Im my best, happiest, most thriving self here in Israel – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on May 28, 2020

Marta Mozes learned to speak Hebrew fluently at the age of 10 through the sink-or-swim method. She and her parents were spending her fathers sabbatical year in Arad. This southern city is not the likeliest of places for a Conservative Jewish family from the Philadelphia suburbs. But as a Jewish theater professional, her mother was drawn to the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) Institutes Arad Arts Program, a subsidized residency for visual artists, musicians, writers, dancers and choreographers from around the world. Young Marta knew basic Hebrew from her Solomon Schechter day school, but that wasnt adequate. Nobody knew English in Arad, not the kids and not the adults. So at first it was the hardest thing in the world and a huge culture shock. But by the end of that fifth-grade year, I didnt want to leave, she says. She had tasted Israeli-style childhood freedom complete with bonfires in the desert and she knew this was where she wanted to live. Back in the US as a teenager, she was active in the Conservative Movements Zionist youth group, Young Judaea. During high school, she and her classmates spent a semester in the Alexander Muss High School in Israel Program.Those were the best six months of my life. I saw the entire country and it affirmed my love for Israel. Three of my best friends and I decided we wanted to return for a study-abroad semester in our junior year of college. And we did. I went to Tel Aviv University.In between, she spent summer vacations in Israel. One of her activities was volunteering in Philadelphias sister city, Netivot, during the 2006 Lebanon War. When she graduated from Temple University in May 2009, the employment situation in the United States was grim due to the financial crisis. She and one of the high school friends whod come to Israel together applied for six-month internships through Masa Israel Journey.I studied public relations at Temple, and I thought I wanted to work in the food industry, so I ended up with a pretty unconventional PR internship at Dancing Camel Brewery in Tel Aviv, she relates with a laugh. The best part wasnt the internship itself; it was having a great landing pad for starting my life as an adult in Israel.She recommends a Masa internship to anyone contemplating aliyah. I have a handful of friends I made that year in the program and were all still here and all still friends, she says.Mozes officially made aliyah in September 2009. Her dad has since followed and lives in Nahariya.She found her niche in Tel Aviv, working first in the start-up world and for the past four years as marketing manager at Google for Startups. She is passionate about her work there.As a Zionist who believes in the strength that is Israel and the Start-Up Nation, I feel that working for Google is a great way for me to help the economy grow and to nurture innovation. At the Google for Startups Campus, we work with very early-stage start-ups at the make-or-break moment and we try to make sure they succeed.Mozes considers Tel Aviv the best city in the world for its top-notch culture, cuisine and climate, as well as its walkability and safety.At Google, we always host colleagues from abroad and its my favorite thing to guide them around Tel Aviv. Everybody falls in love with it and that gives me a lot of pride.Like expats anywhere, she gravitates to friends who are mainly from a similar English-speaking background. When you move abroad, people from your home country are your family, she points out. I had my initial girl group and were still strong to this day, but I branched out and actively expanded my social network when a few of my friends went back.However, her boyfriend is Israeli. And thats not unusual in her circles.All my friends have Israeli partners. When we get together, the guys speak Hebrew and the women speak English, even though the majority of my friends speak Hebrew well, she says.From what she has observed, Mozes believes Hebrew literacy is critical to a successful aliyah. I think a very critical and helpful part of being able to truly integrate into society here, and live a fulfilling full life, is being able to speak Hebrew. And its even easier if you have some sort of family roots here as well.She also believes a successful aliyah requires the right mindset. Come to Israel because you love it, or its not going to work. You have to really want to be here to survive here, says Mozes, noting bureaucratic idiosyncrasies like the puzzling reliance on fax machines in the same country that invented the Iron Dome.Another aspect of acculturation that has been challenging for her is the lack of gray areas, whether in politics, culture or religion. Theres a real issue in Israel with black and white youre either Left or Right, secular or religious. I miss the center. Im sort of in the gray on a lot of things. The grayness of America is missing. But on the other hand, my mom always tells me shes glad Im not in university now because antisemitism and anti-Zionism on campuses is very scary. In general, the growing amount of antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment is growing in the world. So Ill take the Israeli black and white over that. Mozes, a yoga enthusiast, says she admires how Israelis live life to the fullest and enthusiastically embrace community and family values. Here, I feel like an insider. In America, I was the outsider, even though I lived in a very Jewish community. I like saying Shabbat shalom when I grocery shop on Friday, and I love that when youre at a bar on Hanukkah they stop everything and light the hanukkiah. Im my best, happiest, most thriving self here.

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Im my best, happiest, most thriving self here in Israel - The Jerusalem Post

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