Less than a year ago, Carole Bishop left York in the north of England and came
to live in Israel. She had become Jewish through a Reform conversion seven years
For her partner of 16 years, Tammy, moving here was completely
natural, as she is an Israeli. For Carole, however, it has been something of a
But she is riding the storm well and is sure she will
eventually feel completely at home.
Helping to make the absorption easier
is the fact that she works for Roy Ben-Shlomo, whose Executive Butlers company
is going from strength to strength. What started out as a cleaning service has
expanded to include many other helpful activities like walking dogs, ironing,
mending, and being available to help out at dinner parties with serving and
Carole fits in well, being one of his star cleaners and also
a qualified acupuncturist.
“No, I don’t feel the cleaning is beneath me,”
she says. “It’s satisfying, especially after the stressful work I used to do
with drug addiction in the UK. It’s rather nice to have a job that’s
physical, not emotional.”
Still, with a degree in psychology from
Newcastle University and a graduate diploma in addiction studies, cleaning homes
for Israeli women must have its downside.
“Because Roy takes such pride
in his company, he doesn’t accept just anyone to work for him, so I’m pleased
that he considered me up to scratch,” she says diplomatically.
Tammy, who had moved to England, when they were introduced by mutual friends.
They decided they would live their life together in England, at least until
Carole’s son from a previous relationship was old enough. Also, Tammy spoke
English well, while Carole’s Hebrew was – and is – non-existent.
have two little girls, both born through AID (Artificial Insemination by Donor),
the older seven, the younger three.
Carole converted when Tammy made it
clear she wanted to raise their children Jewish. They found the Sinai Reform
Synagogue in Leeds to be an amazing and helpful community.
daughter came with me to the mikve [ritual bath] to complete my conversion,”
When Carol’s son Jesse turned 20, they decided they would
move the family to Israel, and made aliya through the Jewish Agency.
journey from York to Ramat Gan took three days,” says Carole.
El Al, stayed in Jerusalem and had a moving ceremony at the Western Wall with
their group of 20 or so new immigrants.
The next day, a taxi deposited
them in the Ramat Gan house they had already rented in England, which they chose
from videos sent over by a friend.
The decision to live in Ramat Gan was
governed by their choice of school for their two daughters.
“We wanted to
educate them at an anthroposophic school, of which there are several, and we
decided that whichever one would take us, that was where we would live,”
These schools are based on the philosophy of Austrian
thinker Rudolf Steiner and the studies are interdisciplinary, combining
practical, artistic and conceptual elements.
“They have two hours of
formal learning a day and the rest is hands-on art and crafts with no homework,”
explains Carole. “We both felt it was the right environment for our
The girls have adapted well to living in Israel, and both
speak Hebrew fluently.
Tammy has spoken to them in her native tongue
since they were babies, but sadly none of it rubbed off on Carole.
home in the UK, her brother and sister were supportive of her unusual life
change and decision to move many miles away.
“They are happy for me,” she
The two women quickly went out and bought secondhand furniture for
their new home and a car which they share. They also both have their own bicycle
for getting around, which flew with them on the plane.
found work with Executive Butlers while Tammy, who is a qualified nurse, began
working for Shahal, a private emergency nursing service.
She is a
qualified cardiac nurse and can read EKGs that the patients send to her through
the computer. On the basis of these she decides whether to send an ambulance or
Carol considered working in a drug addiction clinic when she first
arrived but found that without Hebrew, she had no chance. For the cleaning job,
no linguistic talent was necessary.
But now that she has settled down
here and is a little more used to Israeli ways, she will soon start working one
day a week at an acupuncture clinic that specializes in fertility problems. The
lack of Hebrew will not be a problem for this particular job.
Tel Aviv society open and accepting of them as a lesbian couple, and are very
For the future, Carole desperately wants to learn Hebrew and
speak it as well as her daughters.
“I’ve decided the only way I am going
to learn the language is if I take a private teacher,” she says. “With working
shifts and moving around so much, I can’t commit to ulpan.”
“I want to be
a part of Israeli society,” she says. “I live here but I don’t feel fully part
of Israel yet.”