Culture shocked

Carole Bishop decided to move here with her partner and their children last year and hopes she can adapt soon to living here.

Carole Bishop 370 (photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
Carole Bishop 370
(photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
Less than a year ago, Carole Bishop left York in the north of England and came to live in Israel. She had become Jewish through a Reform conversion seven years before.
For her partner of 16 years, Tammy, moving here was completely natural, as she is an Israeli. For Carole, however, it has been something of a culture shock.
But she is riding the storm well and is sure she will eventually feel completely at home.
Helping to make the absorption easier is the fact that she works for Roy Ben-Shlomo, whose Executive Butlers company is going from strength to strength. What started out as a cleaning service has expanded to include many other helpful activities like walking dogs, ironing, mending, and being available to help out at dinner parties with serving and washing up.
Carole fits in well, being one of his star cleaners and also a qualified acupuncturist.
“No, I don’t feel the cleaning is beneath me,” she says. “It’s satisfying, especially after the stressful work I used to do with drug addiction in the UK. It’s rather nice to have a job that’s physical, not emotional.”
Still, with a degree in psychology from Newcastle University and a graduate diploma in addiction studies, cleaning homes for Israeli women must have its downside.
“Because Roy takes such pride in his company, he doesn’t accept just anyone to work for him, so I’m pleased that he considered me up to scratch,” she says diplomatically.
She met Tammy, who had moved to England, when they were introduced by mutual friends. They decided they would live their life together in England, at least until Carole’s son from a previous relationship was old enough. Also, Tammy spoke English well, while Carole’s Hebrew was – and is – non-existent.
They have two little girls, both born through AID (Artificial Insemination by Donor), the older seven, the younger three.
Carole converted when Tammy made it clear she wanted to raise their children Jewish. They found the Sinai Reform Synagogue in Leeds to be an amazing and helpful community.
“Our older daughter came with me to the mikve [ritual bath] to complete my conversion,” says Carole.
When Carol’s son Jesse turned 20, they decided they would move the family to Israel, and made aliya through the Jewish Agency.
“The journey from York to Ramat Gan took three days,” says Carole.
They flew El Al, stayed in Jerusalem and had a moving ceremony at the Western Wall with their group of 20 or so new immigrants.
The next day, a taxi deposited them in the Ramat Gan house they had already rented in England, which they chose from videos sent over by a friend.
The decision to live in Ramat Gan was governed by their choice of school for their two daughters.
“We wanted to educate them at an anthroposophic school, of which there are several, and we decided that whichever one would take us, that was where we would live,” explains Carole.
These schools are based on the philosophy of Austrian thinker Rudolf Steiner and the studies are interdisciplinary, combining practical, artistic and conceptual elements.
“They have two hours of formal learning a day and the rest is hands-on art and crafts with no homework,” explains Carole. “We both felt it was the right environment for our daughters.”
The girls have adapted well to living in Israel, and both speak Hebrew fluently.
Tammy has spoken to them in her native tongue since they were babies, but sadly none of it rubbed off on Carole.
Back home in the UK, her brother and sister were supportive of her unusual life change and decision to move many miles away.
“They are happy for me,” she says.
The two women quickly went out and bought secondhand furniture for their new home and a car which they share. They also both have their own bicycle for getting around, which flew with them on the plane.
Carole immediately found work with Executive Butlers while Tammy, who is a qualified nurse, began working for Shahal, a private emergency nursing service.
She is a qualified cardiac nurse and can read EKGs that the patients send to her through the computer. On the basis of these she decides whether to send an ambulance or not.
Carol considered working in a drug addiction clinic when she first arrived but found that without Hebrew, she had no chance. For the cleaning job, no linguistic talent was necessary.
But now that she has settled down here and is a little more used to Israeli ways, she will soon start working one day a week at an acupuncture clinic that specializes in fertility problems. The lack of Hebrew will not be a problem for this particular job.
They find Tel Aviv society open and accepting of them as a lesbian couple, and are very happy here.
For the future, Carole desperately wants to learn Hebrew and speak it as well as her daughters.
“I’ve decided the only way I am going to learn the language is if I take a private teacher,” she says. “With working shifts and moving around so much, I can’t commit to ulpan.”
“I want to be a part of Israeli society,” she says. “I live here but I don’t feel fully part of Israel yet.”