Shhh... It's A Secret

We were torn. We needed help and information to make our decision but we were not sure if we were actually going to move. We did not want to start sharing the “non-news” with our friends and family just to decide that we are staying in New Jersey. So, we started reaching out to people in Israel about budgets, communities and life in Israel. After each conversation we made our request: please keep this a secret, we are not really telling people yet…

Every person we called or emailed was so warm and welcoming. They were excited to hear our plans and generous with the knowledge they had to help us.

Our first major question was how much money do we need to live comfortably in Israel? We are a family of 6 K’H. Consensus from our friends and family was that we would need around $70,000 a year, after taxes. We looked at sample budgets from friends and on NBN’s website and everything confirmed that number. So, we had a goal. We needed to find jobs that we would earn around $70,000. We told ourselves, if we could do that then we would go.

Simcha is a lawyer by trade and works in the insurance industry now. The questions arose- should he try to stay in law? Should he try to find an American job that he can transfer to remote work? After all, he does work 3 days a week from home right now. Can he find something that would be all 5 days from home? How would traveling for court appearances work if we lived so far away? Would he be able to move up in his career in a remote position? Or maybe he should start a new career altogether? Maybe he should learn coding and get a job in the highly sought out hi-tech field? After all, that is the way of the future.

As for me - I am an Occupational Therapist and I love working as one. I work in elementary schools and really feel passionate about helping children achieve their goals. In order to work as an OT in Israel, I need to take the Israeli OT board exam. The test process seemed a bit daunting. When will I have time to study for a board exam while working full time, taking care of four kids, and packing up our lives? Once I pass the boards, will I be able to transition my experience to a different country? How will I be able to work in schools in Israel without being fluent in the language? Maybe I, too, should be looking for a career change that better suits our new lives. Perhaps I should find a remote position so I can be home with the kids more during the transition.

So, again, we networked. We reached out to people in our fields and gathered more and more information. What type of jobs can we get? How much would we be able to anticipate earning in each job? What are the demands of each job? And of course, how can we do it with “rusty” hebrew? So far we are pursuing it all. I am working on getting my paperwork in order for the board exam and starting to think about how to rewrite my resume with a more skill-based emphasis to open new doors. Simcha is studying coding and networking for law jobs at the same time. At this point we want to keep all our options open.

Finally, we asked about communities. If we can afford to move, where will we move to? We asked our friends in Israel about their communities as well as recommendations for us. We read about the communities on NBN’s website and reached out to their contacts with our list of questions. Some people wrote back, others called, and all were friendly and helpful. We found out which places sounded like somewhere we can be comfortable. As of now, we narrowed it down to Rechovot, Ramot and Ramat Beit Shemesh. I guess we like the letter R?

After our information gathering seemed to be going well, it was time to break the news to our parents. Honestly, we didn’t know how it would go. Simcha and I are very fortunate to both have siblings in America and Israel. Our parents are very used to visiting Israel to see their children and grandchildren. When we move, we will just be adding a stop to their Israeli visits. However, we would be seeing them a lot less. We usually see my parents once every 6 weeks and Simcha’s parents stop in once every couple months, as well. We were pleasantly surprised how supportive both sides were. Each was excited for us and also had a lot of questions. We are still answering them . . .

How should we tell our daughters ages 8, 6, and 4 (and a baby on the way)? We wanted it to be fun and exciting news. Our girls love dessert! Over Sukkot, we made a special cake with a huge Israeli flag on it. When we brought out the surprise dessert we made our announcement: we are moving to Israel in the summer!  After a slight hesitation, the kids cheered and enjoyed a nice portion of cake to celebrate. We talked about how hard it is going to be to leave our house and friends. The kids had real concerns about how their lives will change. We validated their fears and told them we felt the same way. We showed them videos of the past NBN charter flights landing and the kids have not stopped talking about the fun party after we get off the plane. Simcha and I watched the videos with tears in our eyes thinking about the big step we are planning to take. Then we made our appeal: please don’t tell anyone, It’s a secret!

We can not believe that we have made it this far still keeping it a secret. The kids ask us all the time when they can tell their friends and we keep asking each other- what are we waiting for? When are we going to go public with the news? How should we tell our friends? I guess that is the next step we have to take.