Dynamic duo

Adam Hantman (26), London to Karmiel, December 2008 and Meshi Meiselman (18), from Mexico, January 2009.

adam hantman and meshi 311 (photo credit: .)
adam hantman and meshi 311
(photo credit: .)
An instant romance blossomed between these two young immigrants when they met at a kibbutz ulpan at Ramat Yohanan near Haifa last winter. They have been together ever since, set up home in Karmiel and run an immigrant information Web site. They both have solid family connections here and have no regrets about their lifestyle decisions.
Hantman grew up in a large Jewish community in London. He was a youth leader at Kenton Youth Club until 17 and during his teenage years played on Maccabi soccer and basketball teams. He studied marketing at Birmingham University.
Meiselman was born here; her parents had immigrated from Chile and married here. But when she was three, they returned to Chile and later relocated to Mexico, where her father had work commitments. Meiselman was also a group leader in Maccabi Mexico and when she left school worked in Internet marketing.
“I always looked on Israel as a safe haven for Jews,” says Hantman. “Both of us had grandparents who escaped Nazi persecution in Germany. Neither of us felt really at home in our adopted countries.”
For Meiselman it was a natural process in her family’s exodus. “My immediate family had lived here and were always passionate about Zionism. Gradually we are returning.”
The kibbutz ulpan seemed the ideal place to start. “It is a beautiful place with great facilities and wonderful people,” says Hantman. “Meeting each other was the best thing so far.”
“I had one problem at the ulpan, however,” continues Hantman. “I wasn’t very good at Hebrew so I decided to leave.”
He used his powers of persuasion to get Meiselman to go with him. She understands Hebrew and copes well with the language. “We speak together in English,” says Meiselman. “In fact my spelling is better than Adam’s.” They smile in agreement.
“Adam is trying to learn Spanish too,” she says. “So far, he knows the numbers.”
Hantman has a brother and sister who made aliya before him. Meiselman has a wide extended family here including her grandparents. Her grandmother Frida immigrated from Chile in 1971, determined to bring up her children in Israel. “She is very idealistic,” says Meshi.
Meshi’s grandmother, sister and other family members live in Kiryat Motzkin and she has a brother in Eilat. “I feel that this family support network is the main reason behind my successful transition. I chose to live in the north to be near them.”
They enjoy spending the holidays and weekends with the family and are specially devoted to Meiselman’s baby nephew. “I do miss my family in Mexico, particularly my mother, but they are proud of me and support my decisions.”
The couple settled in Karmiel after spending six months in Kiryat Motzkin. They found an apartment with a beautiful view. “We are very happy with the move. Karmiel is clean, quiet and very picturesque. We think we have found our own little corner of paradise,” says Hantman.
The decision to set up an immigrant information Web site, www.cheap4olim.com, came out of their own experiences and struggles when setting up home.
“When we left the kibbutz, we found a small apartment in Kiryat Motzkin. It was totally empty and the first nights we slept on the floor. We were advised to look on Web sites for furniture, but we couldn’t understand the Hebrew,” says Hantman.
“We needed everything from cutlery to curtains, and when we searched the stores, everything was out of our price range. Eventually we found a small private furniture shop, and the bed and mattress were delivered that day.”
They discussed the problem and guessed that they were not the first immigrants who needed basic services but who had very little local knowledge of prices and availability. Finding a plumber when the pipes are leaking or an electrician when all the appliances blow a fuse is not easy when you are in a new location with poor command of the language.
So the idea of the Web site was born. It took five months to create, and by September it was operating countrywide. By that time the couple had moved to Karmiel and were running the business from home. They have links with the immigrant organizations and Israel Business Connection and are grateful for the help and support they get from them.
With family and friends here, both Hantman and Meiselman spend a lot of time traveling around the country keeping contact. Hantman enjoys fixing the house, playing soccer, going to films and eating out. Meiselman is an artist and also sings and plays several instruments.
“We enjoy camping and hiking, exploring the beautiful Israeli countryside,” says Meiselman.
“Israel is a great place to raise a family and it seems so safe,” saysHantman. “We hope that our Web site will reach as many immigrants aspossible and help their integration.”
He has an idealistic approach that an easier transition will stem the tide of immigrants who return to their country of origin.
“I think our choice of Karmiel is the right one,” adds Meiselman. “Itis a great time to be in Israel, at this stage of life. I feel verygood here. I have learned so much about marketing and graphics designsince we started the Web site. It is an opportunity to give back toIsrael and help the immigrant community.
“It was my destiny to return,” she concludes.