Arrivals: From New Jersey to Ra'anana

The walls of Sandy Kaye's Ra'anana home are covered with paintings she has collected over the years.

October 11, 2007 13:01
sandy kaye 88 224

sandy kaye 88 224. (photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)

Birthplace: New Jersey Aliya Date: June 2005 Occupation: Retired teacher Family Status: Widow The walls of Sandy Kaye's Ra'anana home are covered with paintings she has collected over the years, among them a small plaque from the synagogue she founded in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania thanking her for her work. "I was the rabbi for 10 years," she says. "My husband and I built a holiday home there and used to go almost every Shabbat. We couldn't afford a rabbi, so I used to do the services. Yes, reading Torah, davening, the calling-up - everything. No, I wouldn't say it was Orthodox, though we did buy a Sefer Torah. Growing up in New Jersey, I'd had a yeshiva education and had been active in Jewish education, and there was no one else in the community who could do it. Later on, when we had some money, we hired a rabbi and people said they liked it better when I did it." Now she attends services in an Orthodox shul and doesn't miss her stint as a rabbi. She followed her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren here and has almost nothing but good to say about her new country. FAMILY BACKGROUND All her antecedents were from Russia and Poland. "On my father's side, the family were hassidim. My grandfather on my mother's side was a dress designer - a wild, wonderful man who wanted us to know everything. He could sit until three in the morning with a math problem to make us figure it out. We lived in a small town - Belleville, New Jersey and on Friday we'd take buses and trains to go and stay with him in Brooklyn for Shabbat." LIFE BEFORE ALIYA "I used to teach language literacy in an inner-city school, and all my pupils were black. I loved them and they loved me. I was godmother to their babies, and I've lost count of the number of Sandys that were christened there. They used to look at my gold bangles and say, 'Dis be real?' and I'd say, 'Are you kidding, on a teacher's salary?' I drove a Cadillac and told them I'd won it in a raffle. They used to save me a parking place for when I arrived at the school." When her architect husband died three years ago ("He was the love of my life," she says), she decided she would make a new life in Israel. "As a child growing up in the States, Israel was always a great focus in our lives," she says. UPON ARRIVAL Sandy went to the absorption center and began the ulpan although she didn't really need it, having learned Hebrew as a girl. "I quickly saw that I wasn't going to be able to sit in class for five hours," she says. She rented an apartment and began looking for a permanent home. "I love Ra'anana. It's clean and full of flowers and greenery. If I didn't live in Ra'anana, I couldn't live in Israel." She soon found exactly the house she wanted and spent many months getting it right and setting up her belongings which arrived from America. ROUTINE "I haven't really got an established routine yet," she says. "I get up and do some work in the garden; I use the pool every day, to cool off and to do water exercise, and I also exercise in my basement on the treadmill. I wait and see how the day will shape up, who will call and what comes up." She sometimes drives over to Kibbutz Ga'ash for a round of golf and enjoys learning Torah with Rabbi Stewart Weiss once a week. "We are about 30 women who meet at a nice restaurant in Ra'anana and have a very interesting discussion led by Rabbi Weiss," she says. Sometimes she goes to the Esra garden club and has offered her services as a volunteer English coach to different schools in the area. She would like to be more involved in politics and is feeling her way. Her son took her to the inaugural meeting of the Likud English-speakers division at which MK Reuven Rivlin spoke and where she helped with the refreshments. "I met Binyamin Netanyahu when he was in the States, and I was impressed with him. He makes us look good to the world. I'm not 100 percent sold on him, but I do know that we need to change the government. I've always been political and I'm slowly learning the politics of this country." She concedes that she still needs more to fill her time. "But I'll find it," she says cheerfully. "I don't feel sorry for myself." LIVING ENVIRONMENT Home is a pleasant semi-detached villa at the end of a mews in a quiet area. Everything in it came from the States and she has made it comfortable and attractive. CIRCLE Luckily she has a sister who has lived here for many years, and she has joined her circle of friends but is also building up her own, "a friend here, a friend there." "Most of my friends live in Florida now and I'm going to visit them soon, but I have to concentrate on building a life here," she says. FINANCES "I'm comfortable." FAITH "I believe with all my heart and soul in God and I'm very disappointed to see the lack of Yiddishkeit in Israel. I would say this is my biggest disappointment as an immigrant. Back in the US on Rosh Hashana, you would walk to shul and it's so nice to see everyone dressed up for Yomtov. Here I don't see it at all. The synagogue isn't full and the bikes on the streets on Yom Kippur really upset me." IDENTIFICATION "I'm a Jew, above everything." LANGUAGE Sandy speaks Hebrew with an accent you could cut with a knife. PLANS FOR THE FUTURE "I'm going to learn to fly and get a pilot's license. And I want to get active in this country. I see so much injustice. Where I come from, a man is innocent until proven guilty and here it seems to be the opposite. And I would like to have someone to love." To propose an immigrant for an 'Arrivals' profile, please send a one paragraph e-mail to:

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