heritage sites around Israel open to visitors.

By Doran Miller

My personal connection to Israel runs deep. My mom and grandmother are Israeli. My grandfather was born in Germany and fled to British Mandate Palestine in the early 1930s to escape the rising Nazi regime. My entire life, I've been steeped in the stories, music, and culture of Israel. I'd been to Israel before, of course, and I consider myself very familiar with Jewish National Fund’s work, so I thought I knew what to expect from this summer's Jewish Leadership Institute Mission: an action-packed week traveling around the country to see JNF affiliates and projects firsthand. The truth is I had no idea how powerful the experience would be.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Brewer from Kansas crafts creative beers in the heart of Tel Aviv

Jason Barnett, an oleh from Shawnee, Kansas, took his beer brewing hobby and, with assistance from Jewish National Fund partner Nefesh B'Nefesh, started a successful craft beer brewery, Opus Brewing, in the heart of Tel Aviv. Here's his story.

What made you decide to make aliyah? 
I studied abroad in Israel my freshman year, just as the second Lebanon War broke out. The experience reminded me that the world can be a dangerous place for the Jewish people. I made aliyah in August 2010 and that October I entered the IDF's 101st Airborne Brigade.

How did you get started in the beer brewing business?
I loved sitting with friends at bars but didn't love needing to pay for the simple privilege of enjoying a beer with friends. I decided to make my own beer and began whipping up my first batch of amber ale. Truth -- it was terrible. After four years of amateur brewing, I got a job working as a brewer's apprentice at the Dancing Camel in Tel Aviv and began teaching brewing workshops. Nefesh B’Nefesh invited me to conduct my first workshop at their Tel Aviv Hub, and in January 2018, Opus Brewing was born.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Saving lives in Israel's Negev desert: U.S. doctor settles in to new life

Dr. Michael Star, a neurologist in the Negev desert.
By Megan E. Turner

As one of only two stroke specialists in the entirety of Israel’s Negev Desert, this Indianapolis-born neurologist is a coveted gem. With that status, the glaring question is: why did Dr. Michael Star, 34, and his young family make aliyah and decide to live in Yerucham, a once dusty development town that is now experiencing a revival and building boom thanks to Jewish National Fund?

"We knew we didn’t want to live in the center of Israel," said Star of his and his wife's choice to make their home in the south in 2016. "We started out in Be'er Sheva, but we didn’t find a community that fit us," he said. "I was happy with my job at Soroka Hospital, so, we decided to start looking for communities around Be’er Sheva, and that's how we found Yerucham."