gershon reed 88 298.
(photo credit: Yocheved Miriam Russo)
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio
Date of Aliyah: March 4, 2002
Occupation: Mechanical Engineer
Family Status: Newlywed
'My mother was blown to Israel in 1993," says Gershon Reed. "She was in a women's club that had reservations to visit Israel, but then Hurricane Andrew hit, and my mother lost everything. Because of all the damage, the club considered canceling the trip, but then decided they may as well come. When my mother got here, she just loved it, so she just stayed. She didn't have anything to pack or ship."
Once here, Reed's mother - Chaya Solomons of Jerusalem - set out to convince Gershon to come. "She nudniked me for almost 10 years," he says. "But I had no interest at all.
"Then, starting in 2000, I spent two years working on a huge engineering project in Louisiana. After that, I seriously needed a vacation. And there was my mother, 'So come to Israel!' So I finally gave in, but just for two months.
"Israel is the place I fought against coming to all my life, but now that I'm here, I can't bear to leave."
Both sets of grandparents came from Russia in the early 1900s. "Even though my ancestors left long ago, I'm comfortable with that culture."
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Reed has one brother in the US. "They just love kids - they have nine!" After high school, Reed joined the navy, and later went to Ohio State University where he earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.
"My ticket to Israel was for March 1, 2002, but I almost didn't make it," Reed says. "On the first leg of the flight, from Louisiana to Toronto, the plane damaged the landing gear on takeoff. When you see the guys from the cockpit going down hatches under the plane, you get a little worried. We were dumping fuel, people in the tower were peering at us with binoculars. On the ground, there were fleets of rescue trucks and firemen. We finally landed okay, but after all that, I was seriously considering taking the next bus back to Louisiana.
"I went outside the terminal, stood there, looking at both signs - one was to the international terminal, the other to the bus station. I was trying to make up my mind when I felt a tap on my shoulder. There was this beautiful girl. 'Could you tell me where the international terminal is?' she said. I pointed to the sign, then asked, 'Where are you going?' She said, 'Oh, I'm going to Tel Aviv.' And I said, 'Wow! So am I!' We talked for hours, then changed our seats to sit together. She was a married lady, but just being with her put my mind at ease.
"On the second day in Jerusalem I wanted to go to the Kotel. I'm secular, but that was the most powerful experience of my life. We got there, I put on a kippa, walked down and put my hand on that wall. Somehow I understood that this wall had been here for 2,000 years. It was built by my ancestors, and then I knew that now, finally, I was home.
"The next day, I went to the Interior Ministry and made aliya."
"I flew back on my regular return ticket. I advertised all my stuff in the newspaper, sold my washer, dryer, everything I could, and gave away the rest. I came back - with two suitcases - on June 1, 2002.
"I stayed with my mother in Jerusalem, and met one of my best friends, Maimon Koor. I'm a fabulous cook - I make my own recipes, modify others to my taste. So during my two months, when I was cooking for my mom and her friends, I discovered Mahaneh Yehuda [market in Jerusalem]. I was absolutely in heaven. One night I made a homemade pasta sauce, all the local spices, and my mom's friend said, 'You ought to sell this recipe!'
"So I talked to Maimon, and my company - Holy Spice - was born. I packaged my own herb mixtures and sold them on the Internet. People were buying them like crazy. My recipe for 'za'atar chicken' was on the bottles. It's great."
Reed worked for IDT for two and a half years. "It was a great job, I loved the camaraderie. But then I began thinking it was time to get back into my own field. I wanted to live down South, so I answered an ad that read, 'Desperately seeking energetic mechanical engineer, mother tongue English.' That was me! The ad was from the best company in the world, VQC. I faxed in my CV, and I've been with them for just over a year. I love it.
"Making the transition from an American mentality to the Israeli mind-set was very difficult. There are lots of cultural differences. These guys really helped me adjust. They couldn't have been better."
Gershon recently married Anna, a Russian immigrant, whom he met when getting a massage at a local hotel. The next week, he was browsing on J-Date, saw her picture, and contacted her. They are expecting their first child.
Reed works on two different work sites. "On the days I commute to Haifa, I get up at 4 a.m., take the 5:34 train out of Beersheba and am at my desk by 8:15. Coming home, I take the 4 p.m. train and I'm home at about 7.
"On alternate days, I work out of Kiryat Gat, so I get up at 5 a.m., leave the house at 6:30, and drive. I'm at work by 7:15. I work five days a week, not Fridays. On Friday mornings, I go to the Beersheba shouk, and then cook something fabulous for Friday night dinner with friends."
"I'm not in overdraft. At the end of my first year with VQC, I got a two-month salary bonus for excellence in customer satisfaction. That really helped."
Reed currently lives in an apartment in Ramot, one of Beersheba's newer and more elegant residential areas. It's a large ground-floor, one-bedroom apartment with all the amenities, including free wireless Internet and cable TV. "It has one other thing that's even more valuable," Reed says. "Parking. I park right outside my door. In Jerusalem, I had to drive around for a half hour to find a place. I love Beersheba."
The couple recently purchased a new home to house their growing family.
"I was on a nuclear sub in the US Navy. But when I came here, I was too old. The IDF didn't want me."
"I'm an American Israeli. Or maybe an Israeli American. It depends."
"I'm a secular Zionist. I believe all the Jews in the world need to come home to Israel. But I believe in Friday night Kiddush and having a nice Seder. I light the hanukkia, and during the High Holy Days, I read the siddur. I recognize I'm a Jew. I know what my roots are."
"I have a lot of Israeli friends, a lot of Russian friends."
"Here in Beersheba, no one speaks English, so it was sink or swim. I'm happy that Hebrew was forced on me here. It's made me part of the local culture."
"I want to continue working for VQC, and advance within the company. I'd like to buy a nice villa and fill it up with kids."
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