Updated: May 4, 2021
Aliyah Date: July 1989 Made Aliyah from Queens, NY Currently living in Efrat
Lauren has been in Israel for nearly 30 years, and in that time, has gained a breadth of knowledge about what it takes to survive here. Keep reading to hear the ups and downs of her Aliyah story, and how she made her life here!
Lauren made Israel her home on July 4, 1989. She studied on the Overseas Student Program at Tel Aviv University in 1985-86, and explains, "Israel was so charming in the mid-'80s. No smartphones, no computers. There were no expectations to write papers." When Lauren came to Israel, you had to dial an operator and wait for the operator to put your phone call through if you wanted to call America! There were maybe three phones on all of campus, and students would be waiting for the phone all the time!
After her time at Tel Aviv University, she went back to the States for a bit. But she knew she wanted to be in Israel. She got on a plane to Tel Aviv in 1989. The shaliah (emissary) in Boston thought people who wanted to make aliyah were crazy, so he refused to help her process her aliyah, find an ulpan, etc, so the initial transition for Lauren was hard. She bounced around for a few years. In 1993, she went back to the States to regroup and in 1996, she decided to return to Israel and attended a women's seminary in Jerusalem. She felt more grounded and found herself this time around. She started working with The Jerusalem Report in sales and worked for a translation company that produced an almanac about Israel.
Then, Lauren moved to live in Beit El in the Shomron, close to Ramallah. Lauren had developed strange symptoms where she had very red skin, was very fatigued, and couldn’t find the medical help that she needed. Doctors told her they couldn't treat her for it, that it was a rash. But her symptoms worsened and she felt alone. After going to Dana Farber in Boston for a consultation, she discovered she had a rare form of cancer. She returned to Israel and with the diagnosis started treatment which worked fairly well, and then she got married. Two years after marrying, Lauren had her daughter and needed to be at home with her. During this time, her illness worsened and Lauren had to start chemotherapy.
The question was – if Lauren was to do chemo, she might not be able to have another baby, but she was three weeks away from death.
Lauren and her husband lived in Beit Shemesh but Lauren didn’t have friends and the heat was killing her, so they moved to Efrat. She was doing chemo and was a stay-at-home mom, doing writing on the side. She also worked for several non-profits.
Despite doing chemo, Lauren had her son (a miracle!) She was home with him, but also slowly built her business during that time. In her business, "Turn Write This Way”, Lauren writes biographies for private clients, memoir cookbooks, and marketing materials.
A few years ago, she started another business called "Clutters Last Stand” -- where she "edits peoples’ things" and helps them to declutter and downsize!
She’s been split from her husband for seven years, and though she’s stuck in Efrat for now, she plans to move north as soon as possible. Her daughter Meira is now 17 and going to do Sherut Leumi next year, and her son is in 8th grade. Now Lauren is working on a novel, which she hopes to publish in a few months.
Lauren's advice for people making Aliyah
She says, "I grew up in a difficult environment. From when I was a teen, I was running. First of all, if you're making Aliyah, make sure you're mentally and emotionally healthy. It's ok to have some things going on, but don’t come here with a lot of mental baggage. Don’t come here to escape!
The other thing is when I arrived, I got off the plane with only $200. In 1989 that was ok. You can no longer do that. You need money to live. Especially now with the train, people should look to the periphery for living in less expensive areas.
Wait to make Aliyah if you’re single – start here with a nest egg. You need to have money and be prepared with a solid financial base. It's great to come with a job online in the States, and know that you can’t be too proud to work in certain jobs.
You’re never going to be 100% Israeli; that’s ok. I moved here so my kids wouldn’t have to. I knew when I was 9 that the community in the diaspora wasn’t sustainable. If I want my children to marry Jews I needed to raise them in a strong Jewish community.
And finally, Israel is always here. Even if you wait to come, you can still make a successful life here. Hatzlacha rabba!"