Jackie Frankel’s dream was to be a Broadway star. With her sweet mellow voice and powerful personality, as well as a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and theater, she moved from her native Chicago to New York to realize that dream and see her name in lights.It didn’t quite materialize because she made aliya in August 2009 instead and has found work, a boyfriend, a future and, most of all, happiness living here.Broadway can wait. Frankel has important work to do here, living and working for the Zionist dream.LIFE BEFORE ALIYA Frankel’s parents are traditional Jews living in Buffalo Grove, near Chicago, and her father worked as a mechanical engineer. She moved to New York early on, and her master’s degree was in public administration from Columbia University. She never actually tried out for Broadway but did one-woman shows in New York in which she sang and talked. One was a tribute to one of her favorite singers, Ella Fitzgerald, and later she would do jazz gigs, all the time working in fund-raising and artist management to support herself.She had visited Israel several times, although by her own admission she was very unconnected to Judaism and dated non-Jewish boys. In the spring of 2009, she had to make a choice between returning to Chicago to live, with the prospect of marrying and having children there, or the rather revolutionary idea of settling in Israel. Much to her parents’ surprise, she opted for the latter. Her parents, she says, were very supportive.ON ARRIVAL She came directly through Nefesh B’Nefesh and went to stay with friends in Kfar Saba for the first few weeks. She began working for Nitzan (The Association for the Learning Disabled) in Tel Aviv and spent two months there until she could start ulpan in Haifa. She joined Ulpan Etzion, a place especially designated for young academics.“I met a lot of great people but decided that Haifa wasn’t the right place for me,” she says.Meanwhile, she did various freelance jobs using her marketing skills, including helping to publicize the music of composer Gilad Hesseg in the US and getting involved in various nonprofits, the most prominent being Women and Men in Blue and White, dedicated to helping lone soldiers. And she still found time to sing.“I met Eli Sherman, a guitarist and songwriter, in ulpan and we started a band together,” she recounts. “We did gigs in Haifa. The group was called White Collar Music Collective, the name he’d used in California for his previous group.”SETTLING IN The first six months were hard until she made friends and began to perform.“At the beginning I was really scared and lonely and was constantly calling my parents and telling them I didn’t think I’d make it. The real turning point came with my music and when I met Eli and began to do gigs. I realized I wasn’t alone.”WORK After five months of ulpan in Haifa and many singing gigs, she realized that serious work was beckoning. Eventually she moved to Tel Aviv, where she found work at the Jaffa Institute, which helps at-risk children, both Jews and Arabs, break out of poverty through educational programs. Her official title is development associate and Youth 4 Youth co-coordinator. She finds that her experience in fund-raising and public relations, as well as her obvious people skills, contribute to success in her job.Another is the Encounter trips during which young professionals meet with Palestinian counterparts on a two-day trip that is educational rather than political and in which both sides learn to listen and to dialogue.“I want to do something meaningful to help the Jewish people,” says Frankel, “which is what I try to do in my work at the institute and outside it.”CIRCLE“We have a strong company of English speakers in Tel Aviv, and sometimes we have a girls’ night with 25 new immigrants who turn up,” she says.Then there is Omer, whom she met at a wedding. Having been trained by the army as a doctor, he has recently qualified and now has to pay back his medical training by serving in the army for some years.FINANCES “I’m very fortunate, as I earn enough to be able to support myself and also pay back the loans I took for my studies,” Frankel says.OTHER INTERESTS She is getting involved in several organizations, all with the aim of getting young people to reengage with Zionism and what it means today. One is Take Back Zionism, a new initiative to counteract the negative connotations that have become attached to the movement for Jewish national revival and to reclaim Zionism as the expression of the highest Jewish ideals.Another is the Encounter trips during which young professionals meet with Palestinian counterparts on a two-day trip that is educational rather than political and in which both sides learn to listen and to dialogue.“I want to do something meaningful to help the Jewish people,” says Frankel, “which is what I try to do in my work at the institute and outside it.”PLANS “I’d like to get married and raise Israeli kids, but I also want to keep the singing as a big part of my life,” she says.