June 23, 2024
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June 23, 2024
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Q & A With New Olah, Livingston’s Noa Niv

With her brother and sister already in the Jewish state, Noa Niv is looking forward to this new chapter in her life where opportunities are endless.

Livingston native Noa Niv didn’t hesitate when she packed her belongings and hopped on a plane to Israel. And why should she? As a proud Zionist who is fluent in Hebrew and already has two siblings living in the Jewish state, moving to Israel seemed like the next logical step in her life.

Now a student in an academic preparatory school for immigrants at Bar Ilan University, Niv hopes to eventually enroll in Tel Aviv University and earn a degree in computer science and neuroscience. She’s not quite sure what will follow—Niv considers medical school a viable option. In the meantime, she is enjoying her new life in Israel surrounded by a loving community and family.

Niv moved to Israel on January 12 with Nefesh B’Nefesh, which, in cooperation with

Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren

Kayemeth Le’Israel and JNF-USA, has facilitated the aliyah of 65,000 North

Americans to Israel.

Why did you decide to make aliyah?

I grew up with Israeli parents and family in New Jersey. Israel was very prevalent in my life. I always had a special connection to Israel, which always felt like home—it was automatic. Over the years I got involved with my Jewish community. I was president of the Israel club in my high school for two years, served as a counselor in tzofim (scouts) in New Jersey and I was involved in a Jewish Federation program for young people. I just always knew this is what I wanted to do.

Last year, I came to Israel on a gap year. I wanted to see what it would be like to live there, but experience things beyond going to the beach and hanging out with friends. I wanted to experience what Israel is like when you have a budget and responsibilities. Even with all the hardships that COVID brought and how things are a little more expensive I still love it.

What is it about Israel that makes you love it so much?

I just love the sense of community. Everyone is always willing to help—it doesn’t matter if you’re friends with them or not. Everyone genuinely cares for one another.

During my gap year doing an internship at Hadassah Medical Center, I grew and learned so much. Despite COVID disrupting our year, we were still able to do some fun activities, like hiking, surfing and laser tag.

That said, life isn’t easy here in Israel. Back in the United States I lived a good life. I had my own car, good friends, a nice house. In Israel, I live in a small, cramped apartment and I need to take the bus to buy groceries—but I still love it. It doesn’t bother me.

I think it’s really emotional that we’re able to be here in the land of our ancestors. We persevered through all this adversity and built a successful country with a thriving community. That always chokes me up and I think it’s a big part of why I’m here too. My parents are very Zionistic and are always teaching us that we should never take for granted the fact that we have our own country. It’s our duty to support it.

Speaking of your family, your parents are still in the US, but your siblings have all made aliyah, correct?

My sister made aliyah 10 years ago and my brother made aliyah two years ago. My mom is a teacher, but my dad has his practice in the city so he can’t just pick up and move. I hope they will join us soon, but everything will come in its own time.

What are your plans now that you’re there?

I’ve always wanted to work in medicine, but now I’m reevaluating that. I know I want to do a science-based degree and if I’m still passionate about medicine I’ll apply to medical school.

How has your time in quarantine been? What about making aliyah during COVID?

It hasn’t been easy, but we’re in exam period right now at school so it’s nice that the only thing I have to focus on is studying. I’m studying at Bar Ilan to convert my grades from the U.S. to ones that will be recognized in Israel, so that has taken up much of my time. I’m fluent in Hebrew, but studying in high-level Hebrew is a bit of a challenge. But you get used to it, work hard and it works out.

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