Meet_The_Oleh: Jake Miller
Aliyah Date: 2014
Hometown: Kent, Ohio
Current City: Tel Aviv
We don’t always choose Israel. Often, Israel chooses us.
For many new olim, a life in Israel was never in the cards. Israel was the distant Zionist dream, perfect for a meaningful visit, a place to send our money to, a country for our yearly vacations. Israel was our homeland, but not our home.
Yet for so many, we come to explore our miraculous homeland, and Israel just doesn’t seem to want us to leave.
For Jake Miller of Kent, Ohio, his story looked something like this. Miller’s story with Israel began at age 18 when he came for 3 weeks before university, giving him just enough to leave him wanting more! Years later, he chose to come back to Israel for a more immersive experience, through Masa’s Destination Israel program, a 5-month internship program based in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv. He wanted something less touristy and more authentic. He wanted the “real” Israel.
As Miller’s time with Masa came to an end, Jake knew he wasn’t yet done with Israel, and decided to stay a bit longer. It gave him a chance to explore the land, the culture, the people, and ultimately, to fall in love with Israel as a home of his own. He was offered a job at CrossFit Tel Aviv after spending many hours training there during his time as a Masa intern months before, and settled into a life on his own in Tel Aviv. He made deeper friendships, and spent his time learning the language and acclimating as best as possible.
Slowly, Jake began to open his eyes to the successful and fulfilling life he had already created here. The pieces of a life in Israel naturally fell into place. It was clear where he was being led. And Miller jumped right in.
For Jake, his work at CrossFit Tel Aviv was a big reason that a fulfilling life in Israel was possible. He found his community there, and in no time, he rose up to become manager of Fight TLV, CrossFit Tel Aviv’s martial arts department. Eventually, Jake bought Fight TLV as his own, and wakes up excited to go to work each day.
“I don’t have a background in martial arts, which actually allowed me to join Fight TLV as a part of the community, as a member, instead of just as the owner. In the world of martial arts, community is really integral to its culture. And being a part of the community here is what makes it so special to me.”
Together with other co-workers who are olim as well from out of town, Jake has created a space that is open and friendly for non-natives as well. Fight TLV even works with organizations like Masa Israel, who bring people from all over the world to Israel, and offers special deals to their participants, as a way to give back and support their journeys here!
But as important as it is for Jake to hold onto his Anglo roots, integrating into Israeli society is his biggest philosophy for success.
“Integrating is a really big deal. It is how you make it feel like it is home. We can all find our American bubbles, but until you can integrate it with the beautiful culture here, you won’t really get the full experience. A lot of people go home as a result of that.”
Working hard to fully immerse himself as an Israeli is what helped make Jake’s transition here so natural. While many olim experience the turbulent ups and downs of a new life, Jake’s came with ease, and he allowed himself to flow with it.
What’s his secret?
Jake lets life unfold before him without having all of the answers, and is okay with that!
“Sometimes we have no idea where life will take us, we have no idea what the next step is, and that is okay, as long as we are always checking in with ourselves to see what feels right.”
But that doesn’t mean there is no hard work, and Jake believes it’s the effort we put in that we receive in return.
“As much as you invest in the people and the place around you, that is what you will come back to you. The effort is worth it. It’s what helps you create a home here in Israel, and what makes you belong. Just remember that sometimes, you may have to ask for help!”
Want to find Jake at Fight TLV? Check him out here!