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#Meet_the_Oleh Chantelle Leiderman

Aliyah Date: June 2016

Made Aliyah from Los Angeles, California

Currently living in Tel Aviv

Many times people find something unexpected in Israel--for Chantelle, it was meeting her husband on her Taglit trip! Keep reading to hear about her journey serving in the army and making her life in Israel.

Olah Chantelle Leiderman sitting outside a restaurant

Originally from LA, Chantelle made Aliyah four and a half years ago. She lives in Tel Aviv with her husband, who she had met on her Birthright trip!

But her ending up in Israel stemmed from a few things. She had just graduated from university and she was very involved with Zionist and pro-Israel advocacy on her campus. She even founded a Pro-Israel organization at her university! She went to Israel for the first time through Taglit during her third year in university. She met her now-husband on that trip--he was one of the soldiers!

She kept in touch with him through her final year of university, and they held a long-distance relationship while he was in the army and she finished up school. She thought maybe she will move to Israel, but she wasn't certain. And in the end...she did! When Chantelle made Aliyah, she decided to join the army. She was a little older than her peers, but she considered it an important way to integrate into the culture and learn the language! She enlisted in the army for two years, and she is really glad she did. She finds her Hebrew improved so much during this time. She says, "When you get out of Ulpan, you understand a lot of Hebrew. In the army you don't have a choice when it comes to speaking -- you have to do it to get by."

A selfie of Olah Chantelle Leiderman in her IDF uniform with hills behind her

Now, Chantelle works for a consulting company doing content editing. She also does freelance editing on the side (you can check out her Facebook page at the top for inquiries!)

The greatest challenge for Chantelle has been settling into a career. There are fewer options in Israel in some ways. She wanted to do something related to Israeli advocacy, but there are only a select few organizations doing that here. Or you need to be proficient in reading and writing and Hebrew, and that is also hard for a new immigrant. Chantelle had to find something that fit her skills, and being in the army helped her gain confidence there. You have to try out a lot of different things and figure out what suits you and fits your language skills!

Olah Chantelle Leiderman and her husband holding hands under a wedding huppah
Photo credit: Splashes of Time Photography

The best part of Aliyah for Chantelle is, of course, her husband. But she also feels at home in Israel in a way that she never did in the States. It's hard to put your finger on that feeling, but a lot of Olim feel the same. Someone will always help you here if you need it.

The other experience Chantelle values is her army experience. This is something unique to Israel that she could not have gotten in America in the same way.

Chantelle advises those making Aliyah learn the language as fast and well as they can. It's the key to integrating into the culture, making Israeli friends, etc. It's also the pathway to feeling a part of the country.

You also have to know how to ask for help here. Chantelle says, "I was not that kind of person in the States. Aliyah taught me that sometimes you need to ask for help, and it's fine! It's not a weakness, it's actually a strength!"


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