Arrival: A second chance to live

Through divorce and a near-fatal health scare, this mother of four took a risk and ‘won the lottery.’

There is always laughter in the house, no matter what,’ says Jacobs, who went through difficult times and came out smiling (photo credit: KIM MAYROZE FOR KIMMDESIGN STUDIO)
There is always laughter in the house, no matter what,’ says Jacobs, who went through difficult times and came out smiling
Eve Jacobs uprooted her four children from England in 2009 – when they were 11, 14, 16 and 17 years old – knowing full well that their adjustment to Israel would be rocky, but with the conviction that she was setting them on the path to great futures that they wouldn’t have if they stayed where they were.
“I took a risk and feel like I won the lottery,” the single mother says while sitting at a café near her home in Jerusalem’s German Colony. “When I moved here, every single person said, ‘You’re so brave,’ or ‘You’re so crazy,’ and I’ve got to tell you, I’m a bit of both. It took three years for my kids to tell me I wasn’t mad. Today they’re all happy and very settled.”
And that’s despite the fact that money has been tight and the Jacobs family has no relatives in Israel.
Her parents live in London; her siblings live in London and Amsterdam.
Jacobs manages vacation properties through her rapidly expanding business, Jerusalem Holiday Homes (, and works as an aide for special-needs students at the Jerusalem American International School. She swims every morning, helps small-business owners establish a presence on Facebook, and teaches pensioners how to use social media and Skype. She is learning to play piano, too.
Most mornings, she posts a picture of the Jerusalem sunrise on her Facebook wall and shares some bit of humor with her online friends. Recently she described the scene at the Rami Levi supermarket just after Passover, finding laughs in the insanity.
“My life is laughing and smiling, seeing the funny side of difficult situations,” she explains. “I have financial worries, but it’s okay – my kids wake up with smiles on their faces and can go anywhere they like, which they could not do in Manchester.”
‘Where every Jewish person should live’
As a teen, Jacobs – the daughter of Rabbi Irving Jacobs, the well-known former principal of Jews College – was involved in the Bnei Akiva Zionist youth movement.
At 14, she came to Israel with her school for five months.
“And that was it. I was hooked. I realized this is where every Jewish person should live,” she says.
When she was 18, she did an ulpan program at Kibbutz Yavne. Back in England, she married at age 20 and made aliya to Ma’aleh Gilboa. However, after nine months the newlyweds returned to London and had three sons and a daughter in rapid succession. In 2001, when their youngest was four years old, the couple moved to Manchester.
Jacobs soon thereafter had a series of medical problems, and in the middle of that her marriage ended in 2002.
“For me, that I was told that I could have six months to live – and here I am, very much alive – is really what makes me who I am. I love life and have energy for everything...
because I could very easily not have been alive.”
With four children to support, she turned to the UK charity UJIA, which gave her a grant to get a degree in education and obtain teaching credentials.
“I got a job at my kids’ Orthodox Jewish school and studied at night; I did my degree in two years,” she says. “I taught at that school and loved it, until in 2008 I had an epiphany. I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’ I picked the kids up and left a year later.”
She acknowledges that things were rocky, and her oldest son, Shimmy, went back to England after three months. But he came back after a year, did army service and now, at 22, is learning in a Nahlaot yeshiva and discovering a passion for cooking. Her 21-yearold son, Hudi, is finishing his military service in a few months and hopes to go into business.
“It was hardest for the younger ones the first year, because they had no Hebrew,” she says. “Then YTA [Yerushalayim Torah Academy for English-speakers] came into the picture. This is what changed the whole aliya of my two youngest kids, Yechiel and Shifra.
Yechiel graduated last year with the prize for most progress, and is going into the army in August.”
Shifra, now 16, is a member of the ethnically diverse YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus, which recently performed with Israeli folk-singing icon David Broza.
“She wants to make singing a career,” says her mother.
“My kids are so full of life, and that’s what I brought them here for.”
Last year, Jacobs’s own level of comfort in her new surroundings improved dramatically due to the “incredible transformation” she experienced with the guidance of Ilana Weiler, an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner.
“After this, everything in my life here changed, and so did the direction of my life,” she says.
Doing a good turn
The vacation rental property management business, which she began three years ago, ignited her love of sharing Jerusalem with visitors and making them feel welcome.
“If you do someone a good turn, you just don’t know how it will reverberate. People have been so kind to me here that I make it my job to be kind, too,” says Jacobs, who was delighted to rediscover many friends from her youth once she moved to Israel. She has also made lots of new friends, all English-speakers.
“My Hebrew comprehension is good and my spoken Hebrew is okay,” she says. “In the business I’m in and the area I’m living in, I don’t need much Hebrew. I can get by.”
Every day she speaks with her mother and father via Skype. “My parents think I am the most inspirational person they know, and they tell me they are in awe of my strength – though I don’t see that about myself.”
However, she does admit that she is not afraid of hardship and is determined to make her family’s experience positive, even as she continues to deal with medical issues and the search for “Mr. Right.”
“The most beautiful memory in my life is making the three bar mitzvas in two years and nine months,” she says. “At my third son’s bar mitzva, when the older two were called up on the bima with him, I knew I had done something right. To bring up four amazing kids without a father in the picture – that’s my legacy to the world.”
Her prescription for happiness? “I roll my sleeves up and get on with it. I do what I have to do and will make a success of it,” she says.
“There is always laughter in the house, no matter what the situation. And my daughter is always singing and playing music to brighten up our lives. It’s taken me a long time to feel this happy.”