Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
This is the fourth part of a series on Aliyah and Klita (absorption) stories of American Jews who came to Israel for ideological and religious reasons in the past years.
I remember my first visit to Israel in 1956. I was attending the first American Bnei Akiva Hachshara training program in Israel. We traveled by ship for two weeks until we finally landed in Haifa.
In those days, everyone was a pioneer and a friend. I vividly recall several incidents while I was hitchhiking around the country. Once, I was hitchhiking from Ashdod to Tel Aviv. A taxi stopped and as I was explaining that I could not afford a taxi, the driver said, “Hop in, I’m not asking you for money. I would like some company on my to Tel Aviv.”
Another time I was lost in Ramat Gan, searching for my Israeli cousin’s apartment where I was to stay for Shabbat. From a nearby porch someone asked what the problem was, and when I explained he said, “It should be nearby, but if you don’t find him, come to our house for Shabbat.” Another time, we were hitchhiking toward Eilat. As night was falling, some workers picked us up. They insisted that we spend the night in their moshav. The next morning, they asked that we stay for a bris because they were going to slaughter a sheep in honor of the bris. It was a different time and a different world.
* * *
Naftali and Evelyn (nee Offenbacher) Stern came on Aliya in 1966, five months after their wedding. Naftali received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern U. in Boston. He was a packaging engineer for Raytheon working on space modules for the NASA flights and for Bendix Electronics, which built air-to-air missile for the United States Air Force. He left behind a chance to make a great deal of money.
In Israel, Naftali did electronic packaging and then ran the Calibration labs at Rafael Industries. He serves today as a consultant in Quality Assurance and Metrology. Seven years ago, he received a Masters degree in Quality Assurance from the Haifa Technion.
Evelyn was a teacher in the United States. In Israel, she studied to be a librarian and has been working at the Mathematics Library in the Technion for over 25 years. Today, she is in charge of the Library.
Naftali and Evelyn raised a family of three girls in Israel. Their oldest daughter, Rachel, lives in Psagot. She is the mother of six and has her own business called “Racheli Itzuvim” – designing different types of Judaica. Their second daughter, Elana, has been a special education teacher for 15 years and is the mother of four. The youngest daughter, Nava, is the Quality Assurance manager at the National Virological Lab at Tel Hashomer Hospital.
* * *
Jay Shapiro graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an MSc in physics and has held technical and management positions with the US Army Ordnance Corps, Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and General Electric Space Systems Division (GESD) before moving to Israel in 1969 to work at Israel Aircraft Industries. He worked in administration on the Lavi project and was Contracts Manager of the Helicopter Systems Program.
Jay has participated in scores of successful proposal efforts including the Night Targeting System (NTS), a combined program for the US Marine Corps and the Israel Air Force, which was the first prime contract for a major weapon system between the U.S. government and an Israeli-led international industrial team.
Since 1994, he has been the General Manager of Erno Contracting Associates, a consulting firm dealing primarily with contracting with the U.S. government. His firm also deals with drafting patents for the United States Patent Office, and with translation of technical documentation from Hebrew to English.
* * *
Pesach (Paul) and Debbie Rogoway gave up a lot to come to live in Israel, and they lost a son here in a car accident, but they do not regret for one moment moving from the “Gan Eden” of Monsey to a two and a half-room apartment in Haifa.
Pesach graduated from Yeshiva College where he majored in mathematics and served in his junior year as Editor-in-Chief of The Commentator. He was then hired by Ramo-Wooldridge, now part of TRW, for a pioneering programming assignment in guided missile flight simulation. He advanced rapidly and was a member of the team that developed the extremely popular PL/I programming language, and later joined IBM where he became, at the age of 28, a Senior Programmer, the highest technical level in IBM. He served in many senior positions and won a prestigious Outstanding Contribution Award for his PL/I development role.
Pesach, originally from Seattle, and his wife Debbie, from LA, met at the Bnei Akiva Moshava in California and married in 1956. They spent a year on Kibbutz Shluchot in 1958-9, returned to the USA, and moved from L.A. to Monsey, where they and their five children lived in a 13-room home on a huge parcel of wooded land.
Those in the know say that Pesach was undoubtedly destined to be a Vice President at IBM, but after the Six Day War, he and Debbie decided it was time to make aliyah. In 1968, they sold their home in Monsey and moved to Haifa, where Pesach became Manager of Elbit Computer’s Software Division. He held several senior management and technical positions in software engineering in Israel.
He later joined Motorola Israel where he founded two successful software development departments, served as Chief Software Engineer, and rose to become Motorola Corporate Director of Software Quality Standards for the entire Motorola worldwide company until 2000, when he took early retirement. While at Motorola, Pesach was responsible for bringing millions of dollars worth of software development projects to Israel.
Pesach is a retired Member of Motorola’s Science Advisory Board Associates (SABA), and is the winner of Motorola Outstanding Impact Awards for contribution to the ISO 9000-3 revision project and the ISO/IEC 15504 project. He now serves as a consultant to companies in Israel and elsewhere in the areas of systems and software process improvement including training, assessment and coaching.
Pesach serves on various international committees and working groups in areas such as systems and software life cycle models, capability assessment, technology and tools, and process improvement. He is Israel’s delegate to several international software standards organizations, including those responsible for ISO/IEC 15504 (SPICE) and ISO 9000-3. He is a founder and chairperson of the Israel Software Process Improvement Network (ISPIN).
Pesach and Debbie live in Petach Tikva, and their children and tens of grandchildren all live in Israel. Debbie worked for many years as a bookkeeper, and has now dedicated her life to her family and to helping many needy friends in the community. Pesach is a member of the Board of Directors of the Yeshiva University Israel Alumni Association and a founder of a computerized Bet Medrash project, which is in the advanced planning stage.
Today, Pesach and Debbie live in a Petach Tikva penthouse, with a pool and Shabbat elevator. Despite his daily stress and total dissatisfaction with the ethical level and irrationality of Israel’s government and the seriously clouded Zionist dream that the government represents, he and his wife feel that they have really made a difference through their way of living. Pesach and Debbie are confident that their commitment and ideas will win out in the end, because, after all, Hashem is on their side.
(To Be Continued)
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