Jonathan Harrison 311.
(photo credit: GLORIA DEUTSCH)
After working in the aerospace and hitech industries for more than 30 years,
Jonathan Harrison made an abrupt career switch and for the last 10 has taught
nondual meditation. A graduate of Edinburgh University with degrees in
mathematics, he made aliya in 1969, and was snapped up by the government even
before he set foot in the country thanks to his aeronautical background.
Forty-something years later he looks back on the hard times and the good times,
and has no regrets about how things turned out.
LIFE BEFORE ALIYA
Manchester, Harrison studied in Scotland where he met his wife, Diana. They
married in 1965 and decided, a few years later, that they wanted to move
Like all potential immigrants from the UK, they visited
the Jewish Agency in London to find out about working.
“They were not
very helpful,” remembers Harrison. “They told me I would never find work as an
aerospace engineer. But as a last effort to help, they sent me to the embassy to
talk to the military attaché.
“As soon as the attaché heard what I did,
he said I already had a job and asked me to sign on the dotted line, then and
there. He said they would deal with security later.”
family, Jonathan, Diana and their baby son Reuven arrived at the airport at 1
a.m. and were picked up by an Israel Aircraft Industries van and taken to their
rented apartment in Lod. The same morning Jonathan underwent his security
interview and was plunged almost immediately into work, knowing only one word of
Hebrew, shalom.SETTLING IN
After one and a half years, they left Lod and
moved to Petah Tikva. Diana, who today is an art teacher, was teaching English
and the couple had two more children, in 1971 and 1974.LIFE SINCE ALIYA
“I was working, first on the Arava, the transport plane, and later the Kfir
After 11 years I left and went into hi-tech, working for an
American computer company,” says Harrison. He stayed with computers until 12
years ago when he decided that since he had always had an interest in psychology
and self-awareness he might switch careers.
In his study in the apartment
in Hod Hasharon where we have the interview, small brown cushions and colorful
mats are scattered around the floor, and on the wall are framed illustrated
calligraphic texts in Kan’ji. This is where Harrison teaches his
meditation to groups (and individuals) whose members sit either on chairs or
cross-legged on the floor. He also teaches outside the home, conducting
large groups of sometimes as many as 100 people in various schools for mind-body
medicine and coaching.
“I also receive many referrals from doctors,
psychologists and psychiatrists,” he says.
“They send me patients with
very serious illnesses who want to live more comfortably with them.”
teaches a form of meditation inspired by Indian, Tibetan and Chinese masters,
after having studied both on his own and at several retreats in the Swiss Alps.
Later he went to India to study in a Tibetan monastery for several
For many years he has also been a formidable practitioner of magic
and is a member of the Israel Magic Circle and also of the prestigious
International Brotherhood of Magicians. He tells me that the IDF had
three official magicians in its ranks, and he actually taught the magician of
Northern Command. He even sees a connection between the mental skills needed to
be a successful magician and a meditator.
And is if this were not enough
for one man he is also a folksinger and guitarist who has sung in Tel Aviv clubs
in exchange for free beer.
“The language was a major problem as
I don’t have flair for languages,” he says. “In the technical work I managed as
most of it was in English.” Now, many years later, he teaches only in Hebrew. He
says it took him five years to be able to understand the news on
“For me Hebrew is the language of emotion, English is the
language of accuracy and precision. I still express myself better in
BEST THING ABOUT ISRAEL
“There’s so much, that’s a very hard
question to answer,” he says. “Starting with the weather, for a Mancunian, it’s
a garden of Eden. Manchester’s a good place to leave. But it’s also not
being in a minority, having your children grow up in a Jewish state and not
feeling different from the others.”
ADVICE TO NEW IMMIGRANTS
realistic as you can and have both feet on the ground. You must get all the
facts right before you come and have a clear idea of the reality here. Be ready
to take knocks with the good stuff. It can be very tough here, as I discovered
in my first five years, although going back was never an option. As someone who
was a keen Scout I endorse their motto: Be prepared.”If you would like
to recommend someone for the Veterans section please write to email@example.com,
subject line veterans