UK-born oleh now guides thousands in moving to Israel

UK-born Dov Newmark, now living in Modi'in, has helped guide more than 6,000 people on their journey home to Israel, a country where they can live out their Zionist dreams.

 FRIENDLY FACE, helping hand.  (photo credit: Courtesy Dov Newmark)
FRIENDLY FACE, helping hand.
(photo credit: Courtesy Dov Newmark)

“I always knew you were going to make aliyah, I just did not know exactly when.” These were the words that Dov Newmark’s late mother said to him when he announced his official plan to move to Israel with his young family. No statement could have been truer.

When Newmark made aliyah 15 years ago, accompanied by his wife and children, he was just like a lot of Israel’s newest arrivals. He was excited to begin this next chapter, building a new life in his new country – a feeling that has not changed since that memorable day.

However, he could not have known back then how much he would shape the lives of countless other olim hadashim (new immigrants), all making that same move over the coming decades.

In short, Newmark has helped guide more than 6,000 people on their journey home to Israel, a country where they can live out their Zionist dreams.

Born in East London to a traditional Jewish family, and raised in Essex, Newmark grew up with strong religious and cultural values. He was introduced to the Zionist youth movement Bnei Akiva shortly after his bar mitzvah, and came to Israel for the first time at 16. 

 FETING HIS departure from NBN’s Tel Aviv hub, with olim who have become lifelong friends. (L to R) Lev Pedro, Pepe Cherem, Talia Haviv.  (credit: Courtesy Dov Newmark)
FETING HIS departure from NBN’s Tel Aviv hub, with olim who have become lifelong friends. (L to R) Lev Pedro, Pepe Cherem, Talia Haviv. (credit: Courtesy Dov Newmark)

“Since then, Israel has always been the love of my life,” Newmark said. “I knew one day that we would end up living in Israel,” he added.

Lifelong dream turned into reality

Newmark married at age 27. One of the first things he discussed while going through the dating process was his desire to make aliyah. He knew the woman he would marry would also have to want to build a life and raise a family in Israel. Happily, he found his perfect match in more ways than one with his wife, Ayala.

Moving to Israel was always part of their plan, but timing was not always on their side. “When I was ready to make aliyah, my wife was not ready. When she was ready, I wasn’t. We finally took the leap when our oldest daughter was in secondary school,” he recounted. 

The main factor that helped the Newmark family take the leap and make aliyah was the lack of Modern Orthodox Jewish education in their community. There was one school, which his wife and his mother-in-law had attended, but ultimately this was not enough. So they decided to move to Israel for the sake of their daughters’ Jewish education.

Though all three daughters – Eliana, 27; Shifra, 25; and Limor, 20 – were born in the United Kingdom, they fully embraced their lives in Israel, which each saw as her homeland. All three daughters have served the state of Israel through national service – Eliana and Shifra as B'not Sherut, and Limor, currently serving in Israel's Navy.

And so, on July 10, 2008, the family boarded a flight to Israel. They settled in Modi’in. After a few months of networking, Newmark found himself helping Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) to build resources to enable them to better understand the Israeli bureaucratic systems. He soon became the organization’s director of UK aliyah, acting as a guiding light to all those taking the same steps as his own family.

He believed in the mission of the organization and wanted to contribute in any way he could to help improve and enhance the aliyah process for all involved. Shortly before the pandemic, Newmark was given the opportunity to run NBN’s Tel Aviv hub, established as a co-working community space where young people, without a family, professional, or any kind of network, could meet and form their own community.

The hope was that the center would foster a community that would keep new olim in Israel and deter them from leaving when difficulties arose.

“My role was very much to be that fatherly figure, that shoulder to cry on,” Newmark stated with pride. “I wanted to help olim feel like they are part of a community.”

So, in October 2021, when pre-pandemic life had returned, the first of many Friday night Shabbat dinners was arranged, generously funded by the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) of New York.

Newmark not only proved to be an extraordinary host, but he took the opportunity to highlight other notable olim and their ventures at every dinner. Typically hosting 70 people per dinner, Newmark always invited a guest speaker who had followed in his footsteps. He used the opportunity to show all those in attendance that successful aliyah has many faces and that everyone’s journey was unique to them.

Making a house a home via NBN’s Tel Aviv hub

On a normal day at the hub, Newmark would walk around and catch up with people there, forming relationships which would often turn into enduring friendships outside of the organization. He was all things to all people, providing comic relief and mental health support, among other things, to those around him. He could often be found playing Rummikub or backgammon or just sitting on the balcony, soaking up the sun with his friends there. 

NEWMARK’S IMPACT has been immense. Adrienne Sholzberg, 40, moved to Israel from Montreal, Canada, on December 30, 2015. She’s a regular at the Tel Aviv hub and is in daily contact with Newmark. “Dov made my experience working at the hub incredibly special. I could always count on him to greet me with open arms, be supportive when things weren’t going well, and celebrate work or life accomplishments,” she told the Magazine. “He was always there with a smile and happy to do what he could to make your experience with NBN, living in Israel, and in life in general, that much happier.”

She’s just one of many who has forged close friendships through Newmark’s guidance and community building skills. Jose Cherem, best known as Pepe, is another example. After coming to Israel from Mexico in 2014 to serve as a lone soldier, he became a regular at the Tel Aviv hub. 

“Dov leads by personal example and has a strong sense of self,” Cherem told the Magazine. “He has led me to a lot of introspection. From him, I have learned so much about feeling empathy for others and finding solutions to anything. He always gives us 110%. Every action he takes correlates with his clear sense of integrity. 

“He’s taught me about how to build for long-term process and about how to give people a chance to grow.”

THERE ARE surely hundreds, if not thousands, of stories about Newmark and the impact he has had on so many. One of the best examples was portrayed at his farewell l’chaim celebration in June 2023 to mark his departure from his post at Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Some of the attendees wrote a song for him to the tune of Tina Turner’s classic “Simply the Best,” focusing on the many positive gestures he’s made through the years. From supplying toilet paper to helping those in the midst of a personal crisis, Newmark has been there, whenever he possibly could.

So, what’s next for him now that he’s left the only life he’s known since his own aliyah 15 years ago? 

“I’m not sure yet, but for now I’ll be spending time in my garden,” he mused.

Sowing the seeds for a brighter future for his family, which now includes five Sabra grandchildren, he’s also looking forward to watching the seeds of success grow for those olim and their families whom he’s helped along the way. ■

Dov Newmark From Essex, UK, to Modi’in, 2008