Aliyah Date: January 20, 2015
From: Cork, Ireland
Currently lives in Jerusalem
Daniel Rosehill is an Irish-born Jew now living in Israel. Most people are surprised when he tells them where he’s originally from because most people don’t realize there are Irish Jews. Daniel was born in Dublin, Ireland, and grew up in Cork, Ireland, where his grandfather kept the only synagogue running. They had services once a month because there just weren't enough people to attend more often.
Since Daniel’s family was one of the very few Jewish families in Cork, some of those who came to the monthly services were Israelis that were in Ireland on a work assignment for a few years. Even with that, in most cases, there wasn’t even a minyan (quorum of men) for the once-a-month Friday night services.
Daniel went to local Irish schools, and he never felt that his Jewish identity set him apart. Until it did. When he was a kid, his family moved to Scotland and then the Netherlands for a period of time. The turning point came when they returned to Cork for his bar mitzvah. It was only when Daniel turned 13 that he started to feel out of place and different.
That’s when he also started to find out more about Judaism. Although there were no local resources, the internet was an amazing place to discover Judaism. Daniel even learned his bar mitzvah parsha (weekly Torah portion) through a CD tutorial. It was just a few years later, at 16, that he got a chance to really delve into the Jewish world.
Although they didn’t have a personal relationship, since there are just a few Jewish communities, the Habad Rabbi in Dublin, Zalman Shimon Lent, reached out to Daniel’s mom to let her know about a Birthright trip to Israel he was organizing. Daniel had never been to Israel and didn’t have any specific connection. As Daniel put it, “My only connection to Judaism was through the computer.” So he went to find out more about Jewish life outside of Ireland.
Once in Israel, Daniel was hooked. After his short trip, he knew he wanted to move to Israel. “This is the only place to be. A place where being Jewish is not only not something to be ashamed of - it’s normal.” Having an abundance of kosher food was pretty exciting too. “Kosher is the norm! You just go out for lunch and you’ll get kosher, it’s expected. To me, that’s worth a million dollars.”
Daniel made aliyah 10 years later in 2015 and met his wife, also an Olah, not long after. Now, especially considering how isolating it was to grow up as Jew in Ireland, Daniel wants to make Israel his home. “I’m here because it's a Jews natural habitat. It’s the only Jewish country in the world and it's the only country where it's practical to live a fulfilled Jewish life.”
To Daniel, moving to Israel is about much more than having access to delicious kosher food. “I think that Israel is a work in progress. It's the Startup Nation but the country itself is also a startup in a sense. We are all putting paint on the blank canvas of our lives here, and the country, and there's a sense that everyone here matters. It’s not enough to live here, have a job and pay taxes, there has to be more to it and we are all, in our various ways, working towards that. We're all builders working on the construction site of the Jewish state”
Daniel with his wife
A marketing consultant and writer, Daniel is also trying to do his part to contribute to the health and success of the Jewish nation - in particular for Olim. “When I was in Ireland we had an intern who was an immigrant and one day I found out that he was living in a terrible apartment with a slumlord. I was shocked - but now I know that the immigrant experience is similar in most places - and I want to make that process a little easier through that process.”
Daniel recently started a website called After Aliyah to help new immigrants because “In many ways moving to Israel is the classic immigrant experience and for some reason, we don't expect it to be.” After Aliyah is an information resource with how-to guides and tips about living in Israel.
He started the site because he saw a gap in available knowledge. There are agencies to help with the bureaucracy, but “once you get past the bureaucracy - there’s a whole world of daily living. If you look at Facebook groups there are like 20 burning topics that come up over and over. People need help with some very practical things like how to navigate Yad2 or Shufersal online shopping.”
As an immigrant himself, he understands how overwhelming it can be to start mastering systems in a new country. “There are different modules: How to order groceries online, how to get a driver's license etc… and I feel like I just graduated from the undergraduate course and am just now really getting started.”
Most recently, Daniel set out to investigate how to use TikTak, the new shared shuttle service offered by Egged (not to be confused with TikTok, the social media app). He took a trip and wrote out step-by-step how to use the new transport service.
If you are making aliyah or have already made aliyah, have a lot of patience with yourself and the process. You can't just drop into Israel and do everything at once.
The good news is that Israel is like a blank slate. The challenging part of that is that you may be setback professionally since you have no connections (family or professional) but there's a positive there too. You can come to Israel, start from scratch, and create new opportunities.
It's a mission to make it work here but we are building up the Jewish country. That’s why I’m excited about post-aliyah guidance. We’re not at the point of mosquitoes and no electricity but we are still building the country - and we need all hands on deck.
If you want to hear Daniel's Irish accent, check out the video below he made about our interview!