Arrivals: Go with the flow

The Binuns: Deborah, 38, and Ryan, 43, From London to Ra'anana.

Ryan and Deborah Binun (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ryan and Deborah Binun
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Binuns came to Ra’anana last August with three boisterous boys, aged two to six, and the determination to live life here to the fullest.
Born in Pretoria, Ryan spent his teen years in Israel, did the army, and tried out hi-tech before leaving for London to marry British-born Deborah in 2003.
Besides that, the family had spent a couple of years in Netanya from 2011 to 2013, returning to the UK solely for business reasons.
Deborah grew up in Southgate, North London, where her Israel connection was an Aden-born father. Her maternal grandparents were of Eastern European origin, her grandmother, who survived WWII, hiding in southern France, and subsequently moved to London.
Deborah’s scanty Jewish education was based on two principles: “Don’t eat pork,” and “marry a Jew.” This second tenet was her grandmother’s legacy.
“Since she had lost all her family in the Holocaust, though she didn’t believe in God, it was of utmost importance that she marry a Jew and that we also continue on the chain.”
Following Deborah’s marriage to Ryan, she became more interested in Judaism and inspired by lectures and seminars run by organizations such as SEED and Tikun.
“They also teach about spiritual well-being, which really developed my belief in God,” she says. “Very slowly, I started to take things on, such as keeping Shabbat and eating strictly kosher, and have continued to take on more as time goes on.”
When Ryan moved to Ra’anana at age 13, he found his nirvana. Back in Pretoria his Jewish elementary school had enforced discipline with blows from a stick “that left deep red marks on your skin for days after,” besides a tough regime of “swimming in winter in the outdoor pool at 7:10 a.m.”
“I was a huge Zionist and so excited to be in Israel. I quickly became integrated into Israeli culture, eating garinim (sunflower seeds) with the boys. Life was just simple, dust roads, just a couple of restaurants. [It] really taught huge appreciation of life. We were so excited when Pizza Hut first came to Israel. I felt passionate to be here, going to shul with my dad. The good old days!” After serving in the IDF, Ryan wholeheartedly embraced his destiny as an entrepreneur, undeterred by ups and downs.
“I hate a boring life,” he exclaims.
“When I leave Planet Earth, I never want to look back and have any regrets ever. That’s why I’ve taken every decent opportunity to try something new and exciting, be it in business or for pleasure, or just because it sounds fun."
“My philosophy is a simple one. Go with the flow, with the tide. Why plan and then attempt to go against the tide just because you have to stick to your original plan? If a wall is in your way, you gonna knock it down? All that effort, and you don’t even know what’s on the other side. I’d rather just turn back and go an easier route.”
The Binuns met at the London wedding of mutual friends in 1999. When they saw each other again a year later at a bar mitzva of the same family, Ryan was already working in London, and Deborah studying business and French at Birmingham University. The couple married in 2003 at Finchley Synagogue.
Deborah had started an events company that focused on Jewish singles and was linked to various Jewish charities.
“Ryan decided that the natural progression from this point was into food,” she said. “We went into the food business together in 2003, until 2006, when I left [the business] to do my master’s degree in integrative psychotherapy and counseling. Ryan continued in the business and sold out in 2012.”
The newlyweds found the catering business “full of stress and mishaps,” Ryan recalls. “At each function it was just a question of what might go wrong, and when and how we would solve it. It was really a business of troubleshooting. All about logistics. Like a moving restaurant. Moving all food and equipment to each venue and kashering the kitchens, managing lots of stressed-out chefs and the expectations of very demanding clients. Such a difficult business! And of course the caterer always gets the blame for anything that goes wrong.”
Deborah felt that “it’s like a calm swan gliding across the water. The functions always looked so smooth, perfect and wonderful from the outside – dancing, happy people – then below the water, kicking of feet, working like mad for it to look effortless. It was the hardest, most physically and emotionally draining thing we’ve ever done.”
Their experiences were sometimes unnerving. Ryan cites the time when a technical malfunction caused the food and plates to be stuck in the elevator of a new five-star hotel in downtown London.
“No one was able to get it out as the time to serve the food grew closer! We eventually got it out just in time. It was always okay in the end, but we have many gray hairs to show for it.”
On another occasion he got stuck in a refrigerated van full of food.
“The door just closed behind me, and I was parked on a hill. Couldn’t get out. By some total miracle the door opened. This business shows you the hand of God at every junction!”
Yet another time, “Half the food went missing, as food vans made their way from kitchen to venue, and one of the vans filled with food got lost on the motorway, never to be seen again!” Once, a temperamental head chef had a tantrum and hurled the showpiece of the party, Grandma’s magnificent birthday cake, into the dumpster outside.
“We had to piece together a cake from literally nothing. It looked horrendous, and the faces of the clients will never be forgotten,” Ryan says ruefully.
Here in Israel, the Binuns and their boys are thriving, while Deborah feels that “all of the events in our lives regarding moving to Israel, moving back [to London], then moving out here again have really been decisions that were almost taken out of our hands.”
She now works as a therapist, using relaxation, visualizations and advanced pain control techniques to guide women through labor and to develop their innate resilience.
“I hold courses and private classes with couples to teach them hypnobirthing techniques. I also hold workshops for women on new motherhood, on letting go in labor, on letting go of previous trauma.”
She herself had three water-birth deliveries in London and used the techniques she now teaches.
Ryan still occasionally commutes to London for projects but is also considering investing in Israel.
“The energy here is incredible.... I feel it’s like I’m hot-wired to an electrical circuit that’s buzzing constantly. I have a couple of hi-tech ideas. Probably will give it a few more tries, except this time I’m more interested in the journey than the destination.”
The Binuns enthusiastically say, “There’s no better place in the world for a Jew to be than here. We feel so lucky and privileged.”