Avi Marcovitz 88 298.
(photo credit: Meredith Price)
'There's only one way to come to Israel," says Dr. Avi Marcovitz, stretching out a pair of long legs and crossing his rollerblades. "Just do it."
If you hesitate and try to plan every detail, it will simply never happen, he adds.
"My advice to anyone who wants to make aliya is to come with enough money to survive the first year without working, and to set goals prior to arrival."
Single, successful and self-reliant, Marcovitz says that following his own pragmatic advice has made the transition relatively smooth and simple.
Born in Toronto, Marcovitz grew up in Pittsburgh. He attended the University of Florida and then went into business.
"I was working in mergers and acquisitions, but after I went on March of the Living, I had an epiphany that maybe business was not for me," says Marcovitz. He finished a master's degree in administration and education, and then completed a doctorate in organizational leadership at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
"It was very challenging to finish my doctorate while I was working as the principal of a school," says Marcovitz, who moved from Florida to Arizona in order to fill the position. "After my second year in Arizona, I thought about coming to Israel to write my doctorate, but decided instead to go back to Florida."
In June of 2005, Marcovitz again contemplated his move to Israel. And this time, within a few months, he was here. On September 19, 2005, Marcovitz landed in Israel with three bags and enough financial security to do volunteer work and explore his options before rushing into a job.
The son of a rabbi, Marcovitz is one of five children. His grandparents came to the United States from Poland, Russia and the Ukraine around the turn of the 20th century. His mom's brother lives in Israel and has a large family, so Marcovitz says he spends time with many cousins here. His parents and one brother are still in Florida, while his two sisters settled in New York and one brother makes his home in Pittsburgh.
"We have a lot of diversity in the family. I have some very religious family members, and others who are secular. I have a nephew who married a non-Jew, but everyone is very respectful and accepting of each other," says Marcovitz. "No matter what every individual chooses, we are all family. I wish the State of Israel could learn from our example."
For Marcovitz, employment has two elements: his real job and his passion. In the United States, he volunteered for Best Buddies, an organization that fosters friendships between the intellectually disabled and fully functioning people.
"Best Buddies creates friendships that benefit both sides of the relationship," says Marcovitz. "They have branches all over the world, and I wanted to bring one to Israel, but it took a lot of persistence to make it happen."
Marcovitz begins his new job in Jerusalem this fall, and will be charged with establishing the first Best Buddies branch in Israel. He is also involved in creating a new magazine, Today's Israel, designed to cover cultural events and positive elements in contemporary Israeli society.
"Outside Israel, a lot of people think we live in tents and ride camels. I want to change that perspective."
Just a few meters away from Shouk Hacarmel on Rehov Allenby in the heart of Tel Aviv, Marcovitz rents a fully-furnished, newly-renovated apartment on a month to month basis.
"I love my mirpeset (porch)," he says. "It took me a while to figure out why they're so large here, and then I realized that it's because the government doesn't tax on porch space."
Despite the Israeli tendency to take things easy, Marcovitz says that having a routine has kept him focused and helped him adjust. At 6:30 a.m., he starts his day with a long run and a workout session at the gym.
Then he heads to ulpan Gordon from 8:15 until 12:45. From 1 p.m. until around 10 in the evening, he does volunteer work.
"My schedule for the last year has focused on finding the area of work I want to go into," says Marcovitz. "It's been hectic."
"No matter what I'm doing, the majority of my day is spent on rollerblades," says Marcovitz, who claims that he's faster than any other taxi, bus or moped in the city. On Tuesday evenings, he sometimes joins the Tel Aviv Rollers as they rollerblade through the city in packs of hundreds.
"I enjoy going to theater festivals, hiking, canoeing, skiing, outdoor concerts and the beach," says Marcovitz. "I also like to go to Rothschild [Boulevard] on a sunny day and just read a book."
"I have a good friend who was a former teacher at the school I principled who lives in Beit Shemesh, and I have friends in cities across Israel, like Gezer and Jerusalem," says Marcovitz. "Tel Aviv has been more challenging, but I've met a few people at ulpan, and even ran into an old friend whom I haven't seen in 17 years."
Now that he's found secure employment, Marcovitz says he plans on spending more time making friends and developing his social life.
"When I came to Israel years ago for the first time, you needed Hebrew to communicate," says Marcovitz. "Now, it's no longer necessary."
Nevertheless, despite working in English, Marcovitz is trying to improve his written Hebrew.
"My spoken Hebrew is pretty good, but I'd like to increase my vocabulary and get better at grammar." Aside from native English, Marcovitz speaks what he describes as "baby Russian" thanks to some exposure from his grandparents.
"I grew up in a traditional, Conservative home," says Marcovitz, who describes himself now as a modern, observant Jew. But he finds it challenging to wear a kippa in Israel because of the judgmental mentality some of the secular women have. "I've felt like women I've gone on dates with were looking down on me here because I wear a kippa and am observant. No matter what my personal beliefs may be, I'm an open and accepting person who never judges others."
For Marcovitz, who already holds citizenship in both Canada and the United States and will soon become an Israeli citizen, nationality is connected to a person's willingness to fight for a country. He says that if, God forbid, there were a war either in Israel or in the United States, he would take up arms for both. "Being born in Canada, I still have my Canadian pride, too," says Marcovitz.
"I hope my new ventures with Best Buddies and my magazine, Today's Israel, will be successful," says Marcovitz. "My dream is to spread the word about the hidden treasures of Tel Aviv and give Israel some much-needed positive press."
In the short term, Marcovitz says he plans to take a ski trip this year to either Turkey or Slovakia; in the long term, he would like to meet the right woman, get married and have children. "At this point, I'm taking things one day at a time, and whatever happens, happens."
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