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Transplanted Teaneck woman ‘in awe’ of being in Israel

 
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During 19 years in Teaneck, mother of four Zahava Englard raised awareness and funds for Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. In 2006, she and her family moved to one of those communities — Efrat in the Judean Hills, where they’d been building a house, on and off, for 12 years.

Englard’s frank, poignant, and often funny letters chronicling the ups and downs of the family’s first two years in Israel have been compiled in a book, “Settling for More: From Jersey to Judea” (Devora Publishing, $18.95).

Jewish Standard: You’d been dreaming of moving to Israel since you were 12. Instead, you came with 17-year-old and 14-year-old sons and a 10-year-old daughter; your oldest child chose to stay in New Jersey to finish college. Was there any advantage in making aliyah at this time in your lives?

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Zahava Englard: There are no advantages in going with teenage kids over younger kids — it’s more of a challenge for them socially and language-wise — but there is always an advantage to making aliyah over living in galut [exile]. I was very lucky, because they’re well-adjusted and understood the importance of aliyah; we were talking about it since they were born, so it wasn’t a foreign concept. Making aliyah with younger children is definitely easier. However, if you cannot go earlier, go later anyway. There were many nay-sayers advising us not to do it, and I’m so happy I didn’t listen to them.

J.S.: Your parents are described as somewhat unhappy with your move. How have you handled your relationship with them to minimize the impact of the distance?

Z.E.: I call a lot, and I fly in to see them during the summers. They don’t have a computer, so I can’t e-mail them, but in addition to calling, I write them letters. I have one brother in Israel and one brother who lives 15 minutes away from them, and he’s a good, doting son. But it hasn’t gotten any easier for them. My mother occasionally says something to make me feel guilty, and I’m very firm in insisting that I did the right thing — especially having been raised in a Zionist home — and I will not be put on a guilt trip. If, God forbid, they need me to come there, I will.

J.S.: Your husband Artie commutes weekly to his medical practice in New York. Do you recommend this sort of arrangement for other immigrants?

Z.E.: I would recommend it as a viable, if not ideal, alternative to finding employment here. Had we left Teaneck in our 20s or 30s, we would not be doing this. But as a doctor in a socialized system, it would be very hard for him to get a decent-paying job in Israel at his age without “connections.” Thank God we’re able to do it, and since he travels every week he’s not in any place long enough to get jet-lagged.

[Oldest daughter] Jordana feels she still has some close family connection, because her father is there half of the time. We’ve been flying her in about four times a year while she is in school, but once she graduates in May she won’t be able to come as often — especially since she just got married and will be working full time without having the advantage of school breaks.

J.S.: Was it difficult to be involved in long-distance wedding preparations?

Z.E.: It wasn’t easy, but we have wonderful in-laws who took control of all the planning and were very considerate, not making a move without talking to us first. I got Jordana’s gown in Israel — she came during spring and winter breaks for fittings — and I also got the invitations here.

J.S.: In your book, you describe experiences such as hearing Arabs shooting as part of their wedding celebrations right near your home, or struggling to make yourself understood in Hebrew. Were you concerned that you might discourage readers from considering aliyah?

Z.E.: I didn’t want to paint a rosy picture. Nothing in life is rosy and I wanted to be realistic so people would know what to expect. People never spoke about the little mundane things that feel big to an immigrant and so I purposely wanted to talk about those things so that people know you can have a successful aliyah even if you have an anxiety attack on your first visit to the supermarket.

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From left are Rommi, David, Artie, Nili, Zahava, and Jordana Englard.

When I describe [celebratory] shooting in the Arab town next door, it’s just one of those things you have to deal with, but it did not prevent me from moving to Efrat — and I wanted to make that point, that we should still make aliyah and not be afraid to live anywhere in our land. Similarly, I want people to have a realistic understanding that language doesn’t just come by osmosis, especially for adults. You have to make an effort. But that shouldn’t scare anyone either.

J.S.: What are your kids doing and how is their acclimation going?

Z.E.: David is finishing his first year in the army in an artillery unit. When he comes home for Shabbat or a few days off, he never goes back with a sad face. He is proud of what he’s doing and he believes in it. He’s adjusted so well. Being in the army, his Hebrew has greatly improved and he has Israeli friends.

Rommi is in his first year in Yeshivat Har Etzion, which is a hesder yeshiva [where students normally study three years and serve 18 months in the army] but he told them right away he wants to learn for one year and then serve the full three years in the army. He is hoping to get into an elite unit. Many of his American friends are here this year in Israel, and although he enjoys being with them, he sees the difference in their lives and appreciates the meaning in his.

Nili has little recollection of her life back in America. She doesn’t see herself as missing anything. When we went back for Jordana’a wedding, she was constantly looking at her watch and imagining what her friends were doing in Israel. She has a tutor — I think every American child [in Israel] should, no matter how brilliant they were in the States — and is doing beautifully.

J.S.: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment since moving to Israel?

Z.E.: Having done the entire aliyah process on my own. My husband wanted to be here, but he didn’t get involved in any of the packing or planning or bureaucratic matters. So I’m handling everything on my own, and sometimes I have to force myself to deal with situations from banking to getting the car serviced, all in Hebrew. It’s not easy, but if I can do it, anyone can. Of course, it’s also a big accomplishment to have published a book!

J.S.: If you could import one thing from North Jersey to Israel, what would it be?

Z.E.: [Laughs]. Two things come to mind. Even though there are similar stores here, I miss Bed, Bath & Beyond. I just really love that store and the way you could find anything under the sun. The second thing is the wonderful system of parking lots they have in New Jersey.

J.S.: Are you happy in Israel after all?

Z.E.: I’m so happy here. I’m living my dream. The first day was grueling, but I just picked myself up and after three months I got into a rhythm and it’s just great. Not a day goes by, after three and a half years, when I don’t bless the wonder of being in Israel. When I drive to Jerusalem and get stuck in traffic, it never bothers me because I’m stuck in Jerusalem. How cool is that? I’m in awe of being here.

 
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What did he know? When did he know it?

State Senate majority leader Loretta Weinberg discusses GWB scandal interim report

On Monday, the New Jersey state legislative committee investigating Bridgegate submitted an interim report.

Anyone expecting a final answer to the question of what did he know and when did he know it — or to be more specific, how much did Governor Chris Christie know about the closure of the three local lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, creating potentially lethal havoc in Fort Lee, and when did he learn that his aides had been responsible for it — would be disappointed.

Still, there are nuggets there about the scandal, lying ready for gleaning.

This is very much an interim report, Loretta Weinberg stressed. Ms. Weinberg, a Democrat, is the state Senate’s majority leader. She lives in Teaneck, and Fort Lee is in her district.

 

Pruzansky vs. Matanky

Rabbi’s Nazi analogy draws fire

The president of the Rabbinical Council of American, Rabbi Leonard Matanky, has weighed in on the ongoing dispute between Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck and Gary Rosenblatt of Teaneck, editor and publisher of New York’s Jewish Week.

“I am pained that I have to distance myself from a colleague, but the kind of language that Rabbi Pruzansky used is unacceptable and crosses the line of decency and discourse,” Rabbi Matanky is quoted in the Jewish Week as having written. (Rabbi Matanky lives in Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood — which is more or less the Teaneck of the Midwest — where he is rabbi of Congregations K.I.N.S. and dean of the Ida Crown Jewish Academy.)

 

Reality check

Author to discuss intergenerational ‘experiment’

Katie Hafner began her professional career writing for a small newspaper in Lake Tahoe.

That didn’t last for long, though. “I worked my way up,” said Ms. Hafner, who now writes on health care for the New York Times.

A seasoned journalist, Ms. Hafner was exceptionally well prepared to chronicle an experience in her own life that she calls both an “experiment in intergenerational living” and a “disaster.” Inviting her 77-year-old mother to live with her and her teenage daughter, Zoe, in San Francisco, Ms. Hafner learned that fairy-tale imaginings are no match for emotional truths.

(In her book, Ms. Hafner calls her mother Helen. That is not her real name; her mother requested anonymity, and Ms. Hafner honored the request.)

 

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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

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Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

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According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
 
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