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Friday, October 07, 2022
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Jackie Schlussel Goldberg, 28, made aliyah from Edison, New Jersey in 2017. In Edison, she davened at Ohav Emeth and went to RPRY and Kushner for school. She lives in Tel Aviv with her husband, Zack.

Aviva: Tell me about a significant early trip to Israel.

Jackie: My first trip to Israel, when I was 12, was for Pesach. My aunt, uncle and six cousins had just moved to Israel, so the extended family decided to go to Israel for the holiday. I remember being surprised by how normal Israel was. It wasn’t a desert wasteland—there were nice houses, hotels and cities. I know a lot of Modern Orthodox, Zionistic people go to Israel much earlier than 12 years old, but it was a good age to go because I was old enough to remember it and to have a real impression of it.

What was your Zionist education like in your schools?

My middle school’s philosophy was Zionistic. Whenever there was a war going on in Israel, the principal of the school would make this funny comparison between Tehillim (Psalms) and Tilim (rockets). He would tell us that our Tehillim were like rockets, which really made an impact on me.

Where did you go to camp?

I went to Camp Moshava I.O. in Pennsylvania, which does a great job of making young people feel connected to Israel at a young age.

Where did you go after high school?

For my gap year, I went to Midreshet Harova, which turned my Zionistic feelings into more logical, easily expressed feelings.

After a year in Israel, were you thinking you’d like to stay, or did you want to go back to college?

Towards the end of my year, I felt like I wanted to stay, but I knew that it was not an option. I was registered for college in America, and I wanted to go. I was also aware of the fact that I had just been in a very intensely Zionistic environment. I wanted to cool off a little and go to college. I figured that if aliyah was something I really wanted, I would do it in four years, instead of being impulsive.

What motivated you to come to Israel?

I had an internship in my last year of college, and I decided if that organization offered me my dream job, I would stay in the U.S., but I also wanted to move to Israel. They offered me the position, but eventually, I decided to move to Israel.

I was fresh out of college looking for a new apartment, supporting myself and looking for a job. I felt that if I was going to do all that, I should try it for a year in Israel.

What are you doing professionally in Israel?

I studied media and communications in college, and I was doing foundation work in the U.S. In Israel, I pivoted to a job as a content marketing manager at
Monday.com.

What do you love about living in Israel?

The fact that the national holidays are mine. Being in Israel means being surrounded by your own people. Whether you agree or disagree with the politicians, their primary goal, no matter what their politics are, is to look after the Jewish people and create a home for them.

Is there anything you miss about living in New Jersey?

I miss the ease of living there that you don’t even realize you have until you don’t have it anymore. Culturally, I’ll always be a foreigner here. I can live here for 200 years, and the second I open my mouth, everyone knows that I’m an immigrant.

Do you have a message for somebody who’s thinking about making aliyah?

For every person, aliyah can look slightly different. Some people get on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight, leave their American passport behind, and jump into Israeli culture without looking back. For them, that’s what they need to do to get themselves here. For other people, it’s a much slower and more gentle process. Either way, it’s OK to end up in the place that you want to be.

Even though it doesn’t always feel like it, if you look back at yourself on day one, you have really become more Israeli than you might have thought.

By Aviva Zacks

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