(this article originally appeared in the May-June 2011 edition of the VOICE)
Sarah Weinstein, former financial planner, current small business owner, full-time Mom and AACI volunteer, celebrated her 10th aliyah anniversary last June.
Sarah made aliyah June 21, 2001 from Mahattan New York. Her original plan, to join her parents who lived here, was disrupted by the death of her father, z”l, a few months before she came to Israel. Thus, when she got here, she found herself without a crucial pillar of support she had counted on.
Despite that, Sarah knew this was where she wanted to be. “This is the best place for me to raise Bonnie [her daughter], and I’ve always had a connection to Israel. I thought, if not now, when?” Bonnie was 4 and a half years old when they made aliyah, and has been thriving since. “My daughter is very comfortable. She loves it here. When she goes to America she says, ‘I’m ready to go back to Israel.'”
“It was crazy when I made aliyah, because I moved during the second intifada. It was a dream I had.”
Did you have a plan when you came?
I had absolutely no clue. My father died before I got here. I had been doing financial planning in America for 25 years, but I couldn’t keep my license once I moved to Israel.
What are the biggest challenges of living in Israel?
The language. The bureaucracy is the same all over the world, I don’t believe Israel is any worse when you have to wait online for something. You’d have the same problems in America. It’s no picnic there either!
What do you like best about living in Israel?
The friendships I’ve made are much deeper because everyone is in the same boat. Most people don’t have family here. And I’m very blessed to have my mother here. And my friends have become my family.
Tell us about 4U Gifts.
6 years ago, a friend told me 4u was for sale, and a few weeks later, I bought it. A few months previous, I had gone to the AACI employment department. I had always wanted to own a boutique on Madison Avenue, but this is much better than being on Madison Avenue.
It’s a Gift Shop, housewares, and our primary business is bridal registrees. People can purchase online from all over the world. We import a lot of high-end brands, not like any other store in the country, customer service is just like America. People in the shop speak French, English and Hebrew.
I love buying, love being with people, love my clients, never two days that are the same. I loved financial planning because I was very much involved with peoples lives, but I was selling an abstract product. Now I see instant gratification. People generally come in happy and leave the same way.
How did you get involved with AACI?
I had known Josie (Arbel, director of Klitah Services and Programming). Josie had helped me before I made aliyah, and I knew that one lack I had was that I was heavily involved in the Jewish Community in America, but when I moved here, I was limited in what I could get involved with because of the language. I knew about AACI because my father, z”l, had wanted the AACI merger to happen. I had known about AACI for a long time, and I needed something to get involved with, so this was a logical place.
How did AACI help you when you first came to Israel?
AACI is always there as a sounding board. Any questions I have, I always talk to Sheila (Bauman, Klitah counselor in Jerusalem office) or Josie. I email Sheila, she gets back to me.
I sit on the Management Committee, was heavily involved in acquiring the building. I did the picking out of everything that’s in the offices. Chair of Development up until this year. Not involved in day-to-day operations, but in the overall where-we’re-going, what we’re doing, a board perspective, behind the scenes. Half the staff might not know who I am, and that’s fine, I don’t need to be known.
Loves AACI cruises – spends quality time with her mom, a very special time to be on that cruise.
4U Gifts – 41 Hebron Road, Jerusalem Tel. 02-671-8406 Email email@example.com
Editor’s note: Do you have an Israeli story — a personal story of life in Israel — that you would like to share with us? We are always interested in stories that will inform, uplift and inspire our readers. Of course, we reserve the sole right to publish or not, and to edit before publishing. Please submit your story, preferably including (non-copyright) photos as well, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to hearing from you!
AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center
Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2 (across from Hadar Mall)
Buses # 10, 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.
(02) 566-1181 for more information about any programs or to register.