In 1969, long before chartered flights and Nefesh B’Nefesh, 21-year-old Osnat Sussman from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, journeyed to her new life in Israel aboard the Greek cruise ship Queen Anna Maria.
No hordes of well-wishers greeted her upon arrival, but the single young woman came ashore after 16 days with many new friends among the other immigrants on the boat. “It was prime aliya time; things were really hopping in Israel after 1967,” she says.
Some of those new acquaintances provided her with temporary lodgings in Jerusalem, and she had the opportunity to get reacquainted with her grandfather, who had made aliya in 1966 to Kiryat Sanz in Netanya.
“We developed a close relationship even though he only spoke Yiddish. I visited him as often as I could and we corresponded on postcards in Yiddish,” she says.
Hebrew was the more important language to perfect, so she supplemented her yeshiva Hebrew with seven months of work-study at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in the Beit She’an valley.
Though she had told her parents that she was only trying Israel for a year, “When they saw how happy I was here, they were very supportive of my staying,” she says. In fact, the Sussmans flew over in 1970 to help their daughter move into a Jerusalem apartment with two roommates.
That summer on a trek in Tiberias, she met Alan Goldman, whose family had relocated from New York to Jerusalem several years earlier. They married in August 1971 and settled in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood near his parents.
“He was finishing school and I became a mother a year later,” says Goldman.
The couple has four grown sons and “lots of grandchildren.”
When her youngest son began preschool, she started studying at Midreshet Rachel V’Chaya, and has been teaching beginners’ Prophets and Hebrew grammar there for many years.
“I’m a passionate teacher. I love finding a way to explain things in a clear and interesting way so my students acquire the skills necessary for translating text,” she says.
In 2011, Goldman became a certified yoga instructor following three years of study. She still gives yoga classes in a Jerusalem studio. Based on this experience, she established a personal coaching practice for women, which she calls Inner Fitness Training: Building Skills for Good Intimacy (http://innerfitnesstraining.weebly.com).
“I understand about being attuned to your body and this is what I teach people,” she says. “Intimacy training is based on yoga; you have to be aware of your body and pelvic area in order to keep them fit. Doing yoga helps one to understand that you can make changes at any stage in your life if you are motivated.”
At first she acquired clients through referrals from sex therapists and premarital counselors in the Orthodox community. Now she wants to reach a wider market by “taking intimacy training out of the realm of solving a problem and into helping people gain appropriate skills to enhance their intimate life.” She would like to branch out also to women who are not Orthodox.
She says she would be happy to coach couples as well.
Goldman considers her coaching sessions a perfect gift for a bride (“Before marriage it can put you on the right track to connecting with your body”) or a selfcare treat for a long-married woman.
“It just makes sense to get some fine-tuning, to understand using your breath, body and movement, to become more flexible and relaxed. I like making this simple and attainable.”
She works in the client’s home or over Skype, so her clientele is not limited to Israel.
“I find it very effective and it gives people from outside of Israel an opportunity to work with me even though it’s not an in-person session,” she says. “I also teach online Bible textual skills to those interested in developing their independent learning. My teaching philosophy is this: if the approach is clear and simple, and taught with enthusiasm, it motivates students and they can learn.”
Goldman’s favorite talmudic aphorism is mikol m’lamdai hiskalti (From all my teachers I have learned).
“I can learn from anybody,” says Goldman, who moved to Elazar in Gush Etzion with her husband in 2006 after 35 years in Bayit Vegan.
“We lived in a very small apartment and the neighborhood had changed. When the kids moved out we wanted a different house, and we have a son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren living in Elazar, so that was reason enough,” she explains.
“We love it here. The community is great and the people are wonderful. We love the open spaces, and the ride to Jerusalem is a pure pleasure with the hills and the views.”
Coming from New York, Goldman appreciates Israelis’ “spunk and initiative.”
“They have a lot of spirit and innovation here, and I love being part of that,” she says. “I like the informality and friendliness of Israel, but I would really like to see more acceptance and less categorization.
I’d like to see us more flowing together as a people, enjoying our differences and diversity.”
Goldman’s mother died at an early age and she considers her mother-in-law her personal role model.
“She is one of the major reasons her family made aliya in 1967. She is open to change and is always involved in something interesting and worthwhile.
When we got married she decided to open a gemah [free loan fund] for bridal gowns, and later on she collected money to buy chickens for the needy. She started a tape library and then a book library in her building’s shelter, which she still runs. She inspires me nonstop by the way she’s evolving constantly, and she has always treated me like a daughter. She and my father-in-law make a beautiful couple.”
For a short time, Goldman volunteered as a medical clown in the geriatric department at Misgav Ladach Hospital in Jerusalem. Now some of her spare time is occupied with making a multi- DVD photographic biography of her father, who died last year at age 95.
Osnat and Alan Goldman enjoy adventurous vacations, having trekked in all kinds of weather in countries including Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka.
“We like doing things off the beaten track,” she says. “People wonder why we don’t take usual vacations, but we like adventure and enjoy roughing it.”