Veterans: Technology ‘shadchan’

Hillel Fuld From Queens, NEW YORK To Jerusalem , 1993.

Hillel Fuld (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hillel Fuld
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Although his first years after making aliya were tough, Hillel Fuld’s story is one of steadfast devotion to Israel.
Growing up in a Zionist home with a beloved day school principal as a father did not stop Fuld from being a bitter teenage oleh. “Making aliya was my parents’ dream their whole lives. I didn’t really know what to expect. That’s the truth.
“I made aliya at 15, a problematic age. It was not an easy transition. In high school math, they were on the US college level. I did five years of hesder yeshiva at Kerem b’Yavne. Going into the army was not an easy concept for me. There definitely were years when I was bitter and talked about going back to America.”
Somewhere along the way, Fuld, now 36, did a complete 180-degree turn. “Now I can tell you it was the best thing that ever happened to me, both professionally and personally.”
His first exposure to Israel was during his bar mitzva year. His initial impressions of Israel were not overwhelmingly positive. “There was no avoiding the differences culturally and materialistically.
I definitely felt the sharp contrast.
I definitely felt that Israel was a different planet than what I was used to in New York.”
THOSE DIFFERENCES have entirely melted away. Today, Fuld is a full-time evangelist for the hi-tech sector in Israel – and, to some extent, for Israel as well.
The transition from bitter teenager to Israeli technology promoter was gradual.
“It was a mentality shift. Instead of being bitter all the time, I decided to make the most of it.”
Right after college, he trained as a technical writer with WritePoint in Jerusalem. He got a plum technical writing job, but quickly learned that, though he loves technology and he enjoys writing, technical writing wasn’t for him.
For fun, Fuld started writing about technology for the general population.
Eventually, companies began reaching out to him, asking him to write about their new products. “Israelis are good at building products, but not so good at getting their products out,” he explained.
Today, Fuld’s full-time gig is CMO – chief marketing officer for Zula, a technology company that offers integrated tools to enable work teams to communicate more efficiently. But that doesn’t really explain what he does. He doesn’t sell Zula technology. His job is to build good will in the technology arena.
Through his efforts, people hear about Zula.
In this role, he meets the people behind Israeli tech start-ups as well as prospective investors every day. When he can play technology matchmaker, he’s happy to do so. “99.9% of the time, I just try to help. Everyone gains, that’s really the bottom line. For now, I’m helping out as many people as I can.”
Fuld is incredibly active in social media.
He has approximately 55,000 followers on Google+ (a social media platform whose demographic skews toward people in technology), 40,000 followers on Facebook, 32,000 followers on Twitter and several thousand followers on Instagram.
Not shy about posting his own picture, often at his trademark 45-degree angle, alone, with his wife and children or with the Israeli entrepreneurs he meets daily, he says, “My followers on social media don’t even know I live in Israel.”
Every Friday, he posts a picture of himself dressed for Shabbat with the message, “Signing off for 25 hours of family time away from all ringing, pinging, tweeting devices! Best time of the week! Shabbat shalom.” Fuld reports, “Many people have said to me, ‘When you take your Shabbos picture, I’m inspired.’ One woman contacted me on Instagram. She told me, ‘Every Friday I wait for these pictures and these pictures have inspired me. I haven’t kept Shabbos for 40 years but I’m going to start again.’ These things have an effect. At the end of the day, I hope to have an i m - pact on people’s lives.”
He is also a one-man job placement office. “Because I meet with start-ups every single day, again, along the lines of trying to help the technology ecosystem, when I hear of people looking, I say ‘Send me your resumé’ and I pass it on.”
He has a whole system of folders, organized by skill set, with anywhere between 80 and 200 CVs in each folder.
So far, he’s helped 106 people get jobs in Israel. “I never take money for this.
I’d rather get my reward after 120 years [at the end of his life]. It’s an amazing, amazing blessing to be able to do that,” he demurs.
Why does he give with such an open hand? “I was brought up this way. My parents are those ‘We love all Jews’ kind of people. I’m a big giver. I’m a big believer in being a mensch.”
EVEN THOUGH his own aliya started out rocky, Fuld can’t stop crowing about life in Israel. Asked what advice he has for parents who have or are thinking about making aliya with teenagers, he was quick to answer. “Everything here is much better today than it ever was before.
With Skype and FaceTime, you really don’t have to disconnect from your old friends.
“And there are so many cool factors in the tech world which are big with teenagers. Show them the positive sides. Israelis invented Waze. They are working on self-driving cars. Amazing things are happening in this country. Amazing things that would appeal to teenagers. There is no big company in the world of technology that doesn’t have a presence in Israel. Just focus on the positive and not the negative.”
To prospective olim, Fuld relates that his experiences in Israel have led him to conclude that life in Israel, even on a materialistic level, is competitive with life in America.
“The common perception among American Jewry is that you have to sacrifice in the quality of life. That had truth in the past, but if you’re willing to work hard, you can really make aliya and be as [materially] spoiled as you want.
“I’m still in touch with friends in America and they don’t have a quality of life that’s above what I have. Especially with the difference in tuition in America. There are things that are difficult here, but as a whole, there’s not much of a gap here anymore. There are flourishing communities with tons of Anglos [English-speaking immigrants]. At the end of the day, the gap is pretty much closed.”
Fuld credits Israel for his astonishing professional success. “At the end of the day, I fundamentally believe that if I had tried to build this kind of career in America, I never would be able to do this. On a weekly basis, I get amazing job offers from the States to be brand ambassadors for major hi-tech companies. I always turn them down.
“I love Israel. I wouldn’t be able to achieve in the US what I achieved here. Also, my parents sacrificed a lot to bring me here. It would be like spitting in the face of my parents. I’m more than happy here. There’s no reason to run away.
“I feel very, very blessed. I would not change a thing if I win the lottery tomorrow. Israel is the most amazing place on Earth to live. That’s the bottom line.”