Effie and Ruchie Wiesel of Teaneck, accompanied by daughters Dorit, 19; Nava, 18 and Liat, 14, boarded a Nefesh B’Nefesh Group flight on Tuesday, August 2, and were feted to a warm, welcoming parade and festivities upon their arrival in the village of Moreshet, a community or yishuv in the central Galilee on Wednesday afternoon, August 3. However, this was not the first time that Teaneck residents were welcomed by Moreshet with a gala parade. Just last year, on August 18, Shari and Phil Reis and their children, of Highland Park, were warmly welcomed to Moreshet by flag-waving youth, the blowing of the shofar, dancing and singing and the obligatory l’chaim. What makes Moreshet so welcoming to its olim from Teaneck?
The answer lies with Ezra Gilbert, also formerly of Teaneck, who made aliyah eight years ago with wife Roni and two children. Today, he resides in Moreshet and is the proud father of five. Across the road from the Gilberts live the Mandelbaums, also formerly of Teaneck, who made aliyah in 2011, directly to Moreshet. However, the Gilberts and the Mandelbaums were not the first Teaneckers to move to Moreshet. They were preceded by Attorney Haim Gelfand and family who own that distinction.
What is the magic that draws Teaneckers to Moreshet? Founded 20 years ago, Moreshet is populated mostly by Israelis (92%), with Anglos from the US and Canada (8%). Located in the Lower Galil, Moreshet is a dati leumi yishuv close to Carmiel, the fastest-growing city in the region, and 40 minutes from Haifa. It is the only dati yishuv among the 30 yishuvim in the Misgav conglomerate. Set into a lovely, suburban landscape, the houses are surrounded by sizeable plots of land and remain affordable. There is an elementary school on the yishuv and then many choices for junior high and high school within a 45-minute commute including in Kiryat Ata, Tiberias and Meron. There are currently 240 families on the yishuv and preparations are under way for a fifth residential area with an additional 45 families.
When the Gilberts made aliyah in 2008, they landed “softly” in Modiin. However, it quickly became clear to them that they would be unable to sustain the upscale lifestyle of that city. They had always been attracted by the beauty and terrain of the Galil and so they researched appropriate communities, which led them to Moreshet. But within the same year of their arrival, Avi Mandelbaum, Gilbert’s friend from Beth Aaron’s Boy Scout troop would also move to Moreshet, across the street, with his three children (he now has five daughters).
When the Gilberts landed in Modiin, they were not greeted by a parade. In fact, after the festive welcome at Ben Gurion arranged by Nefesh B’Nefesh, they were virtually on their own. They had to figure out key financial arrangements to get going, which were often confusing. There seemed to be a disconnect in understanding between the native Israeli residents and the needs of the new olim.
For this reason, after settling into Moreshet, the Gilberts and Mandelbaums, looking forward to additional Anglo olim, worked alongside the Israeli families in Moreshet in their preparations for receiving the newcomers and attending to their needs. Their services included being in constant contact prior to their arrival through WhatsApp, helping them decide upon rentals and even helping them with the paperwork and finances needed to begin. They made sure that upon arrival their new homes would have a fully stocked refrigerator, beds and other necessary furniture to get started and of course weekday meals and Shabbat invitations.
And most visibly, upon arrival a big parade including the entire yishuv, Israelis and Anglos alike, celebrating their arrival with tupim u’mecholot, drums and dances. Gilbert feels that the Israelis in the yishuv should be fully aware of the giant step that aliyah poses for Anglo olim. In fact, Gilbert is hoping that this awareness will spread to yishuvim throughout the country and help them to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of new olim. This message has already reached a yishuv in the Negev called Merchav Am and the hope is that there will be a positive chain reaction.
As Moreshet is one and a half hours away from Ben Gurion, a family of recent Anglo olim volunteered to meet the Wiesels at the airport and start the celebrations immediately upon their landing.
The Wiesels had a home waiting for them in Moreshet. Effie will continue his line of work as a machinist. Ruchie would like to settle the family in and then decide what direction to pursue. As for the girls, Dorit will be doing her year of Sherut Leumi in Emunah’s Beit Elazraki in Netanya. Nava will be spending her “gap” year at the same location in a program that combines Judaic studies with serving as a “big sister”to the young residents. Liat will be starting high school.
Ruchie felt that for each girl, their aliyah came at a “pivotal juncture, a natural bend in their lives, which hopefully will prove successful in their new surroundings.” For Ruchie and the family, “Moreshet’s suburban feel reminds them very much of Teaneck in pace and ambience.”
Gilbert’s hope is that in paving the way for a positive and pleasant aliyah for the olim to Moreshet, “when, God willing, members of my family finally decide to make aliyah, they will be treated similarly to the benefit of all.”