Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"There is a place for you here." *

Yom revi'i, 3 Cheshvan 5770.

We talk a lot about the need to re-invent yourself, in order for aliyah to be successful.

Certainly, there are people with great jobs in the States, to which they commute a few times a month.  That is one way to support one's life and family here in Israel.  And there are other people who land great jobs in their fields prior to making aliyah or once they get here.

But the vast majority of olim must "think outside the box."  For example, we have a friend named Ronda Israel who was a yeshiva administrator for six years.  When she made aliyah, she had to come up with another way to make a living.  The "Chocolate Dreams Company" was born.  (I have tasted this gourmet chocolate, and heartily recommend it!)  Ronda's attitude about making it in Israel inspired our thinking about financial survival after aliyah.

The Dearly Beloved has done many things in his life.  He worked in an auto manufacturing plant; he drove all over the East Coast making brochure deliveries.  He played college football and soccer, and even a little rugby.  He played guitar with several different kinds of bands over many years, sometimes for money, mostly for fun.  He spent 20 years in the US Army, leading men and dealing with "special" weapons.  (Don't you just love euphemism?  Like "friendly fire," special weapons are just as deadly as if we called them nuclear -- and just as nerve-rattling to be responsible for.)

And then he made aliyah.

We have a military pension, thank G-d and Avi's 20 years of service.  We are willing to live simply.  We satisfy ourselves with inexpensive entertainments.  We don't own a home or a car.  And none of the kids is planning on Columbia U or Harvard.  So we don't have to fly to America a few times a month, or spend hours and hours commuting to the city and working at a desk, to sustain our life here.  But we do need a bit of "odd-jobbing" to make ends more or less meet.

We found out rather accidentally that the Dearly Beloved is a remarkable guitar teacher.  Someone heard him playing at a kumsitz, and asked if he could teach guitar to her son.  He decided to give it a try.  And what has unfolded over the last several months has been a joy for me to watch.

My husband doesn't "do Hebrew."  He is not going to sit through hours of ulpan.  And yet, in order to teach some of his young students whose first language is not English, he has begun to teach himself some musical terms in Hebrew.

And because he is a gifted enough teacher to teach the student, rather than the curriculum, he has stretched beyond country and rock to teach himself various types of Jewish music, and even reggae and jazz!  Each of his students has a totally different and tailor-made instructor.  And he and they are having fun.

Let me share a secret with young marrieds everywhere:  one of the sweetest stages of marriage is yet to come.  Watching your spouse re-invent himself when the world expects him to go quietly into that good grandfather night is very cool.  It is eye-opening to see that your life's partner still has lots of life and learning in him.

And the wisdom to know when to rest.

  The Dearly Beloved pretends to take the news seriously.
* In 1991, we visited Rav Noah Weinberg, zt"l, and asked him for guidance about making a living in Israel.  This (the title of this post) is what he said to my husband; and now we know what he meant.  Everyone has to make his own place -- but it is here.
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