Almost 10,000 olim have made aliya so far in 2010, of whom 2,426 came from
English-speaking countries, according to data released by the Jewish Agency on
Tuesday. Each one has a unique story to tell.
Some, however, are more
unique than others.
Take Ian and Daniel Chesir-Teran, for example, an
observant gay couple from New Jersey and their three adopted black children –
Eli, Yonah and Tamar.
The Chesir-Terans made aliya last week through the
Jewish Agency in collaboration with Nefesh B’Nefesh, but unlike most
the members of this unusual family are no strangers in a strange land.
they’re already minor celebrities. Earlier this year they took part in
Israeli version of the reality TV show Wife Swap, which has members from
families with very different backgrounds trade places for two
“Channel 2 decided to air our episode immediately after we moved
to Israel,” Ian said, barely audible over the din of his young children
in the background, in an interview over the phone from his new home in
“Suddenly, we were on TV commercials all the time and have been
recognized on a daily basis in an overwhelmingly positive way.”
is a rabbinical student and lawyer. His partner, Daniel, 40, is a
Both wear kippot and observe Jewish rituals. The couple have been
15 years and decided to move to Israel permanently after a one-year
“We were living in Jerusalem last year as part of my
rabbinical training and we had a transformative year and experience,”
“When it came time to plan to come back to America we realized it would
difficult for us to do that, so we decided to make our move back to
It’s a place where we see ourselves being able to build our
Their aliya hasn’t been without sacrifices.
Ian said he
wants to continue his rabbinical studies but he has yet to find a place
would accept him.
He will have to moonlight as a lawyer to make ends
meet. Daniel will focus on raising the kids for the time being, but
resume lecturing on the university level, as he did in the US.
long and busy week Ian expressed his frustration with Israeli
its discrimination against same-sex couples.
“Just today we faced a
challenging situation where we tried to sign up for an HMO, but they
list us in the same way as they would a heterosexual couple. When I went
post office they gave me a separate registry, too.”
Asked if the red tape
and bias against gays has weakened his resolve to become part of Israeli
society, he said it had the opposite effect.
“If anything, this just
emboldens us to do more so that we are recognized by the government, not
for our own sakes – although certainly for our own sakes – but also for
lesbian and gay couples who make aliya. But there’s a lot of work that
needs to be done in Israel, just like in America.
We know that to receive
the blessings of aliya there is a responsibility to give back to the
What about the kids? Do they worry that their children, being
black, might suffer discrimination? Ian said he isn’t more or less
he would be in the US. Here, at least, all the other kids at school are
Community is a key word for the socially-minded Chesir-Terans.
For that reason they chose to move to Hanaton, home to a group of 20
which hopes to revitalize the only kibbutz in Israel officially
the Conservative movement.
“Our goal is to become members of the
kibbutz,” Ian said. “What excites us about moving to Hanaton is that
egalitarian, humanistic and pluralistic community and we hope to
Michael Kaplan’s line of work involves sending probes into outer
space, so moving from Boulder, Colorado, to Jerusalem must have been a
relatively easy endeavor.
Kaplan, 54, has a BSE in aerospace and physics
from Princeton, and an MSA in research and development management and an
electrical engineering, both from George Washington University. But he
term “rocket scientist” doesn’t accurately describe what he does.
more of a space-age planner and troubleshooter.
“I look at the priorities
of scientists and then try to line up the resources,” he said. “My job
is to lay
out the strategy, see where the research is going and solve problems.
example, if the spacecraft weighs too much, we look into how to make it
You could say I’m the front end business development person, but with an
extremely hi-tech job.”
Kaplan has been involved in several projects with
Boeing, NASA and the US defense establishment. He took part in the Star
project, the intercontinental ballistic missile defense system, and was
a team which put a proposal together for a radar to orbit Venus that
out its terrain.
One of the most interesting projects he worked on was
the possibility of sending a probe to Enceladus, one of Saturn’s several
“We believe it has an icy shell,” he said. “And a lot of people
believe there is a liquid ocean beneath and that it could even have
Up until last December Kaplan, who is divorced, had never set foot
in Israel. That month he came on a 20- day visit with one of his two
fell in love with the country. They toured Safed, Jerusalem and Ein
when he went back to his home in Boulder he longed to return.
though I was home in Boulder I felt I wasn’t really home,” he related.
going to meet my rabbi in the morning and I got up that day and decided I
make aliya. My rabbi said to me when we met, ‘Something has changed in
told her I had decided to make aliya, and she looked at me and said,
Jerusalem Syndrome,’” the mental illness which affects overexcited
the holy city.
Kaplan laughed at the remark, but just to be on the safe
side he came back in April to get a taste of everyday life. After his
visit he knew with certainty he would come back, this time for
Earlier this month Kaplan made aliya and things are looking up.
He’s staying with a friend in Jerusalem until he finds his own place.
he’s going to ulpan and has started dating someone.
Once he gets his
security clearance –probably before the end of the year – Kaplan will
Israel’s aerospace industry, and companies are lining up to hire
“Nefesh B’Nefesh has this amazing processing procedure. They got me
in touch with a retired IAF pilot, Dani Grossman, and he said Israel
he said. “I was discovering I was in demand: Both Elbit and Israel
Industries are interested in me.”
One family may have set a new record
for aliya when it arrived on Tuesday at Ben-Gurion Airport: Four
kin got off the plane, all having decided to move to Israel
Amelia Glazer, the matriarch, is 94 years old. Born in New
York, she had never left the United States and only recently received
Her grandparents came to the US in the mid-1800s from
Her daughter, Joan, 63, and son-inlaw Elizer Entel, 64,
accompanied her with their daughter, Chana, 34, and her husband Yitzi
35, and the Wurtzels’ four daughters ages 10, six, five and one. They
chosen Ramat Beit Shemesh as their home.
The family, less than four days
in the country, was unable to answer questions before the paper went to