Dr. Lynn M. Rothstein
By Ayelet Rothstein



I believe that the idea of the I-Faces project is to find someone who you think best shows the “face of Israel”. I decided that I would first have to figure out what Israel means to me and what exactly the “face of Israel” is. I came to an understanding that the “face of Israel” can really be anybody who makes Israel what she is today.

I chose my mother, Dr. Lynn M Rothstein. Although she may not be an Israeli whose parents and great-grandparents were born here, she is someone who describes her love for Israel by moving to Israel (making Aliyah). Even before she moved to Israel my mother cared about the country and the culture. My mother's love for Israel was inspired by my great-grandmother Miriam Weller, who was not able to get to Israel herself but, passed on her love for Israel to her children and grand-children in hope that they would fullfill her dream of making Aliyah.

The idea to interview my mother came to me when I realized that most people would consider a famous leader in Israel to be the face of Israel such as, the Prime Minister, a famous singer, or someone whose family has lived here for many generations. I
picked my mother because her views, and influence on Israel and the culture in Israel will be very different from someone who has lived here all his or her life.


I was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 1,1964. I was the third and last child my parents Bernice and Murray Ross had. I have two older sisters: the eldest Sandy and the second Abbie. Throughout my entire school career I attended the Yeshiva of Flatbush lower school and then graduated from the high school, it is a very zionistic school. During that time my father worked as a dentist. On the other hand my mother had been a secretary and then was a stay-at-home mom, and generally enjoyed volunteer work. I remember on one of my early trips to Israel my family was invited to meet Menachem Begin in his home. I also can vividly remember snorkeling at the coral island which is now a part of Egypt and seeing the amazingly colorful coral and fish.

After graduating high school I went to
Israel for the summer to work on kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, which is in near Beit Shan. I got up at 4AMto grab a cup of coffee before heading out by tractor to work in the cotton fields before the sun got too hot. I truly felt like a real Israeli and connected to the land.

I attended
Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts from 1982-1986, and majored in psychology. I then pursued my doctorate in psychology at the Ferkauf University Graduate School of Psychology which is part of Yeshiva University
from 1986-1991. I was the youngest graduate in my class. It was a five year program which I managed to complete in 4 ½ years. I married Neil in 1989, a medical student who was pursing a MD and PhD degree. We met while studying in the school library which was shared by both the medical school and psychology school. The year of my graduation 1991, my father and father in law both died, two weeks apart from each other. Once I got up from sitting Shiva for my father I immediately kept my husband company as he sat Shiva for his father. It was a very difficult time. I did not attend my graduation ceremony.

My husband’s medical training resulted in our moving from state to state for each phase of his training. At the time it seemed very stressful moving about so much. I lived in
Connecticut, New York, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey and now Israel. Looking back on it, the moves really enabled us to see parts of the United States we may never have visited, and it enabled us to make friends in so many different states. Rekindling relationships with many of those friends who ultimately moved to Israel
is a really cool experience.

All the moves in my life have been difficult, or that is how I referred to them but the move to
was clearly the most challenging. It required more work than all the other moves put together. For instance, looking for a house to rent or buy in another state is certainly hard but, not nearly as hard and building a house in a different country. Packing up ones' belongings is annoying when moving to another state but to another country, which means buying all new appliances with different electrical currents and trying to envision what we would need in a different culture and what we should or should not take with us was very difficult. Paying for shipping containers and sending things by boat was all a real experience, especially because we made the decision to move to Israel during the Lebanon war when the Haifa ports were shut down due to a state of war, not allowing many of the shipping boats to dock a the Haifa port. We were instructed by the shipping companies that they could make no guarantee when our belongings would actually arrive. The uncertainty of it all was very difficult as I generally like to feel like I am in control of the decisions and choices I make, and in this case I felt very “out of control” and vulnerable.

Lastly, I can remember the flight very clearly; first of all we almost missed it. My husband and I rented a U-haul truck to transport all of our 16 suitcases to the airport. My sister Abbie transported our 6 children to the airport in her van. We were supposed to meet at the terminal and then board the plane with the kids. I forgot that the
Belt Parkway in New York
does not allow trucks on the parkway; we were driving a U-Haul, a truck. As a result at one point we could no longer follow Abbie’s van and we separated ways. We were unsure of an alternate route to the airport which delayed our arrival to the terminal by at least an hour. The Nefesh B’Nefesh representatives who were coordinating the flight informed us that everyone had already boarded the plane and inquired as to whether we were really planning on arriving for the flight. When we finally arrived at the terminal we were rushed to the plane, causing us to make our goodbyes to my mother and sister very short. We were seated next to the kitchen. The family behind us was still debating whether or not they wanted to make aliyah. The food was typical El-Al food. There were some crying babies, but other than that all was peaceful.

We landed in
Israel on August 16 2006. I experienced mixed emotions, a sense of thrill that we had finally arrived after all our planning and a sense of dread for the challenges that lay ahead. As the entire family exited the plane we heard the sounds of shofarim (horns), and we were suddenly surrounded by reporters. The day we landed was a historical day for Nefesh B’Nefesh as three planes filled with new olim (immigrants) landed simultaneously, one from the USA, one from England and the last one from Canada. After walking through two rows of soldiers who saluted us on our bravery for deciding to make aliyah we were led to an area where we met our Israeli cousins who welcomed us with hugs and kisses. We were then seated to listen to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert welcome us and the I.D.F choir sing. After this welcoming ceremony, we were directed to the old El-Al terminal and sat together with the Canadians and Brits waiting for our turn to fill out the paper work which would allow us legal entry into Israel
. Meanwhile the kids sat together with their goody bags and watched the magician, all courtesy of Nefesh B'Nefesh. That all took about three hours.

We finally packed all our bags, boxes and suitcases into the free taxies, courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh. We arrived at my sister
Sandy’s house where I found out that our house would not be ready until school started for the kids approximately three weeks from the date we arrived.

I took the delay in stride as my sister Sandy really made us feel so welcome. We decided to take the children to see the unfinished house so that they would have a visual image of where we would ultimately be living. I think it was all a bit confusing and overwhelming for everyone. In the beginning it felt like a new adventure or an extended vacation, but once we moved into the house and prepared for the start of a new school year in a new country with a new language the reality of the situation began to set in. The children were afraid that they would have no friends and I was worried as to how I would keep them calm and get them through the adjustment period successfully.

Here begins the story of our acclimation to Israeli culture. It was hard there are just so many differences between
Israel and America
, and one can not just translate American idioms into Hebrew. The year started on a high, we were all optimistic.
After about six months the entire family hit an all-time low as the reality of our decision set in. We had to accept that we missed our family and friends back home and were not really sure when or if we would ever see them again. We had to adapt to a smaller size house with a significantly smaller yard area to play outside. We had to adjust to the difficulty and frustration in being unable to communicate effectively with Israeli neighbors and not understanding any of the mail we received in Hebrew from schools, state offices, banks etc. Finally this year we have reached a reasonable level of comfort. Reaching this point not only took effort on the kid’s part but also on my part. We all had to convince ourselves that there was no turning back, and that Hebrew was a language we had to master in order to move ahead and not constantly look back with self doubt. Another big adjustment was mastering the money system in
Israel. The first year we all referred to the Israeli currency as “funny money”. This year we accept that this is our only means of buying the things we need.

Converting shekels to dollars in our heads was not the easiest, for instance when my daughter went to the mall she was shocked to find that the shirt her friends thought was cheap was actually fifty dollars. It had really been fifty shekels. My teenage daughter who was eager to acclimate and create a new social network for herself found that having a short and simple conversation took a lot of effort. However, she discovered, as did I, that once the Israelis realized we were really trying to speak Hebrew they started to be friendlier and help us finish our own sentences.

I am truly thankful for all the help we received from friends and family. I am grateful that we had family in
Israel and that we did not make aliyah alone. I also appreciate more than ever the contribution my own parents made to me by paying thousands of dollars each year for me to receive a wonderful education in the USA which included a focus on conversational Hebrew language. Having a strong Hebrew language base before arriving in Israel was the one of the biggest assets I could have ever dreamed of in making our adjustment go that much smoother.

To all the families who probably felt the same way or who are planning to make aliyah, I recommend having trust in Hashem that somehow if it is meant to be it will work out. Returning to the land promised to us by Hashem, the land we read about in our torah and prayer books is a feeling of truly returning to our roots, our past, our history and to our real home.

Background Research:

Ohel Leah synagogue, Hong Kong.

My mother Dr. Lynn M. Rothstein decided not only to vacation in Israel but also in Hong Kong, China. She found the Jewish community and history fascinating, so I decided to research the Jewish community in Hong Kong. Today the Jewish Hong Kong community is large with almost four thousand congregants and four synagogues. This article will not only include the facts that were found on the internet but also my mother’s vivid memories.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Jewish presence began way before the actual community was established. In the beginning many Jews had been in Hong Kong for their jobs, most were merchants. When Hong Kong became a British Colony in 1842; that was when the Jewish community arrived. The Sassoon and Kadoorie families, two Sephardic families who ran the mercantile empire throughout Asia, were the founding Jewish Hong Kong families. They moved their businesses to Hong Kong and hired mostly Jewish employees to encourage Jewish immigration to Hong Kong, most of those employees were also of Sephardic descent from Baghdad, Iraq. Finally fifteen years later in 1857, the Jewish community was officially established.

The Jewish Virtual Library:

The first synagogue called Ohel Leah was built by Sir. Jacob Sassoon and was opened in 1901. On the other hand the Kadoorie family built the Jewish Club. During the years before World War II the Jewish population rapidly grew. During the war the Japanese came and ransacked the Jewish Club, which was rebuilt in 1949 after the war. Thankfully Ohel Leah survived the war by being disguised as a warehouse.

Today there are four synagogues and a Jewish Community Center (JCC) replacing the Jewish Club that was built in 1995 next to the newly refurbished and restored Ohel Leah synagogue. The synagogue was restored in 1998 and has five Torah’s. The new JCC has a library, kosher restaurant and recreational facilities. There are also two Je wish schools the Carmel elementary school and the Ezekiel Abraham high school. As of today the community has about 4,000 congregants and has not experienced any Anti-Semitism even after the British Colony was transferred to Chinese rule.

According to the Chabad of Hong Kong, the Chabad movement of Hong Kong started in the year 1987 when Rabbi Mordechai came to Hong Kong. After his arrival he was successfully able to create minyanim (a group of ten men praying together) and kashrut services (kosher food) within the community, and later created a preschool which grew into an elementary school.

The Chabad of Hong Kong:

My mother does not remember anything from Hong Kong as much as her Shabbat in Ohel Leah. There she remembers that no matter the amount of people, everyone in the synagogue would eat together lunch and then socialize until the end of the Shabbat. She was felt that there had been a strong feeling of community that she would never forget.
As much as it seems as if this article has no connection to Israel, it does. My mother always enjoyed when people got together and socialized together, feeling a sense of community. In Israel people are so nice and are always willing to talk or help a friend, and that gives you a sense of belonging, that everyone longs to feel.

Literary Connection:

The following article was written by my great-grandmother Miriam Levine, the same great grandmother that influenced my mother's aliyah. Miriam immigrated through Ellis Island by herself from Poland-Russia. She then lied about her age in order to get a job. To me, that shows a profound amount of strength.

Israel was very important to her, and she had always hoped that she would make it there one day. In New York she started to feel accepted when she joined a Zionist youth group, called (in translation) Children of a Living Nation. This group raised money for the army and tried to obtain good publicity for Israel. Their members spoke only Hebrew to one another, and tried to enlighten themselves with Israeli literature and songs.

Although she never was able to immigrate to Israel, Miriam's heart was always facing east, towards Jerusalem. When I think of all the things she did to help her country, I am reminded that one can not take Israel for granted, and that we must support our home regardless of where we are. Whether we are in Israel or America we are together in a united goal to save and preserve our home land and sanctuary, Israel.

In order to get to our goal we need more people like the youth group Children of a Living Nation and more people like Miriam Levine.

B'nei Am Chai
The children of a Living Nation-Israel
By Miriam Levine-Weller
Translated from Hebrew by: Ayelet Rothstein

"The children of a living nation-Israel" is the first of its kind of organization in New York. This organization was formed by the Jews of New York who believed that part of being Jewish is being Zionistic. They decided that they would represent the Hebrew speaking people by speaking Hebrew and being Zionistic. Not only is this organization pro Israel and Zionistic, but also they actively help their homeland from afar.

For instance they often tried to sell shekels in the U.S., raise money for poor Zionists, and Israeli soldiers who were injured in war. They also tried to only speak Hebrew to each other and to collect and read and sing the latest Hebrew literature and Israeli songs. In addition to that they tried make their own Hebrew newspapers and books.

The organization often tried to make reports in favor of Israel and in general good publicity for Israel, Zionism, and the Hebrew language.

After two and a half years the group succeeded in building a library with many Hebrew literature books and poetry. The members of the group worked tirelessly to gather enough books for the library. This has created good publicity.

On Friday evenings is when the group meets together, they sing song and read books, socialize and try hard to speak only Hebrew to one another. They also often have a class given by one of the members who has learned something interesting that week about Israel or about that week Torah portion.

The rooms in which they meet are almost always filled, and you can feel the connection to the other members and Israel, you like you belong somewhere. The usual meetings are on Saturday night.

My interpretation:

This article talks about the Zionists of New York trying to bring there own Israel to American and to support Israel from afar. It seems as if many of these people in the organization had every intention of moving to Israel but were unfortunately unable to move there.

The main point of the article is to explain how to help Israel, and in what ways Miriam Levine-Weller and her group went about doing that. For instance Miriam's youth group tried to raise money for Israel and her protectors, and taught themselves Hebrew in order to have the ability to read and write literature in Hebrew, that they wrote or that was brought to America from Israel.

I can connect to this article because firstly, it was written by my family, my great grandmother Miriam Levine, also for who I am named. Secondly, I can connect with her love of Israel even from far way and the want to move but the inability to actually move. For instance, I always felt a sense of connection to Israel after participating in the Israeli Day Parade, in New York every year. You feel as if you have really help, whether it is raising money or supporting the solider, or even just raising the moral in Israel.

This article in my opinion is almost like an advertisement for the Bnei Am Chai, It talks more about the group than the article does about the writer herself and her experiences.

The article was written in the point of view of the writer. When I first read the article I was very impressed with the Hebrew writing skill. One can only imagine just how much effort was put into the article by its writer, who happened to have made aliyah from Poland-Russia, learned English and Hebrew. I am only inspired to love Israel even more because from this article I realize just how much we want and need this country.

The article that is shown below was translated from a book of articles and short stories written by the various members of the many b ranches of Zionistic groups.

Creative Connection:

I am new immigrant (olah) to Israel therefore I decided that it would only be appropriate to do my creative project about the many immigrations (aliyiot) to Israel. I chose this topic because I can feel a connection to these people who left their homes in order to have a better life in Israel or simply because they wanted to live in the holy land of their forefathers.
Aliyah is the word used when someone immigrates to Israel, and in Hebrew literally means moving up.
What you are seeing is an Israeli flag. The background of the flag is a mirror and the flag has been covered by pictures of flags from countries where Jews have made aliyah. I chose to use a mirror background in stead of a white background because when you look at the flag you see yourself someone who makes Israel who she is today. Where the two blue lines used to be there are now pictures of the many people who have made aliyah, most photos are of the new olim (immigrants) coming off the plane. In the middle there is still a blue star because I felt that the Star of David is universally known as a symbol of Judiasm and Israel, therefore I felt it necessary to leave it in its rightful place.

Operation “Magic Carpet”:
According to Wikipedia, this operation was carried out between June 1949 and September 1950. Operation “Magic Carpet” is a well known nickname for Operation on Wings of Eagles or Operation Messiah’s Coming, which brought about 49,000 Yemenite Jews to Israel. British and American planes were used to transport the Yemenites from Aden, to Israel. The operation was extremely secret and was no made public until many months after its completion.

After the Jewish State of Israel was created many Muslim Yemenites attacked the Jewish people, destroying their homes and businesses. In response to the Muslim an ti-Semitism the Jews started gathering at Camp Geula (camp redemption) in Aden, Yemen, in hope that they would soon immigrate to Israel. However the aliyah was delayed until the hostilities in Palestine died down. By that time in the year 1949 there was already 10,000 people who joined Camp Geula, and the approval to leave Yemen was given. After the operation only about 300 wealthy Yemenite Jews remained.

Most of the people had never seen an air plane before and had to be coaxed on to the plane by saying that this was not a plane but really the wings of and eagle. In Exodus 19:4 it is written that G-D took the people of Israel out of Egypt on eagle’s wings, thus the name Operation on Wings of Eagles.

Operation Ezra and Nehemiah:
According to Wikipedia, this operation essentially took place between 1950 and 1952 and accomplished the aliyah of about 120,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel via Iran and Cyprus. At the end of this operation only 2,000 Jews remained in Iraq and today there are only 100 Jews left in Baghdad, Iraq.

This operation is called Ezra and Nehemiah, because they are the people who took the Jews back to Israel from their exile in Babylonia.

The need for Iraqi Jews to immigrate to Israel happened after the violent pogrom in Baghdad, following the end on the pro-Nazi regime, 180 Jews were killed in this attack.
Thanks to the “Halutz Movement” started by Shlomo Hillel who later became a minister in the Israeli government, 130,000 Jewish Zionists and activists moved to Israel. In order for the Jews to leave the Iraqi government passed a special bill permiting the Jews to leave Iraq only after they sold all their property, in lieu of this bill many Jews sold their large properties for small sums in order not to miss the opportunity to make Aliyah.
The Iraqi government had not expected more than 8,000 Jews to sign up to leave but in the end about 90,000 signed up. This led the government to fear that if the Jews left than all the major instututions run by the Jews would collapse.

The first planes flew via Cyprus on May 1951 to Israel and later there was a giant airlift from Baghdad to Isarel in 1952. After these two sets of planes there were only 6,000 Jews left in Iraq. “Most of the 2,800-year-old Jewish community immigrated to Israel. Today less than 100 Jews remain, all elderly and living in Baghdad."

Operation Moses:
According to Wikipedia, Operation Moses named for the biblical figure Moses was the official secret removal of Ethiopian Jews known as “Beta Israel” from Sudan during a famine in 1984. The operation was carried out by the IDF (Israel Defense Force).
The operation Began when many Jews walked from Ethiopia to Sudanese refugee camps because of an upcoming famine and because of the Zionistic activist Frada Aklom who persuaded people to move to Israel, an estimated 4,000 Beta Israel died from the trek. Sudan secretly allowed Israel to evacuate the refugees to Israel; about 8,000 Jews were airlifted to Israel on November 21st, 1984. Some sources also claim that as many as 18,000 Jews were evacuated.

Once the media found out Arab countries persuaded Sudan to stop the evacuation and the previous President was dismissed, because of this about 1,000 Jews were left behind. Until the operation was completed many children were left parentless because of the stop in the evacuation.

Even through the Beta Israel community is Jewish the chief rabbinate demande that all immmigrants pass “severity conversion” before Israel could consider them Jews. The ceremony included a submersion in holy waters (Mikvah) and the performinh of the Brit Milah. The Beta Israel community was furious because they had succeeded in keeping their religion through persecutions and threats for hundreds of years. They were insulted and in the end it was decided that the chief rabbinate would only demand submersion in the Mikvah.

Operation Solomon:
According to Wikipedia, In 1991 the ruler ship of Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia was about to fall because of the rebel forces coming to take over the capital Addis Ababa. Several days before the capital was captured Mengistu escaped from Ethio pia to Zimbabwe. After that an agreement was made between the officials in Mengistu’s government and Israel, allowing the Ethiopian Jews to immigrate to Israel in exchange for 35 million dollars, and shelter in the United States for several of the officials in his government.

Operation Solomon took place because of this agreement, 14,400 Jews were brought to Israel within 34 hours on May 24th, 1991 in about 30 airplanes belonging to the Israeli Air Force and El Al.


Now that I am finished writing my I Faces project, I have started to think about some of my original expectations or messages that I wanted to bring across to the readers, and how they have changed. When our class first began the process of creating the I-Faces project I had great expectations for my self, that my writing would shock or strongly influence the readers, about Israel. By choosing to base this project on my mother I was hoping to learn more about her and her life. I now realize that many of my personal expectations were not met but, on the other hand I have forged a new connection with mother and her life. I am proud of my mother and her choices. Although there are many parts of my project that I am very proud of, where I thought that I had successfully brought across my message with clear and interesting writing, there are some parts where I felt that I was only writing, because I was required to not because I thought it added to my interviewee's character. If I were to change this project I would probably add more writing about my mother's thoughts as she started the process of aliya, instead of writing about somewhere she had been in her life, like China, which does not interest me nearly as much, and has less of a connection to Israel.

As I wrote, I realized I was learning about Israel. Not so much about the land herself but more about how the people of the world view Israel, such as my mother. I started to understand what it is exactly that draws us to this country. For instance my mother explained to me that she loved how the bible seemed to come alive here. Throughout the project I think I created a bond between myself and my homeland, which I didn’t have before.

My favorite part of the project was writing the profile, which was the one part of the project that I found especially meaningful. Writing that piece I learned more about mother, her thinking process, and her connection to the land than I did in any other part of the I Faces project. After finally understanding her, I tried to put all my thoughts and my mother's thoughts together in creating an interesting profile that I believe that many olim could relate to.

At the end of the day, I would have to say that I learned things that I didn’t really expect to learn about or find interesting in the least bit. For instance the literary connection and the creative connection really added to my project I think, in a more creative way. In the literary connection I learned a little more about my great-grandmother, whom I have never met, and what she did for Israel through out her life. The creative connection is where I think I learned the most, I had intended to learn more about the various aliyot to Israel, and I certainly did, and not only did I learn I also found the information very interesting. I would like to thank my English teacher for making us do this project because if I had not done it I would not have created this new bond with Israel and my mother.


About Chabad of Hong Kong, Chabad of Hong Kng. 17 Jan 2008[[http://www.chabadhongkong.org/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/266951/jewish/About-Chabad-of-Hong-Kong.htm%3C/span%3E%3Cspan|http://www.chabadhongkong.org/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/266951/jewish/About-Chabad-of-Hong-Kong.htm<span]] style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; mso-font-kerning: 18.0pt">

Aliyah from Ethiopia." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 31 Jan 2008, 20:17 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 23 Feb 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Aliyah_from_Ethiopia&oldid=188220377>.

Braun, Elihai. The Virtual History Tour, Hong Kong, Jewish Virtual Library. 17 Jan 2008

"History of the Jews in Hong Kong." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 12 Sep 2007, 02:11 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 17 Feb 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=History_of_the_Jews_in_Hong_Kong&oldid=157290166>.

. New York, 1918לוח אחיעבר, בני עם חי .Levine, Miriam

"Operation Ezra and Nehemiah." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 26 Jan 2008, 04:33 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 23 Feb 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Operation_Ezra_and_Nehemiah&oldid=186966495>.

"Operation Magic Carpet (Yemen)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 9 Feb 2008, 01:53 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 23 Feb 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Operation_Magic_Carpet_%28Yemen%29&oldid=190089942>.

Rothstein , Dr. Lynn M., Neuro-Psychologist. Interview. Efrat. 26 December 2007.


**www.lcsd.gov.hk/.../ trails_sheungwan2.php?tid=6**



- mother
- caring
- zionist/ loves Israel
- likes to hike
- motivated

Interview Question and Interview:

1. Why did you move to Israel and who or what originally gave you the idea to move here?
In America we sent our children to very expensive Jewish day schools to learn Hebrew and to gain a sense of connection to their Jewish identity and holy land, Israel. I felt very hypocritical to have them spend day after day being indoctrinated with themes of Zionism only to remain in America. The idea of moving to Israel came from my grandmother who always dreamed of one day coming to Israel, although she did not succeed. Many of my closer friends who I really felt I could relate to moved to Israel, so it seemed like a place with like minded people. A part of me believed that Israel was created because of the horrors of the Holocaust, I feel a certain allegiance to those who died by living here.

2. I did some research about my great-grandmother Miriam Weller and found that she was very zionistic, did she in any way influence your love for Israel?
My grandmother Miriam left Poland-Russia when she was an early teen came by boat through Ellis Island to America. Once she arrived she a joined a group of Jewish Zionistic youth who only spoke Hebrew at get togethers, wrote and learned Hebrew songs and dreamed of moving to Israel. Many of her aunts, uncles and cousins were killed in the Holocaust and she viewed Israel as the future of the Jewish people.

3. You are a neurophsychologist, please explain to me what prompted you to become a neurophsychologist?
A psychologist is a professional who tries to understand the nature of people, how they think, and the way they feel. A neuropsychologist looks at the connection between the mind and body and how that influences the way people think and feel on a day to day basis. A neuropsychologist works with people who have suffered an injury to their brain, which affects the way they function. The range of impairment extends from a learning disability to a traumatic brain injury and also includes developmental disabilities which limit cognitive functioning.
Growing up I spent many family gatherings with my cousin Yoni. Yoni an only child who was my age was diagnosed with autism between ages 3 to 4 years old. As I got older, I began to understand that he was very different than me. And I had a certain desire to try to fix him. My aunt and uncle used to always comment on how nicely I was able to engage him in activities. That just reinforced my desire to try to find a way to make him normal. I dreamed of growing up and one day starting a school for autistic children. When I began university, I majored in psychology and did a practicum at the league school in Boston, a school for autistic children. My role was to assist the classroom teacher in teaching a group 8-9 year old autistic children reading, math and social skills. I discovered that I did not have enough patience to teach these cognitively impaired children academics. In fact, I had to leave the room every 20 minutes to walk to keep from becoming overly frustrated by their inability to learn. On the positive side, I discovered that I could connect to these children on an interpersonal and social level in a way no other staff members could. Specifically, there was a 9 year old boy Chris who rarely made eye contact or spoke. I succeeded in connecting with him and getting him to talk. It was heartbreaking when at the end of the year my assignment was over. I felt that I was abandoning him. I committed myself to work with other children with neurological deficits in the future.

4. Where is your favorite place in Israel and why is it your favorite place to be?
When I was in Israel on kibbutz the summer after I graduated from high school I spent a day relaxing in a beautiful area called Sachna near Beit Shan. It has pools of water surrounded by waterfalls and forest like trees. It seemed to me like an enchanted island. When I returned to Israel years later and revisited that memorable sight I was so disappointed because it had become so commercialized, and lost its special beauty.

5. After a year and a half in Israel to do you feel accepted by the Israelis?
I feel able to communicate effectively but I find there is a cultural difference between us which creates a distance between us that is too difficult to overcome.

6. How did you prepare yourself for the big move to Israel?
We decided 5 years prior to our Aliyah right after Neil completed his medical training. We committed to spend 5 years to save money for the big move. This was a difficult decision. Neil had spent 14 years after college to his medical training and research during which time we were not making any money. Yet we had already started a family and dreamed of the big move in 5 years. We had 5 years to generate money and prepare our children for the move. We signed up our 2 oldest children for an ulpan in Baltimore, MD to improve their Hebrew language skills. As the time grew closer we made a pilot trip to Israel to check out different neighborhoods and schools in search of an environment that welcome and support us. We limited ourselves to 3 locations: Chashmonaim, Maaleh Adumim and Gush Etzion/Efrat. We brought our children to the 3 neighborhoods to spend a day in school. We listened to their input and luckily we had a unanimous consensus for Efrat. Efrat was appealing to us since Neil had learned in the Gush and the Gush schools had an excellent reputation.

7. What are some of the challenges that you had to overcome before and after your aliyah?
Before aliyah there was a lot of self-doubting. The war had broken out in Lebanon and the Haifa port was closed. Any big move or change raises one’s anxiety and creates self doubt, but to consider moving in a time of war seemed ludicrous. Emotionally, leaving family and friends with the uncertainty of if or when I would ever see them again left me a feeling of dread and loneliness.
After aliyah there were many adjustments. The first year was very difficult. I had to focus all my energy on supporting the children with their emotional, academic and language challenges. In addition, my husband was commuting every two weeks to the US for work, so the challenges of dealing with all the children’s issues all fell on my shoulders. This was very difficult because I was going through my own issues of loneliness and missing my friends while I had to be strong to help the kids get through their challenges.

8. How did the move affect your children, do you think they have been accepted into Israeli society?
I have 6 children and each of them has their own personality which affects how they deal with change and how quickly they learn a new language. Some are more outgoing and self confident and were able to initiate social relationships with greater ease than others After about a year and a half most of the kids are closer to finding their niche. I think that on some level many of the Israeli kids have reached out to my kids, but my children still fell more comfortable socializing with the Anglo population.

9. How did you meet your husband?
Neil was a medical student at Albert Einstein medical Center-Yeshiva University’s medical school. I was a graduate student in psychology at the Yeshiva University- Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology which shared a library with the medical school. Part of my educational requirements necessitated that I become comfortable administering psychological tests. I was instructed to find volunteers who I could practice test administration on. I went to the library and found a handsome young man wearing a knitted kippah studying diligently. I asked him if he would be willing to be tested. He was intrigued by the idea and agreed.

10 Did you husband want to move to Israel?
Yes we both made a united decision to move to Israel. However, as the date drew closer and our anxiety levels increased there were days where one of us would be very committed to moving and the other would have strong doubts. The next day however, the roles may have changed completely.

11. Why did you wait so long to make aliyah?
Honestly, we didn’t think about aliyah when we first get married. We were both very professionally career oriented. I was committed to getting my PhD, and my husband was committed o completing his MD, PhD. Attaining our degrees was our focus. It was only after we started having children and starred thinking about the life lessons and choices we were making and how they would be perceived by the children that we were forced to rethink the paths we were choosing in life.

12. What are some of the cultural differences between Israel and America?
Culturally there are many differences. Driving is one example. In America people keep much more of a distance between cars. In Israel people drive right up to you and pass you on the road. There is also a difference in family and work values. In America there is a different work ethic. People are expected to leave their home issues home and come to work fully focused. In Israel the boundary between home and work is not as clear. Education is very different as well. In America there is more pressure to push a head and succeed. When children are young they are taught pre-academic skills in a fun way. In Israel there is such an emphasis on not stressing the children that children do not begin to learn letters and early math skills as early on. In addition, in America people plan way in advance and obsess over their arrangements. In Israel people are much more spontaneous and last minute in their plans. In Israel ,people are forced to deal with life and death issues which cause them to not sweat the small things, which most Americans would sweat over.

13. What do you think makes Israel, Israel?
Modern Israel is the same as biblical Israel. All those stories we learned in day school in tanach are really brought to life in Israel, they are no longer just stories in a book.

14. What are some of your memories of Israel as a young child?
The first time I went to Israel on a family trip I must have been about 7 years old. I had such great expectations. When we drove to the kotel area and the City of David area I was so disappointed to see so many old rocks and stone walls. I couldn’t understand how all that ancient looking stuff could be so meaningful to people. I also have a memory of my family attending Menachem Begin’s house. My father had been invited to meet him to receive an award for his many contributions to Jewish causes. When I was 18 I went to work on a kibbutz in the summer called Tirat Tzvi. I would get up at 4 AM drink black coffee, drive on a tractor to the cotton field. I developed a real connection to the land that summer.

15. Did your school encourage Zionism?
The Jewish day School I attended, Yeshiva of Flatbush has a very Zionistic philosophy. The school also emphasizes the need to teach all students to converse in Hebrew with ease. The school prides itself on the number of graduates who ultimately make aliyah.

16. What do you do today to be involved in your new country?
After being in the country for a year and a half I find I am less an observer and more an active participant. I now work in Efrat as a psychologist which allows me to contribute to society. I pick up tremps, enabling me to reach out and help my fellow neighbors and I even initiate action. About a month ago I noticed an Arab licensed car sitting idly in front of a shul. There were no people around, only a knapsack sitting in front of the door of the shul. I passed by the shul and questioned to myself whether I should notify the authorities or leave that to someone else to do. From the moment that I made that call to the Moked to inform them of what I had seen something changed inside of me. I realized then, that I am now a true resident of Efrat, not just a bystander, This is my home and I need to protect it and not leave that responsibility on the shoulders of someone else.

17. What are some of your dreams for the future?
I would like one day to work part time in a rehabilitation center, like Alyn Hospital as a neuropsychologoical consultant and part time in private practice. I would hope that my children would reach a point where they feel fully accepted and embraced by Israel and its people, and that they feel like they fit in. I would hope that they grow up to feel a sense of love for the land and build their families here so that we can all grow old together, literally joining in each other’s lives.