An Israel Story Only I Can Tell

The title of my blog references my aliyah.

Aliyah is the Hebrew word used when a Jew moves from somewhere outside Israel to Israel.  If you have been to a synagogue on Saturday, you might have heard the word also used to reference someone being called up to the Torah for a blessing. The word aliyah literally translates as elevation or ‘going up.’

My going up was from New Jersey.

Depending on how much of a Jersey fan you are, you might not have difficulty seeing how moving to Israel from New Jersey was ‘elevating.’ (I’m staying out of that debate.)

On the other hand, depending on how much of a fan of Israel you are, you might have a lot of difficulty understanding why my husband and I picked up our three young children and moved here. (I’m staying out of that debate, too.)

We’re not particularly religious. Nor are we ardent Zionists.

We are reasonably observant moderate Jews from New Jersey, emphasis on the word reasonable.

This — reasonableness  — is what Israel, and the world that talks about Israel, needs more of. So, you can say, we’re contributing to that cause.  When I blog from Israel, I hope to share stories that most people outside of Israel never hear. The stories of the people who live here: Our daily lives, minus the conflict, minus the politics, minus the fear.

I don’t blog often about what I do during the day when I’m not blogging. I’m the Chief Marketing Officer for an investment group that invests in and develops start-up companies.

A lot of new olim (immigrants) try to break into high tech when they move here because a) it’s a great marketplace for English speakers and b) Start-up Nation is where it’s at.

Not me, though.

That wasn’t my plan at all.

My plan was to move here, get adjusted, learn Hebrew, grow an organic garden, and write a few freelance articles for The Jerusalem Post.

However, a few months after landing here a job opened up at a nearby company and the job description basically described me. My husband encouraged me to apply for the job. I did. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 2 1/2 years all day, 5 days a week — helping grow start-up companies.

I never write about my job because it’s not what I think about when I am not working. I like to leave my work at work.

Mindfulness, and all.

But last night, something incredible happened that is still with me today.

Two companies who I’ve worked with — portfolio companies of my employer, The Trendlines Group — won awards for best start-ups of the year. Out of dozens that were eligible, the award was offered to three companies, and two of the companies were from our group.

That in and of itself is something to take pride in — companies who I’ve worked with are now award-winning companies. But my greater pride comes from the types of technologies the companies are developing. One, Sol Chip, has created a tiny chip that harvests energy from the sun in a way that’s going to change how we use electricity everywhere from offices to farms. The other, ApiFix, has revolutionized treatment for adolescent scoliosis. It’s literally going to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of young girls with severe curvature of the spine.

These are the kinds of companies Trendlines invests in — companies really poised to improve the human condition.

These are the kinds of ideas and technologies that come out of Israel.

Not just technologies that help you find your way from the bar to the post office.

waze

But technologies that will save your life some day. If not yours, than your child’s or your neighbor’s.

Technologies that will one day be used not just in Israel, but everywhere.

Even in countries that are anti-Israel.

This. Is. Quite. A. Story.

And so, I blog about it.

You see: The Israel story — and my story living here — is even more complex than you ever thought.

When I moved to Israel, I braced myself for potential backlash from friends who, for reasons of politics or ignorance, might see my move to Israel as a statement, or worse, as a mistake.

But that didn’t happen.

What did happen was a door opened.

I got to be a part of an Israel that people who live outside Israel hardly ever see.

And I got to be someone who shares that story.

So, thank you.

Thank you for reading.

And thank you for letting me be a reasonable voice in a very noisy, and complex world.

team at awards jm

Part of the Trendlines team with Chief Scientist Avi Hasson and Israel’s Technology Incubator Program Director Yossi Smoler, June 2013

ocs award

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19 thoughts on “An Israel Story Only I Can Tell

  1. Hi Jen,
    Thanks for posting this. I, too, unexpectedly fell into my position at Nefesh B’Nefesh, helping Olim from North America and England find jobs and make a life here for themselves. Funny thing is, like you, I expected the opposite. But unlike you, I assumed I’d get back into the world of high-tech and resume my Marcom career that I had dropped out of a few years ago when I left Israel for NY. Now that I’m here I feel honored that I have been given the opportunity to help people trying to settle and contribute to the country. If you know of any job opening for energetic and optimistic English speaking Olim, drop me a line!

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    • Hi Shara — thanks for reading and the work you do helping people find meaningful work here in Israel. If I hear of anything, I will definitely let you know! Jen

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  2. That is great that you have opened yourself up to this experience. I am sure that this was not an easy move, and that there have been second thoughts along the way. But it looks like things are going great and you are working for a company that is helping to make a difference. That is one of the main things that I am lacking right now. I just feel that I am continuing to feed the machine.

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  3. I thought this was a great perspective on your very interesting and rather brave, if I may say so, family history. But it is also heart warming to read about the success of the companies you work with, and your part in making that happen.

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    • Thanks for reading. I wonder if I am brave. It’s funny you say so. I will have to think about that more. In my mind, brave is my husband’s grandmother who literally built this country with her two hands after leaving all her family (I think in Poland?) because she loved Israel and believed in this State so so much. She was a lot more die-hard than me.

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  4. Bravo for the Article Jen, it´s a pleasure to read what you share and more important, read what I have not been able to put into words for the last 5 years I have been living in Israel with my wife and twins… I´m in the other side, the developer side, and Israel is an amazing sandbox for all my ideas which I can develop step by step… and a place I am really proud to live in. I adding my two cents to transform what my Spanish people think and at least some of them think twice before blaming Israel all the time.

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  5. Jen–of course I am going to HAVE to read a post that starts with more on the meaning of “aliyah!” Thank you for going to Israel…for sharing this story….for the important work you’re doing not only professionally but with your family as well. My husband read an article sometime in the last year that noted that a HUGE percentage of medical discoveries in 2011 (the most recent year tracked, apparently) came out of Israel. I think that says a lot about favor and blessing, don’t you? 🙂

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      • Seriously amazing! And after I wrote my post (and got into the shower…lots of lovely thinking time there) I remembered that there’s a great percentage of technological innovations originating in Israel. Yeah!

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  6. Proud of you as always, and touched by your words about my mother.
    Wishing you, Avi and my amazing grandchildren continued health, happiness and love in our very special Israel.

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  7. I enjoyed reading your blog. It resonated with me on many levels. My husband and our three school-aged children made Aliyah in August 2011. We’re having problems finding jobs in our field (IT, Telecommunications), but we’re not GIVING UP!

    You’re story is encouraging. I too started a blog a few months back, and it helps me to share my thoughts and stories with others. Continued good luck, and I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

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  8. Jen, every time I read something you have written, it resonates with me, and I think, “if she still lived in Jersey we would be fast friends…since I am a Jersey girl, too.” You are so smat and I’m so glad what you are doing is helping the world with important technologies. In a way, I’m working with an org (Mothers & More) that has the feel of a start-up even though it’s 25 years old. Which may be why I find it so fulfilling each step we take. Anyway, thanks for sharing this. Keep writing.
    Estelle

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  9. Jen…I love this perspective on Aliyah.. that it opened doors of a different kind for you; and in a way, makes the notion of Aliyah very relatable on a completely different level. Thank you for writing this!

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