Most people who move to Israel at the age of 58 would probably be considering
early retirement. But David Rivlin, who made aliya with his wife, Fran, almost
two years ago, has no intention of sitting back and doing nothing, or simply
volunteering as many do.
“I would like to be able to use my skills and
experience for the benefit of the Israeli economy,” says the Dublin-born Rivlin,
who studied engineering science and had a peripatetic career, ultimately
specializing in general management of fast-moving consumer goods.
the initial six months, in which he and his wife took time out to relax and
enjoy living in Israel – the 11th country in which they’ve lived – he is now
seriously job-hunting, using all of the most up-to-date techniques: online
recruitment sites, contacting head-hunters at the highest levels, and
networking, in the hope of finding the perfect job.
confident,” he says.
Most importantly he has realized that having good
Hebrew is essential, especially at the level at which he wants to operate, so he
is throwing himself into learning the language.
“It’s probably been the
most difficult thing,” he says. “I would say that at this age, learning the
language is a challenge.”
So far, he’s done a five-month ulpan course and
a summer course at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
understand more than I speak,” he says.
But he is used to new beginnings,
and compared to some of the other countries in which he’s lived, Israel is
relatively easy, he says. After working in the electronics industry for a few
years after graduating, he worked for several beer production companies and had
to live in many countries for extended periods.
“I was general manager of
a beer production plant in Angola, brewery manger in St. Petersburg, and I built
a plant in Tashkent,” he says. He and his wife have also lived in Uzbekistan,
South America and Malawi, as well as several European countries. So aliya is an
easy ride, especially as they have had an apartment in Ra’anana for some years
and have visited often.
“I’d heard terrible things about the bureaucracy
once one became an oleh
, but we found it relatively easy,” he says.
three children were always independent growing up, going to a Jewish boarding
school in the UK from the age of nine and traveling out to exotic destinations
during vacations. Being here without them is difficult at times, but
keeping in touch is not the way it was when he and his wife first went overseas
“We used to make a three-minute call to our parents once a
week,” he recalls. Today, with instant communication and Skype, separation and
distance are not the problems they used to be.
“Getting back to Britain
is not a major issue, either,” he says. “We are an international family, and we
all get itchy if we’re not on an airplane every month or so.”
children are now all successful professionals, and none has plans to come here –
“They have all done well, and we are proud of their achievements,”
He has found the organization Gvahim very helpful and went
through one of its programs for several months soon after arriving. Gvahim, an
independent nonprofit, was established to help highly qualified professionals
find appropriate work.
“The people who are helped by Gvahim are usually
successful people who have given up careers to come here,” he explains. “It’s
the opposite of the brain drain, and in Gvahim it’s called ‘brain gain.’ The
organization helps with training, networking and placement tools.”
devotes some of his time to fund-raising for the organization, which he believes
is doing a great job for immigrants like him.
While much of the day is
spent in the pursuit of work, he has also found time to get involved in
Esravision, the community television program put out by Esra (English Speaking
Residents Association). Filming has always been a hobby, so he was happy to use
these skills in helping to put out several programs.
He and his wife have
also spent some of their free time traveling around the country, and enjoy
eating out. They have made many friends and have no regrets.
several words of advice for other immigrants who find themselves in a situation
similar to his: “When the initial elation wears off, the reality of living here
sets in, and you may be tempted to go back if things are tough. You have to sit
down and remind yourself why you came in the first place.”
strongly advises anyone contemplating aliya to do their planning before they
“We were prepared for all eventualities, including the fact that we
could live here without working so I could take my time looking for the ideal
job,” he says.
“I always wanted to live here,” he adds. “As a young man,
I wanted to study at the Technion, but I couldn’t afford it. Then I married and
the years passed. This is a dream come true for me.”