I see beauty

When I first moved to Israel, as when I first fell in love with my husband, everything was beautiful:

The early morning mountains which framed a glorious sky peppered with misshapen clouds.

The herds of cows that grazed by the side of the road in fields glistening with morning dew.

The herb garden I grew from seedlings and the lemon tree i tended in my front yard.

All instilled me daily with wonder.

But as with any new love, the extraordinary faded into the ordinary, and over the past two and a half years, I have slowly become a woman who no longer feels compelled to sigh as I drive on the beach road from the lower galilee where I live south to Tel Aviv.

I no longer breathe in deep and breathe out the question:

I live here?

I am able to see the waves crash on the shores of the Mediterranean without being overwhelmed with delight.

I am able to see a lone camel walking along the busy express highway without grinning.

Yes, i live here.

And with my acknowledgment comes a price. My vision shifts slightly.

But even in my nonchalance,

Even in my hurry to get home to my kids
To make dinner
To clean the dishes

i still stop for the cotton fields.

There’s something magical about blooming cotton.

I can’t explain it.

Is it the absurdity of seeing — there sprouting from a plant — a material I know only as a sensation against my skin?

Is it the contrast of the billowy white puffs against the dried out greenish gray stalks emerging from the ground?

I don’t know.

But I am always caught surprised by the cotton fields.

As if someone has transported me back

Somewhere else but now.

cotton

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

This is best use of social media for social good I’ve seen in a long time

#Litterati

 


 
And I'm playing in Israel.
I hope you join us.

If i was a lawmaker, but then again no…

Today’s Daily Prompt:

You have the power to enact a single law. What would it be?

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

I would make a law that allowed me to make three more laws.

Ha!

Don’t ever try to limit me to just one anything!

I will beat you

at your own game

every time.

But, in all seriousness, as much as I love laws — and I do, I’m one of those irritating rule followers — I have a hard time coming up with the laws I would enact first if given the opportunity.

I would certainly enact one law that would benefit mothers.

And enact another that would benefit the Earth.

Somehow both of the above laws would trickle down to benefiting children.

Not just today’s children, but tomorrow’s.

Because I think the Earth, mothers, and children are often the ones who suffer with a lack of laws in their favor.

I would enact a law, I think, that would allow one parent to choose to be at home to care for his or her children, if he or she chooses, for at least two years full-time, and then supplementary after that until the children leave home.

My new “Family Leave Law” would not emphasize the LEAVE, but the STAY.

It would make a case for staying.

So staying is something a parent could choose to do, as opposed to making a major financial sacrifice when choosing to leave a full-time job in order to care for children, which is the situation for most people.

My law would reward and support parents for choosing to take on the job of caring for, educating and nurturing their children before and after school, for which we now pay others to do in a daycare system or through paid childcare.

My law would use taxpayer’s money to offer the parent caring for the child financial benefits and significant tax breaks for the time spent caring for the child.

In many countries (not the U.S.) laws like this already exist in some form.  The existing law is not as supportive as my proposed law, per say, but it’s better than what exists right now in America under the Family  and Medical Leave Act which basically protects no one and supports nothing, but the employer.

Really.

It’s a joke.

If you have ever been pregnant, you know what I mean.

Unless you’re a teacher, a union member, or work for the state government — those guys, from what I hear, have it pretty good.

Of course, there are cases to be made for not doing this.

Israel is one such case.

People here have lots of babies.

For a long time.

I’m talking 6, 7, 10 children.

My new law could potentially create a financial hardship for the government.

Which then may lead to the government putting a cap on how many children they will subsidize.

Which then will lead to anti-government people getting all up in arms about government regulating what we can and cannot do; how many kids we can or cannot have.

Which would lead to a media frenzy.

Which would lead to an outcry. And then a backlash. And then, maybe a reversal of my law.

Which makes me really glad, for once, I’m not the one making laws.

It’s really not as easy as it appears, is it?

What law would you enact?