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True Role Models (Part Two)

This is the second 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.


Olim in those days left behind all their friends and much of their family, and, unlike today, found it expensive and difficult to be in contact with them. In America, they had often held high-paying jobs and lived in spacious homes. They were often willing to take entry-level jobs at 20% of their former salary and live in small apartments, in order to be able to live in Israel and contribute to the growth of the country. Unlike the Olim of today, the Olim who came to Israel 10, 20 and 30 years ago could not easily commute or tele-commute with America.

Unlike today, they could not get the clothing, cereals, electronics and other products in Israel that they had become accustomed to in America. Napkins were like wax paper, and toilet paper was like newsprint. They had to learn a new language immediately so that they could work, and there was no one to reduce the bureaucracy for them. People came anyway, because they believed, because they were Zionists, and because they wanted to live in Israel. Here are a few additional examples of those who should serve as the true role models for American Jews.

Yehuda and Becky Pinsky came on Aliyah 20 years ago. Prior to coming on Aliyah, Yehuda served as the Orthodox Rabbi of Allentown, Pa., which made him a very significant force in the Jewish community on all levels. He was also a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America.

Since coming on Aliya, Yehuda has held several important positions and has contributed to Torah education in Israel. He served as the supervisor of informal Torah education (Tarbut Toranit) in the Ministry of Education, as the assistant director of the department for deepening Torah education in the Israeli school system, as the vice-mayor of the Binyamin municipal council (in charge of education and culture), and as the assistant director of the directorate for value-oriented education (Judaism, Zionism and democracy). He is currently the director of the department of in-service teacher training in the Ministry of Education.

Becky Pinsky was an active rebbetzin in the Jewish community of Allentown. She gave shiurim to the women and established the Allentown branch of Emunah Women. Since coming on Aliya, Becky has worked as a kindergarten teacher for 15 years, and is currently the district supervisor for early childhood education in the greater Jerusalem district.

Yehuda and Becky have been very happily married for over 34 years, and have much nachas from their children and grandchildren, all of whom, B”H, live in Eretz Yisrael and continue to fulfill the ideology of Torat Yisrael and Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. Their family photo is on this page.

* * *

Cissie Green Jacobson came on Aliyah in 1968 from W. Hempstead, Long Island with three children, ages eight, five, and two. Their sabra daughter was born in Israel. Cissie was a teacher and her husband, Binyamin Green (z”l), was an electrical engineer at Sperry Gyroscope, earning a very good salary. They lived in a beautiful private house with a basement, backyard and garden. With their combined salaries, they lacked for nothing. Cissie and Binyamin came on Aliyah because they believed that Israel was their real home. They left parents and close family behind in America.

After their Aliyah, Cissie became an English teacher and taught for 30 years, helping improve English instruction in Israel. Her husband Binyamin, z”l, until his death worked at Tadiran and helped develop many important military and consumer products.

Their family is their major contribution to Israel. Their oldest child, Yehudit, a mother of four, is a graduate of the Hebrew University with a B.A. in Economics and Statistics and an M.A. in Business Administration. She works for the Bank of Israel in a very responsible position. Their second daughter, Sivia, the mother of four, has a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and after having worked as a nurse for several years, has studied for a Masters and Doctorate in Genetics. She teaches in the nursing school of Tel Aviv University. Their son, Noam, a father of four, is getting his Masters in Jewish Studies and Philosophy at the Hebrew University. He works as a high school teacher in two Jerusalem schools. Their youngest daughter and only sabra, Shlomit, is a mother of five and is a social worker in Kiryat Malachi.

* * *

Menachem Bloch made Aliyah in 1949, soon after the end of the War of Independence. He grew up in Philadelphia and in New York. During his student days, he taught in his Alma Mater, Yeshiva University’s Talmudical Academy and in the Yeshiva of Flatbush (where he was offered a steady teaching position and much more). After six summers of camp counseling [including four in the Hebrew-speaking camp "Massad"], he was offered a job as the director of a summer camp and the post of principal of a school in Cincinnati. He turned the job down when the armistice was signed in Palestine in 1949.

He had wanted to go to live in Israel for many years, but his parents had objected to allow him to go to a war-torn country. In 1949, his parents could no longer oppose his making Aliyah (although they beseeched him not to go, but rather to “view the land from afar” and to content himself with helping raise a generation who would identify with their brethren, their tradition and their culture).

In Israel, after completing his two-year army training, he served in many positions. He was the academic secretary of Mishlav and then became the registrar at Bar-Ilan University, from its opening in 1955 till the first class received its BA diplomas in 1959. He was the executive secretary of the Association of Hebrew Book Publishers, and the Director of the Yachdav Publishing House. He also served as a senior teacher of English at Bar Ilan University, and is the author of a series of textbooks.

* * *

Reuven Werber lived in New York and earned a BA from Brooklyn College. He served as the national director of Bnei Akiva and is happily married to Linda Goldstein from Chicago. He and his wife moved to Israel in 1970. Reuven and his wife became members of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion 29 years ago, and he served in the early years as a shepherd, metal worker, kibbutz secretary, education chairman and the religious committee chairman. Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, their home for the last 29 years, lies in the heart of the Hebron hills in Israel. The mountains around breathe the history of the Jewish people from the days of the Biblical Patriarchs until this very day.

He calls his wife, Linda, his “best friend and companion.” She is primarily responsible for the success of their family, the functioning of their household, their marital bliss, and the health of Kfar Etzion’s members. (She is Kfar Etzion’s public health nurse.). They B”H have six children. Tehila and Salit are their two married daughters – Tehila and her husband, Arik, are kibbutz members and have four children. Salit and her husband, Menachem, have just recently left the kibbutz and have two children. Moshe is presently visiting the USA, and Didi is serving in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Reuven is a PhD Candidate in Information Studies at Bar Ilan University. During the last 15 years, he has been working at the Neveh Channah Torah High School for Girls in Gush Etzion, where he serves as the Ed Tech Coordinator. He teaches Oral Jewish Law and Jewish Thought.

In the last few years, he has also devoted a great deal of time to developing the Information Literacy – Technology Program. The Neveh Channah Torah High School has entered AT&T’s international web construction contest for schools. Together with their partners from Pasco, WA, USA and Aberdeen, Hong Kong, they are working on researching and presenting a media-politics project. Reuven is also an instructor of technological pedagogy at the Herzog Teachers’ College.

* * *

Susie Cohen came on Aliya in 1963 from Brooklyn, NY. She finished her B.A. degree in Brooklyn College, came to Israel and studied librarianship at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

She has devoted 39 years to serving as a senior bibliographer at the Jewish National and University Library. Susie also edits the bibliography on anti-Semitism for the Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University. This bibliography is available on the Internet and in 17 published volumes to date.

(To Be Continued)

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