Veterans: No looking back

Moving here is never easy, but Arthur Livingstone and his wife, Joy, have no regrets.

Arthur livingstone 311 (photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
Arthur livingstone 311
(photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
In 1982, Arthur Livingstone packed up the furniture business he’d had in Glasgow, sold his house and made aliya with his wife Joy and three children. He had been perfectly happy in Scotland where he was born, raised and received his university education – but Joy was a keen Zionist, daughter of a German refugee who fled in 1938 and found refuge in England. She had been to Israel 20 years before on a course for students from abroad, before returning to Scotland to study art, and she was the one who really wanted to come and live here.
Arthur rather reluctantly agreed, but now looks back and is sure they made the right decision. In their nearly 30 years here, they’ve had several businesses including a Lord Kitsch franchise in Herzliya for six years, and today Joy makes and sells T-shirts from their moshav home while Arthur requalified to a completely new profession as a translator from Hebrew to English. He was chairman of the Israeli Translators’ Association from 2000 to 2002. He’s also been able to indulge in his love of acting, having played several small roles in Israeli movies, and is still hoping for more.
It all started with their move to Israel, which just about coincided with one of the British pound’s periodic plummets. This one left them in an unfortunate financial position as they had sold their beautiful Glasgow house, then found they could buy very little for the same money here once the devaluation set in.
“We decided to rent, which was a big mistake,” he says now.
Their first stop was the Ra’anana Absorption Center in which he says they spent the best seven months of their lives.
“It was like going back to school,” he says. “We had a little apartment and no responsibilities – and I loved the lessons.”
The children were 12, 10 and three and their absorption was not entirely problem-free – but they all grew up as proud Israelis and overcame the initial setbacks.
STRAIGHT AFTER finishing ulpan they got a lucky break. One of the ulpan teachers had a husband who was starting a business called “Edunetics,” an early interactive program for learning English.
“With my maths and English background it was the perfect job for me,” says Arthur. “I’m an independent spirit and I’ve never liked being told what to do or having someone stand over me. The job consisted of writing programs for teaching English and I loved the work.”
This went on for a few years but Joy still hadn’t found her niche and was looking around for something to do.
A friend knew Joy had an art degree and asked her to help dress the window of the Lord Kitsch shop she was planning to open.
“Maybe we should do this too,” said Joy to Arthur. In 1985 they opened their shop in Herzliya on the main street. “Our Hebrew was just about good enough for this and Joy developed a new technique for printing the designs onto the T-shirts,” says Arthur. “The business was going well, but within a year 12 other shops opened up in Herzliya doing the same thing.”
Then Joy had another good idea. She suggested they sell the prints and start importing new designs from the US, which no one else would have.
“This went well too,” recalls Arthur. “And then it happened again. We’d been giving a great service – but one of our customers stopped buying and I found out he was getting the stuff for 10 agorot less from someone else.”
Arthur was quite surprised and disillusioned with business ethics in Israel. “It would never have happened in Scotland,” he says. “No one would give up a good supplier. The attitude is all wrong – there’s no loyalty.”
He never tried to do business again and fortunately found something else. He also managed to do some serious acting once he’d made aliya.
“Before I came I’d done a lot of acting in Glasgow, but I’d had my fill of amateur drama,” he says.
He got himself an agent and landed parts in two Israeli movies. In Kav 300 he played the part of cabinet minister Moshe Arens and also had a small part in the movie Dov Gruner, about the hero of the uprising against the British Mandate.
In 1996 the family moved to Sde Warburg. “I’d always wanted to live in the country,” he says. “We were getting near to the end of our lease and we needed a bigger place so Joy could continue in her shirt-making business.”
The moshav is one of the most established in the Sharon area and enabled them to have a house with a garden and shed where Joy could set up her small workshop.
Soon after moving to the moshav, Arthur was approached by a neighbor who needed an English speaker to write captions for a documentary he had made.
“I did it and loved it,” he says. “I liked working in English and having to get the essence in a limited number of words.”
A few years later he saw an advertisement in The Jerusalem Post for a translating course at Beit Berl.
“I applied, not sure that my Hebrew would be good enough, but I got in and spent two very happy years learning translation.”
Eleven years ago he established his company, Omni Trans, and has never looked back. He works mostly with foreign agencies in law and accounting documents and is busy learning medical terminology.
“I’m going to translate for as long as my brain is able,” he says.