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

Environment is not a dirty word (and being green doesn’t mean being perfect)

There’s a story I’ve shared quite a few times over the past six years since I became an accidental activist for holistic health and conscious living. The story goes like this: I used to roll my eyes at environmentalists. I … Continue reading

I’m really the farthest thing from a gardener

My photos on instagram paint a pretty picture.

broccoli 2013

The above broccoli and cabbage are part of the harvest from our backyard vegetable garden. We took advantage of the beautiful weather today (70 degrees and sunny) to weed and pull.

It’s the second season we planted; and the second season we’ve tasted vegetables we grew ourselves.

And, yes, our broccoli tasted delicious. And yes, it was exciting for us and for our children.

Truly.

And, while I am so proud of us; because even a backyard garden takes effort and intention and love, part of me judges me in a way I imagine some of my Facebook friends silently judge me:

Like:

“Oh how quaint. Look at us. We grow our own vegetables. Look at us. We teach our kids how to get their hands dirty.”

I can see how people might say that when they see my posts.

I can see it…because … um … sometimes I have thoughts like that about you.

Facebook tends to make you look like a braggart, a goodie two-shoes, a whiner, or an asshole.

But the people who really know me, know that I grow my own food as practice.

Practice being the perfect mom I’ll never be, but moreso practice being Caroline Ingalls … for the day when the grid goes.

My green lifestyle … the green gardener I play on TV?

It’s still practice.

Every day I am practicing how to be less dependent on stores, stuff, and things.

Less dependent on electricity; less dependent on gas.

Less dependent on the internet, too, though that proves to be a bit more challenging.

I’m just a formerly semi-spoiled Jersey girl looking for meaning and hope on a semi-vanishing planet.

If I can do it, so can you.

Start small.

Buy less. Recycle more. Eat less. Grow more. Take less. Share more. Drive less. Walk more.

Find five minutes to talk to your kids about the impact of trash.

Find five minutes to talk to your neighbor about the impact of pesticides.

Find five minutes to strategize with your partner about taking small steps that make a big difference.

Then actually take those steps. Do something. Anything.

And then write about it. Talk about it. Paint about. Blog about it. Scream and shout about it.

Pass it on.

Other people’s garbage

What I am about to say doesn’t apply to everyone.

It doesn’t apply to the immigrant family just arrived from Darfur.

It doesn’t apply to the disabled veteran living in a box on the corner.

But it DOES apply to anyone with enough money and sustenance to afford a computer, an IPhone, a tablet.

What I am about to say applies to those of us lucky enough to be in the middle or upper class.

What I am about to say applies to the family who pays 150 NIS to send their kid to basketball class, and another 500 NIS on the uniform.

What I am about to say applies to the family who owns a car, a three-bedroom home.

What I am about to say applies to the family who takes their kids on vacation to Eilat.

What I am about to say applies to some of my friends and neighbors.

What I am about to say is going to piss you off.

Your kid disgusts me.

Yes, your kid.

The 13-year-old who just threw a plastic cup under the bushes next to the preschool without thinking twice.

He disgusts me.

Sure, it’s only for a moment. A passing moment.

He’s only a kid after all.

Until it happens again.

Until the 6-year-old, the one who is in the same class as my son, rips the wrapper off his popsicle and drops it onto the street without worrying for a second about getting in trouble.

Disgust.

Again.

Today was not the first time I’ve seen a young person throw trash on the ground here in my community; here in Israel.

Today was not the first time I saw your kid throw trash on the ground as if the ground was going to take care of it.

As if the ground serves as his garbage can,

The same ground that braced your child’s fall when he was just learning to walk.

The same ground that nourishes the wildflowers you use as a beautiful background for family photos.

The same ground that you pay taxes to tend to.

Your kid just trashed that ground.

Now, you might think me harsh or judgmental.

You might think me smug.

You might spend the next two weeks watching my children like a hawk to see if they ever once throw trash on the ground.

They might.

And if they do, I hope that you will call to them, gently but not so gently scold them, insist they pick their garbage off the ground and place it in the proper receptacle.

Do what I didn’t just do.

Teach them.

I missed an opportunity. I let your kid walk away.

I let my ego get in the way — too afraid that I wouldn’t use the right words in Hebrew, I waited til he walked away and I picked up the cup myself.

And then I shook my head. At him. At you. At me.

It’s easy to make excuses.

My excuse is language.

My excuse is fear.

What is yours?

The truth is: There are no excuses for our children throwing garbage on the ground.

Not children who go to basketball, and play Wii, and own their own phones.

Not children who eat organic tomatoes or gluten-free pita.

Not children who are raised on hikes along the Jordan River; on a deep love for this land.

There are no excuses.

plastic on the ground

Is this the land we're fighting over?

Plastic bag dots the green