Updated: May 31, 2021
Aliyah date: July 2011
Made Aliyah from California
Currently living in Tel Aviv
As Theodor Herzl once taught, “If you will it, it is no dream”…
And this is the philosophy that has brought Matan Bouganim all the way from the small town of Agoura Hills, CA to the sandy beaches of Tel Aviv, now a successful Israeli entrepreneur. At just 29 years old, Matan has accomplished quite a lot, as his creativity and dreams continue to lead him along the way.
Although he wasn’t always dreaming of Israel, Matan always felt a pull towards serving in the military. It wasn’t until a middle school teacher of his (who was a US war veteran himself) encouraged Matan to join the IDF, that Israel entered his heart. As someone who greatly connected with his American identity, his Jewish identity often took the backseat. But being the son of two Israeli immigrants, it finally clicked. After much time spent researching Israel and its own honorable fight against terrorism, Matan had made his decision. He would serve his own people, safeguard his own heritage, and protect his own land.
In 2011, Matan made his way to the holy land to take part in Garin Tzabar, a #Masa program created to help support young Jews from around the world prepare for and integrate into their service in the IDF. Living on the beautiful and green Kibbutz Hazoreah with a group of like-minded yet diverse young adults in northern Israel, Matan served in Samson’s Foxes, the elite reconnaissance unit of the Givati brigade, and made friends to last a lifetime.
Even today, in his home city of sunny Tel Aviv, Matan’s friends from those first few years of his life in Israel have become his family. Not only do they still see each other every few days for their weekly BBQs, but they are each other’s support system here, as they began their journeys together, and intend to stick together all the way through.
What is Matan up to today?
After finishing the army and university in Israel, he began his career teaching history and government to international high school students in Hod Hasharon. But ever the entrepreneur, Matan continued to fill his mind with new ideas, creative initiatives, and business dreams. He jumped into the world of Israeli start-ups with a fellow teacher, and hasn’t looked back!
Today Matan co-owns “Erez Coffee Co”, the cold brew coffee that Israel has been waiting for! Cold brew has been brewing in the US and Europe for years now but hadn’t reached Israel in a big way. But according to Matan, it happens to be the most perfect drink for Israel- it is both healthy, delicious, and cold (which is much needed in the sweltering heat of the Middle East!).
“My vision was to bring mindfulness to an activity that people continue to do every day, but with a twist! Not only is cold brew, well, cold, but each bean tastes different, and each drink has a different story. Wars may have been fought over coffee in the past, but today, coffee is what brings so many people together. It’s universal, and connects cultures!”
And Erez Coffee plays on exactly this- each drink is a fun and playful version of coffee from different cultures and countries all around the world! Within each coffee is a story unto itself, and each sip connects us to those around us.
Check out Erez Coffee and be sure to be on the lookout for their pop-up stores in Tel Aviv, in addition to their delivery services.
But opening up your own business doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges, and the process can be both arduous and tiring. With so many details and hoops to jump through in Israeli bureaucracy, Matan succeeded where so many do not.
“As amazing as Israel is in so many ways, the challenges of building a business were ones that I could never have foreseen. It takes hard work, connections, and a lot of drive to make it here in the business world, and I feel so lucky to have gotten to where I have!”
What are some of Matan’s favorite Israeli moments?
Even with all of the frustrations and challenges, I don’t feel so at home anywhere else. And I’m not the only one! I have a non-Jewish, non-Israeli friend who felt exactly the same way the second he landed here too!
Israel is just home.
I can be so authentically me, honest and real with the people here. We may have our Israeli Chutzpah, but nobody gets offended because we are family. Israel feels like one big village. We are all connected, and this mindset is the key to success in all areas of life- social, personal, and professional!
Matan’s Advice for Future Olim:
Be open to what Israel has to offer, and try not to compare Israel too much to your home country. It will be different, without a doubt. But focus on what you have gained here, instead of what you are missing!
אם תרצו, אין זו אגדה!
**If you are interested in Garin Tzabar through Masa, learn more here!