A true Tel Avivian

Cid Carver came for a short visit and ending up staying for good. "To this day I can’t explain it. I just said to myself that this is where I want to live for the rest of my life".

Cid Carver aliya 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Cid Carver aliya 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Cid Carver could be a poster child for Taglit- Birthright. The free Jewish heritage journey brought her to Israel for the first time, and by the end of the 10 days she had decided to stay.
“They brought soldiers to join us starting on the fifth day, and I ended up being friends with all of them and got to meet some of their families afterward,” she says. “I had never felt more at home or more certain of anything, and to this day I can’t explain it. I just said to myself that this is where I want to live for the rest of my life.”
Carver had just graduated from Suffolk University in Boston, and planned to teach English in Barcelona.
When she found out that Birthright had finally accepted her after her third application, she figured she would simply go to Spain directly from Israel.
However, on the last day of her group tour she sent her dad, Randy, an email. “I said, ‘I think I’m going to do this thing called aliya.’ His reaction was, ‘Are you happy, and are you going to get a job?’ I said ‘yes’ and ‘yes.’ He was the first person to support me, from day one.”
Now 24, Carver is an only child who has always been extraordinarily independent. She left her native Cleveland at 17 to live on her own in Florida, where she could pursue her passion for competitive horseback riding while finishing high school and beginning community college. Three years later, she transferred to Suffolk University to be closer to friends and family.
When her Birthright trip was over, Carver stayed on another 10 days to begin the process of making aliya.
She filed all the necessary paperwork with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh and “an incredibly kind family” she had met during Taglit, and then took off for a two-week vacation in Europe.
While in Amsterdam, she got word that her papers were in order except for one missing document: the required letter from a rabbi vouching for her Jewish ancestry.
That was a problem, since her Reform temple in Cleveland did not have a rabbi at the time.
For two months, she stayed at Tel Aviv’s Florentine Hostel and made phone calls trying to smooth this wrinkle. Eventually, her mother’s parents secured a letter from the rabbi who had officiated at the Carvers’ wedding ceremony.
“When they finally handed me my teudat zehut [identity card], I was so happy, I couldn’t help but cry,” she recalls. That was September 14, 2011.
Running through Israel After five months of residing in Tel Aviv with a female former soldier she’d met on Birthright, Carver made a quick trip to the States to retrieve the rest of her belongings. In March 2013, she moved in with roommates from Ohio and New York.
Most of her new friendships have resulted from her athletic activities and her involvement in White City Shabbat, a grassroots program offering Tel Aviv’s young internationals Shabbat home hospitality and monthly communal meals at a synagogue.
“During the time I was trying to make aliya, I got into running because I needed something to help take my mind off the process, and I started training for the TLV half-marathon,” she relates. “I made a friend who became my running partner and had gone to school with Eytan White,” the former New Yorker who coordinates White City Shabbat.
“She tried to convince me to go to the programs, but I kept saying that’s not who I am – I’m not Orthodox.
But in February 2012 I went to my first White City Shabbat, and I haven’t missed a single one since, except when I was traveling in Central America this past summer. I found a family and community there. It’s the most amazing thing. Everybody turns off their phones and shares a meal together. You meet people from all over the world who have all made the same decision to come live in Israel.”
Now one of her closest friends, White joined a group of 10 that rented a house in Eilat for a weekend last January so they could cheer on Carver as she competed in her first half Israman distance triathlon. “Knowing they were waiting for me at the finish line kept me pushing through,” she confides.
During the three-day training camp for Israman, Carver made another key acquaintance, Jill Ben- Dor of Meitar. “She made aliya 30 years ago, and she helped me with the Hebrew. After the race, she messaged me and asked me what I was doing for Passover.
Since then, she’s become adopted family to me.
We’re planning to go to Amsterdam together to do a half-marathon.”
Weekend biking and running have given Carver the chance to explore Israel: cycling in Eilat with the sun rising over the mountains in Jordan, running from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, participating in a relay from the northern border of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee).
She is now in training for the half-Ironman in January.
A true Tel Avivian Sports also provided her entrée to meeting Israelis.
Because Carver does not have relatives in Israel, did not serve in the army and never took part in a longterm Israeli program, connecting with natives was a concern for her.
The language barrier makes that more difficult. “I did ulpan, but didn’t pick up Hebrew easily or quickly.
That’s been a personal struggle,” she admits.
The first couple of jobs she took in social media and online marketing required English, while a short stint working in a sports shop honed her Hebrew a bit. Now helping to organize cycling events and seeking fulltime employment, Carver is attending an intensive ulpan.
“I’m approaching it this time with a better mindset, and more friends to practice with,” she says.
If you ask her what she loves most about living in Israel, she’ll say it is the sense of community.
“Yes, there is no filter on Israelis and no politeness, but that’s really what I love because you know exactly where you stand, and you can be more direct and say what’s on your mind. I love the openness, the ability to just talk to people on the street. You feel you’re part of the community and there’s something to contribute to.”
Even getting her bike stolen – twice – has not soured her on Israel, but actually made her feel more at home.
“You have to do three things to be a true Tel Avivian,” she jokes. “Have a bike stolen, buy Shoresh sandals and have a failed start-up. I’ve done all three.”
While backpacking in Central America, she was dismayed to discover that when people asked her where she lives, reactions were often negative. “It’s so unfortunate the way the media portrays Israel on the news, and I wish people could see it as more than a place of war and terror. I always tell people there are amazing athletics in Israel – some of the best cycling and most beautiful scenery.”