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'You can walk through a door a thousand times, but until you're ready, you'll never see what's on the other side" is the way that Avraham Zimberg describes how the events in his life have all fallen into place.
His wife Ruth agrees with him. "Even meeting each other at a low point in our lives was beshert. I see God's hand in everything" she says with a smile.
For Ruth (54), this is the third time around she's attempting aliya. As Ruth Balofsky, she came to Israel in 1976 with her late husband Dr. Jay Balofsky and baby son. They spent a year at Moshav Elazar in Gush Etzion. Things did not work out for them, so they returned to Toronto, where two more sons were born. They tried aliya again in 1986, but after a few months, her husband died suddenly, aged only 36. Not wishing to be a single mother here without any family support, she returned to Toronto but always with the hope that one day Israel would be her home. In 2001 she came with Avraham and prays that this time, it's forever.
Avraham (64) went to Toronto from Michigan (he grew up in Detroit) at the request of a single friend who was hoping to find a "shidduch" there. As Avraham's second wife had just passed away after only a year of marriage, he acquiesced. With his friend, he attended a luncheon organized by The Orthodox Connection. He met Ruth, who coincidentally had known his late wife. It certainly felt like fate.
Avraham has five adult children still in the States whose professions include a radiation oncologist, a film producer, cosmetologist, entrepreneur and student. He was, and still is, both a podiatrist and a life skills coach, specializing in ADD/HD for adults and teens. He is highly qualified and practises in these diverse areas.
Ruth trained as an elementary school teacher with a musical specialty.
Avraham has a fully-equipped podiatry clinic in his house and also does home visits. He fits in his ADD clients between patients, and has a unique way of coaching them. "Several of my family members have ADD, so I understand it very well.
You know Attention Deficit is really a misnomer. The word deficitâ€š means a lack of. ADDers pay attention to everything. Therefore ADD is actually a distraction challenge."
The word disorder is unfortunate, according to Avraham, as the more intelligent and creative you are, the more likely you are to have ADD. While trying to get established on arrival, he sometimes worked as a carpenter and handyman.
"I got an excellent training as a carpenter from my father, who had learned from his father. My grandfather was a master craftsman who built the Petosky Synagogue in Detroit."
Ruth is also multi-talented, teaches English, and is the Israeli representative for UK-based "Jolly Learning," a multisensory program for English reading and writing skills using phonics. She also freelances articles for the Jerusalem Post's youth magazines.
Avraham's day begins with prayer at 7 a.m.. He sees his Israeli patients during the day and evenings. At nights he coaches clients in Israel, the USA and Canada by telephone at hours convenient to them.
Ruth teaches English four mornings a week at Kiryat Shearim, a residential school for junior high at-risk teenagers. The afternoons and evenings are devoted to her private students, Jolly Phonics and writing.
Ruth had a rabbi, originally from Toronto, who had a place in Beit Shemesh and offered it to the couple to stay in when they came on a two-week pilot trip. They really loved the area because it is centrally located, and they found a warm, caring community which gave them an instant circle of friends.
Their Beit Shemesh 4-bedroom cottage is in Givat Savyon. A large garden borders two sides of their house, where they grow tomatoes, melons, peppers and eggplant through an organic intensive gardening method whereby the root systems grow deeply. They also have many fruit trees: apples, mango, oranges, almonds, pomegranate, sweeties, clementine and avocado. Both share in the work as they do in cooking the fruits of their labor. "Avraham is a gourmet cook," his wife confides.
Apart from close Israeli friends, who are neighbors, most are Anglos whom they met at their synagogue Etz Chaim. Ruth also maintains friendships from her time at Elazar.
Although now fully observant, they both came from Conservative backgrounds, what Avraham describes as "Conservadox". They don't like labels, but identify themselves as Torah Observant.
"We're managing," Avraham smiles. Obviously, with so many irons in the fire, they work very hard to do so and they are grateful for what they have achieved "with God's help."
"You need to be multifaceted to make a living here," he explains with a smile.
"Mine have just come to fruition," Ruth says. She hoped her sons would follow her to Israel and now they have. Ron is married and living in Jerusalem. His wife Shoshanna just gave birth to their first child.
Meir and his wife Ahuva are parents of their own three children and are dorm parents for students in the oneyear program at Bar-Ilan University; Avri, with his wife Lorien and daughter, have arrived with Nefesh b'Nefesh and he has already found work. So with their two dogs Simcha and Leila completing the family, she feels her plans have been fulfilled.
Avraham looks forward to all of his children visiting the family in Israel. Someday he'd love to run a bed and breakfast combining his love of both cooking and gardening. He'd also like some goats to make his own cheese. But if they just continue in their harmonious lives, "dayenu," they say, that will be enough.
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