I am on a journey, to make Aliyah, and want to share my journey with my family, friends and anyone that is interested. I made the decision to make Aliyah in December 2002 and now I am actually doing it. This blog will chronicle my story and adventures leading up to getting on the plane and then the continuing story of the beginning of my new life in Israel and what I experience once there.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What am I going to do?

Next question... "What are you going to do when you get there?"

Well at first I'll take a little time to acclimate. I'll get signed up in an ulpan (intensive language program - 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 5 months). Once I get into a normal routine, I can really get to work. We have several things we are working on that will keep me busy.

Our first endeavor is that we are building a specialty medical and dental clinic. There is a shortage of specialists in Israel and we have designed this project to bring 450 doctors and dentists to Israel with their families or friends every year. Once this is built we will use this as a showcase to sell technology to other organizations in Israel. So, I'll oversee the construction and at the same time meet with local doctors and dentists to form relationships to get them to refer into our practice when it is open.

We perform a service known as Remote Managed Services. This support program allows us to monitor and maintain all the computing devices in the client's office. It allows us to ensure updates and patches are kept current and allows us to proactively effect repairs and adjustments before they cause components to fail and impact the productivity of the users. Since we don't want to impact the users, many times the work needs to be done when they are not in their offices. With our new office in Israel we will be 7 hours ahead of most of our clients and can work on their systems during daytime hours in Israel.

We offer our clients internet backup of their data. We load backup software on any machine that needs to be backed up and during the evening hours the backup occurs over the internet securing their data in our secure backup repository (currently in a bank vault). We have a second repository that is currently located in the same vault that we will relocate to the Israel facility to offer a higher level of data security for our clients by hosting their data on more than one continent.

We will supplement our call support capabilities by offering live answering of calls from both offices across the overlapping time zones. This means we will answer the phone from 2am to 5pm in the Eastern Time Zone and 9am to Midnight in Israel. We will be able to offer better support for both locations as if we were one.

There are some other leading technologies that we maintain expertise that we will include in our offerings as time permits. We get to them all but probably not on day one. They include voice technologies, security solutions, data center design, power solutions, cooling solutions and many others.

So, now you know... I won't be bored when I get there. I'll find some time to make friends and have a little fun too!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where to live

The most popular question I get when I tell people what I am doing is asking me where I'm going to live. Well I've always wanted to live on the beach, so that is where I plan to end up. A good rule of thumb however is to live somewhere for a little while before making a big decision, like where to live...

We are building our office in Modi'in so while it is being built, I'll live nearby for the first year or so. Then when I don't have to oversee the construction I can hopefully live on the beach. Searching online I like what I see in Ramat Poleg, but once there I'll see what it's like in person.'

Most people ask me where is Modi'in. It is about halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The train that will connect the two runs through the city and has a station there. It also goes to the airport so getting to the "big" cities is easy as well as access to air travel when needed. It is only 15-20 minutes to the cities and just a few minutes to the airport. Modi'in is a city barely 10 years old and already grown to about 125,000 and has been planned to grow to about 250,000.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kaitlin's Contribution

Well today was an interesting day. Kaitlin has been mostly uninvolved in my preparations. However, she decided that I need a makeover before I leave, so she plans to take me shopping for a "new look". So, I guess come spring, I'll see what she has in mind.... but, I still hold the veto.

The nexus known as Neve Daniel

I lived in Atlanta for many years after contacting Nefesh b'Nefesh, but they always sent e-mails about live seminars in New York and other cities other than Atlanta. I move to SC and guess what... they sent out an e-mail in the Fall of 2007 for a live seminar in Atlanta. So living only a little more than three hours away, I drove over. It was invigorating to be in a room full of people that were considering or had decided to make aliyah. Nefesh b'Nefesh sent a couple of people to lead the seminar, one of which was Laura Ben David. While not a focus of her presentation, it was brought to my attention that she had written a book, a journal of her journey to and beyond aliyah. I came home and ordered the book and it arrived just as my mother came to visit from California. She actually read it before I did. Upon reading the book I learned quite a bit about her journey and specifically that Laura and her family ended up in the small community near Jerusalem in Gush Etzion, Neve Daniel. First connection.

In February 2008 my shul had a guest speaker, Jeremy Gimpel, the head of the Center for Biblical Zionism. Besides enjoying the presentation and discussion, I was able to speak with Jeremy after the program. In the conversation, I asked him if he was from Jerusalem. He responded with "No, I live in a small town about 10 minutes away". Knowing this to be the case I asked if it was Neve Daniel. His head spun around and asked "How did you know?" I responded that it was the only one I knew... I asked if he knew Laura and he said "Know her, she did the review on my TV show". Second connection.

In June 2008 my uncle, Ivan Gottlieb, forwarded to me an e-mail from a friend, Josh Sussman, of my cousin. He had made aliyah four years ago. He is the son of my oldest daughter's pediatrician. In the e-mail was a link to his blog. I read all about his journey and aliyah and where he and his family ended up. Guess where.... Neve Daniel. I wrote to Josh and introduced myself and told him of my two connections to Neve Daniel and asked if he new Jeremy and Laura. His response was at this point I guess not surprising: "We are very friendly with Laura Ben David and her husband, Lawrence (I ride bikes and he is one of the 3 other guys I ride with weekly). As a matter of fact, they were over for lunch on Shavuot two days ago. We're also friendly with Jeremy and his wife." Third Connection.

I understand that Neve Daniel is a highly observant community, and as a conservative (masorti) jew, don't see this as where I would be best suited, even as my level of observance increases, my egalitarian views would probably stand in the way. I don't know why I have met so many people from one small community, but they are great people, with great stories. Maybe it's a sign to share my story.

A little history - Where this journey began...

I am going to take a step back, way before last Friday's initial post to lay out how I got to this point in my life with regards to aliyah.

I had for many years not even been into a synagogue. I was living in Utah and upon moving into my house the Mormon missionaries showed up at my door (surprise, surprise). They actually pushed me back into the synagogue. I met with the rabbi for several hours and at the end of the meeting I wondered why I had ever stopped practicing. I started going to shul. After a short stay in Utah I moved back east to Atlanta.

I started attending shul there (Congregation Beth Shalom), got involved with the Mosaic Outdoor Club of Georgia. I was on a hike when a friend of mine, whom I met in Mosaic, Gary Vogin tells me about this volunteer program that he went on, to volunteer in the Israeli Army. I thought this sounded really cool, stated doing a little research and a couple weeks later I was signed up.

The program, Sar-El, kept me informed of my coming trip and information in general. They also made the comment that 46% of people that come to Israel in their program eventually make aliyah. I laughed and said that wasn't going to be me. During the time I spent in Israel they kept reminding us of the statistic and again I laughed and said that was not going to be me. I got on the plane with many wonderful memories and said to myself "see it wasn't me". Little did I know, but about six months later (December 2002), I came to the realization of how much I missed Israel and knew in my heart that I belonged to Israel and Israel belonged to me.

I had been reading about this new organization, Nefesh b'Nefesh and their inaugural trip the summer just past. I read everything on their website, followed every link. I registered on their website and at the same time I talked with a child psychologist who told me that with two kids in middle school I needed to either leave almost immediately or wait until they graduated from high school. I knew the timing wasn't right for my newly teenaged children, not to mention their older sister. Thus, reality in check, I knew I had to wait until after high school. They would be finished in May/June 2009. Nefesh b'Nefesh took all my basic information, but basically said keep in touch and when it is a little closer then we can proceed.

Over the next several years I continued to read all that I could. I continued my Hebrew studies at the ulpan at the JCC. (I still have a ways to go, but I can order from a menu, go on a trip and furnish my home). I told many people of my plans and when asked when, they kind of snickered at the length of time (I'm sure thinking "yeah right" or "we'll see then").

I planned to stay in Atlanta until I left, but life is funny sometimes. I had kept in touch over the years with my first employer and friend, David Livingston. He originally was in the Jewelry retail and manufacturing business. I talked him into his first computer purchase in the mid 1980s and he was hooked. We became a beta site for 3Com and we had the first PC LAN in South Carolina. I stayed for several years but considered staying there was the end of my technology based career path. I moved on, but stayed in touch. I was in Columbia in the spring of 2007 and met David for lunch. He made the same comment that usually made when we were together: You should come back and join us. I replied as I had many times before "I like Atlanta and Jewish community there, why do I want to move back to Columbia". He said he'd give me a good job and a piece of the company. I then stated "That's nice but I'm still moving to Israel in two years", he paused and then responded, "OK, then we'll open an office there". I then had an answer to a question that had been asked of me many times: What are you going to do when you get there? So, July 2007 brought me back to Columbia.

My kids still graduate in May and June 2009. The international FJMC (Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs) convention will be held the first weekend of July 2009 and I felt that would be worth staying for before leaving. As the flight schedule is not out yet for 2009 for Nefesh b'Nefesh , I don't know when I'll be leaving, but they usually have a couple in July, so I figure that is when I'll start the next chapter of my life. Keep up with this blog and you'll know when I know...

I have great family and friends and that is the hard part of moving a third of the way around the world. Fortunately with the internet (voice, text and video) keeping in touch will not be so difficult, just a little harder to share a bagel and lox, schwarma, felafel... Hopefully you'll all come visit me in Israel, maybe even a few of you will come one day for good.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Blog Starting point... Sent in Paperwork

Even though I made the descision 6 years ago to make aliyah, I decided to wait until my kids graduated before making this change. I am less than a year away now and thus am able to open my tik aliyah (aliyah file) with the shaliach (representative for the State of Israel). I had my interview about two weeks ago and have been gathering the needed paperwork. I finished my gathering yesterday, went by the bank for a cashiers check and sent in the package today. It really felt like I am starting the actual process in sending something to someone. So, I begin my journey... I have been in contact with Nefesh b'Nefesh since 2002 and will be utilizing their services and traveling with them next July. They haven't announced the flight schedule for 2009 yet, so I don't know the exact date yet.