#Meet_the_Oleh Jacob Feldman
Aliyah Date: June 2013
Made Aliyah from the United Kingdom/Belize
Currently living in Tel Aviv
Jacob has lived all over the world, but ultimately ended up back in Israel after being "rescued" from Panama in the first-ever direct flight from Panama to Israel during the Corona pandemic! Read more about his experiences in Israel below.
Originally from Belize and Kosovo, Jacob made Aliyah from the United Kingdom, officially, in 2013, and after a few years abroad, just returned to Israel due to COVID. Jacob left in 2016 and was working in Panama at an Israeli hostel chain, but given the current state of the world thought it better to be in Israel!
Jacob's connection to Israel is unique -- his father is Jewish, and his mother is Bahai (a unique faith that originated from the Middle East, think Bahai Gardens.) Israel is actually one of the only safe places to be "Bahai" in the Middle East. In many Middle Eastern countries, it is forbidden and you can even be put to death for your beliefs. You have to choose Bahai--you're not born into it. And Jacob's relationship with Judaism and Israel was also more on the surface before he came -- he didn't know about it so much.
Still, he managed to find a connection to Israel. While he was living in the UK, he had a weird status where he could live but not work. He ended up working at the kiosks where Israelis sell Dead Sea products in high school. He was working with all Israelis so he taught himself Hebrew. After that, he came to Israel to do Kibbutz Ulpan (Hebrew classes.) He wanted to stay on the kibbutz and so decided to make Aliyah. This proved difficult -- he was having a hard time getting citizenship here because of documents and bureaucracy. After finding his grandmother's ketubah, he finally mentioned that he was related to a distant cousin who was a known figure in Israel, and this last attempt worked. Jacob was able to make Aliyah.
Upon arrival, he went to Kibbutz Yagur and met his best friend. After working for a little while in Eilat, he decided to draft. He had to get his draft pushed forward through his own devices and then was living in Beit Hachayal in Ramat Gan as a soldier. After his service, Jacob was finding it hard to settle down and get a job in Israel, so he became somewhat of a "nomad student" while studying at the Open University. He traveled all over the world. Then came Corona.
Jacob was stuck in Panama in a military quarantine--miraculously, they were able to coordinate a rescue flight. The plane came straight from Israel to Panama and back -- the first-ever direct flight from Panama! Jacob was back in Israel but had to figure out what to do while he was here. That's how he found "Ani Shlishi."
"Ani Shlishi" is an NGO thrift store of sorts in Tel Aviv -- it's technically a charity, and most of the staff are youths from difficult situations. It's run by a former lone soldier, too! Jacob found them when he posted about collecting people's goods to bring to "Ani Shlishi" -- all on his skateboard! He also thinks of the most creative, ridiculous headlines when advertising for "Ani Shlishi" so keep an eye out!
Jacob also found a charity that helps with the refugee situation in Israel, starting with education. The organization runs an afterschool and daycare center, English and Hebrew classes, and he's even starting a soccer club there! It's all on a volunteer basis. Jacob would love to use the skills he's learned while volunteering in a sales or marketing position in Israel (check out his contact details if you know of relevant opportunities!)
Jacob says the best part of his Aliyah has been all the amazing people he has met. "You can find something in common with everyone here," he says, "All of the aliyahs are different, yet we all have a connection".
Jacob says that sometimes the job market can be tough in Israel. He also puts it well when he says, "Israel is like an annoying girlfriend -- no country has the ability to infuriate me like here, but nowhere else is as beautiful and perfect as Israel either.
Jacob recommends learning Hebrew before you come to Israel. There are so many free resources, and you need to know some Hebrew to get around Israel. He says, " It's going to be hard, but it will bring you so much closer to the community."
And isn't that what it's all about? Finding a way to be a part of this diverse community!