There’s no room for apprehensiveness or nerves–just hard work and faith.

And it’s this can-do spirit that has carried this couple from the USA to Australia to Israel, where they have launched their own businesses and opened up their home to help inspire others.


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An International Romance


The odds of the Sydney and Brooklyn natives meeting were slim, but Mookie and Lazer first found each other when Mookie was running a chapter of the Friendship Circle, an organization for children with special needs, in San Francisco. They went on several dates in San Francisco and New York, and knew it was meant to be.


After getting married in Sydney, the two spent a few months living and studying in Israel. Having both studied in Israel before, Mookie and Lazer felt right at home. “We thought, maybe we could live here,” said Mookie.


But, instead of staying, the two decided to build their careers in New York. Mookie, who had taken a florist course in Sydney, found a job at a flower shop, where she worked on creating the floral arrangements for big events. Lazer, who had first gotten into the world of public relations while doing publicity for Yuri Foreman, a champion boxer from Israel, launched a boutique PR firm.


Lazer and Mookie were both making good livings, but they did not see themselves staying in Brooklyn. For Lazer, the decision to move to Israel was a no-brainer. “I wanted to live in Israel because I’m Jewish. I didn’t need a reason aside from that.”


Making Plans for the Big Move


As soon as the two decided they were set on moving to Israel, they met with a Nefesh B’Nefesh representative in Manhattan. “We thought we’d move to Israel in a year, but the Nefesh B’Nefesh guy said, ‘If you’re ready, why wait?’” remembered Lazer. “We realized he was right.”


With plans to move in a few months, Lazer and Mookie started breaking the news to friends. Unfortunately, people were not as excited as they were.


“Either we’d get a dismissive ‘good luck,’ or people would tell us, ‘You know it’s not easy to make a living there,’” said Lazer. “But I wasn’t concerned at all. I knew that if you’re ambitious and work hard — and obviously have mazal (luck) — you can make a living anywhere.”


Lazer and Mookie also knew that it would be an adjustment. They had to learn Hebrew, find an apartment, and figure out exactly what they wanted to do. “We were under no illusion that we’d come to Israel and immediately be able to work,” said Lazer. “When you move to a new place — any new place — you have to live on a budget before you’re more settled.”

Building a Home in Jerusalem


After staying with Lazer’s aunt and uncle for a few weeks, the couple found an apartment in Rehavia. Their new home not only had enough room for a studio where Mookie could do her flower arrangements, it was also perfect for a new baby. Mookie was already three months pregnant.


While attending Hebrew Ulpan classes, Lazer and Mookie also started to network. Mookie found a part-time job at a flower store in Talbiyeh, where she was able to learn which flowers grew in each season, as well as all of the flowers’ names in Hebrew.


Lazer met with the employment department at Nefesh B’Nefesh, who connected him to Israelis in the PR industry. They told him about a job opening at a Jerusalem-based firm. Lazer applied and was hired to be an account manager. In his work, he represented Israeli-based companies to the American media, with a large focus on the hi-tech industry.


Compared to the American work environment, the Israeli office was very casual. “People would wear t-shirts and flip flops to work, and they’d answer their phones in the middle of meetings — even if it was their grandmother calling,” laughed Lazer. “But I worked with smart and good people, and I appreciated that everyone was up front about asking questions and expressing concerns.”


With stable incomes flowing in, the couple prepared to welcome their first child into their lives. At Hadassah Hospital, Mookie delivered her baby girl with a Canadian Israeli duela by her side.


“The midwives were amazing and the doctors here make you feel like you’re more than just a patient they’re treating,” said Lazer. “They make you feel like family.”


During the two weeks following their baby girl’s birth, new neighbors delivered meals to the new parents.


Bringing their Businesses to Israel


A few months after their baby was born, Mookie launched her flower company, Pine & Clover. She traveled to Tel Aviv’s flower market and decided to start small, creating Shabbat bouquets and arrangements. She opened a Facebook page and Instagram account, which she filled with photos of her original designs — richly colored flowers arranged in vases or small bird cages.


“In New York, there’s so much competition in the flower business,” said Mookie. “But in Israel, I really felt like I could bring something new to the industry.”


She also started offering flower arrangement classes in her studio, where 10-15 women would gather to learn how to make a bouquet one week, and a Japanese ikebana arrangement the next. Word spread about Mookie’s innovative designs, and event planners began calling her to do the arrangements for weddings and bar mitzvahs.


Recently, she was in charge of the flower arrangements in a wedding hall in Jerusalem. “I was setting up the flowers on the chuppah while facing the Old City walls, and I thought, ‘I’m in Israel–and this is what I do for a living!’ It was very magical.”


After about two years at the PR firm in Jerusalem, Lazer also felt that it was the right time to launch his own marketing and PR firm in Israel, He opened WestRay Communications and in only a few months, Lazer already took on a number of clients. Coming with an American perspective, Lazer helps companies communicate their message in a way that resonates with an international audience.


So far all of his clients have come from word of mouth. “If you offer a good service and deliver on your promises, you’ll do well and your business will grow,” said Lazer. “That’s universal.”


With two new businesses and a baby in a new home, they love inviting people visiting Israel to their home for Shabbat. “We want to show them that people can move to Israel and be successful,” said Lazer. “And we want them to realize that they can do it too.”




 

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