July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Featured Olim: Claire and Dov Zakheim

The Jewish Link of New Jersey’s new column, Road to Aliyah, is devoted to local individuals and families who are making aliyah. Each aliyah story is unique and inspirational and may perhaps assist others who may be thinking of embarking on this great journey.

Claire and Dov Zakheim made aliyah on November 17, traveling on an El Al group flight through Nefesh B’Nefesh. Their entire aliyah process took one year, throughout which they were guided and assisted by the NBN staff in Paramus. Additional help came from a Facebook blog entitled “Making Aliyah in 2015,” through which recent arrivals to Israel offer helpful suggestions based upon their recent experiences.

The Zakheims are settling in Arnona, Jerusalem, where they will join a significant community of new olim, many from the USA and Canada. They are joining their daughter and her family who reside in Efrat—“a realistic commute,” according to Claire. They are leaving two sons and their families in the USA, one in Teaneck and one temporarily in Tennessee. However, they plan on “re-uniting for happy family occasions in the near future.”

The Zakheims have resided in Teaneck for 30 years, in two homes. Their primary shul throughout those years was Beth Aaron where Dov was very involved in the financial running of the shul. Their children attended local yeshivot including YNJ, TABC and Bat Torah. When their children were young, Claire participated in sisterhood events while holding adjunct positions at local colleges. Claire subsequently joined the faculty of the Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business where she taught statistics, calculus and related subjects. Twelve years ago she was invited to join the administrative team at Sy Syms as an academic adviser. Since joining the team, Claire has been busy helping students prepare their courses of study and work out other academic issues. Dov is a CPA who has worked primarily with Jewish non-profits. His last position was with HASC where he served as CFO for many productive years.

The Zakheims’ road to aliyah actually began during the three years that Claire spent as an undergraduate at Hebrew University. Hailing from a farm in Southwestern Ontario, Claire had never experienced living within a vibrant, Jewish community. To ensure their Jewish education, Claire’s parents transported her and her sister to an after-school Jewish supplementary program fifteen miles away. However, it was the years spent in Israel that clinched Claire’s desire to eventually make aliyah, a goal she has pursued throughout these intervening years. Claire is encouraging her somewhat-hesitant husband to “join her on this journey” which she feels will eventually become his dream as well.

Claire and Dov look forward to attending shiurim in and around Yerushalayim, signing up for classes offered through various educational institutions and volunteering at some of the hundreds of available volunteer opportunities. Dov hopes to volunteer at a children’s hospital, bringing comfort to young patients. Both are eagerly anticipating surrounding themselves with the large family of cousins who have already made aliyah from France, and participating in many upcoming family simchas.

Claire’s message to retirees considering this fulfillment of a lifelong dream is to realize that their daily needs will not be as complicated as those of young families making aliyah. Their acclimation to a new life can take as long as need be. Meanwhile, the Zakheims will be “contributing to the Israeli economy, creating a whole new workforce of volunteers and, most importantly, standing firm with Israel.”

Claire’s concluding message to all of us is to “continue davening for the safety and well-being of our Israeli brethren.”

By Pearl Markovitz

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