the bermans 88 298.
(photo credit: RENA SHERBILL)
Though Josh and Tali Berman spent most of their lives in the United States, it is in Israel that they say they have finally found their home. Their mannerisms and language are more Anglo than Sabra, but they seem more connected to the land they have adopted than the one they were raised in.
"One of the things I love most about Israel is that while driving, you can almost always see someone praying to G-d. Whether it's to Hashem or Allah, people here have a higher G-d consciousness, spiritual consciousness; their eyes are always towards G-d.
"People here seem to know that much of life is out of our hands, it's less about what we make happen and more about what G-d has planned. Either you say Baruch Hashem or Inshalla, but the focus is the same," Tali says.
"We're both third-generation Americans; our parents and grandparents were all born in the United States," Tali says.
Josh grew up in Seattle, while Tali grew up in California, Kansas City and Philadelphia. Tali's maternal grandparents made aliya right after the Six Day War. Her grandfather passed away seven years ago, but her grandmother still lives in Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood.
Tali and Josh met in Israel in 1998, when Tali was living in Jerusalem and Josh was learning in Yeshivat Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion. They married here in December 1998, but six months later moved to the Berkshires.
"The purpose was always to return to Israel, but we spent four years in the States so I could receive certification as a teacher of autistic children," Tali explains.
Tali trained in the SonRise Program, a program that teaches parents the tools to eventually care for and teach their autistic children independently in the comforts of their home (for more information on this visit www.meirautism.org).
Josh was working as a project manager for new buildings for the Option Institute. In 2002, Anava was born.
They made aliya with Nefesh B'Nefesh in October 2003.
"We happened to come on a very publicized trip. When we landed Sharon, Netanyahu and Sharansky were all there to greet us. From that day I connected with my first client, who connected me with my second client, which led to my third client. Thank G-d, it just blossomed," Tali says.
They have a lot of appreciation for Nefesh B'Nefesh, saying that "they embody the saying 'give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats forever.'"
In order to surround themselves with a more religious environment and to enable Anava to be around other shomer Shabbat friends, they decided to move from Moshav Mata, their first home, to Moshav Aderet at the end of this past summer.
"We're happy in Aderet, but we're looking to buy land and build a house," Tali says. "We're still looking for that ideal place to build our home."
Josh works for an American Internet company called Tail of the Lion, which sells kitchen cabinets and other furniture over the Internet. His clients all live in America so he works from 7 p.m. till 2 a.m. Israel time.
Tali's schedule is split between traveling to different clients' homes in disparate communities and working on the fundraising and administrative aspects of the business. Thanks to their somewhat flexible schedules, she and Josh split a lot of the child-rearing duties.
Their Aderet community is a mix of both Israelis and Anglos, though their good friends are mostly Anglos.
They both attended ulpan when they first made aliya, though Tali came with a strong command of Hebrew thanks to a day school education and a year at Hebrew University during college.
Josh gets along fairly well, but works only with Americans, which impedes his ability to speak much Hebrew. Tali attributes her work with mostly Israeli clients as having vastly improved her vocabulary and comfort with the language.
They boast that Anava already knows words and songs in Hebrew that they don't.
"One day she'll come home with homework that we won't be able to help her with - it's a whole new world for them," Tali beams.
They consider themselves to be shomrei mitzvot, which entails keeping Shabbat and kashrut, but their ideal community would have to be open and diverse in addition to having a shomrei mitzvot population.
"I still feel like an immigrant but without feeling at all estranged from the general Israeli population," Josh says.
"I definitely feel more Israeli than American," says Tali, "but I would say I feel like an English-speaking Israeli, more immigrant than native."
"We have no regrets, we haven't looked back," Tali says, but adds that "it is very hard to be away from Josh's family. His parents don't get to see their grandkids that often and I see it as something that will only get harder with time."
Tali's two sisters already live in Israel and her older brother and his family are due to join them this summer, along with her parents the following year.
"We've been blessed with flexible schedules and salaries that allow us to be financially independent," Tali says. "We're not putting away savings or anything, but please G-d we will be able to soon."
Josh, who holds an MA in Education, hopes to ultimately combine his love of teaching with his love of the environment and teach people about sustainable building and community-supported agriculture. He would love to spark interest here in environmentally-responsible construction and efficient building.
Tali hopes to raise enough money to open up a center for her SonRise Program. Their joint goals are continuing to raise their children here and to find a community that is mindful religiously, environmentally, spiritually and communally conscious.
"We would also like to be able to build a home here that responsibly and efficiently utilizes the resources of this country," Tali says.