From Israel to Lehigh Valley: An Adjustment

By Arnon Gavish

We came to Allentown from Israel in August 2012, a relocation for work. My wife, Hagit, works as a director of manufacturing at Palram Americas, an Israeli company that produces thermoplastic sheets. With us are our three children, now ages 7 to 15. We had decided to move to the U.S. because we wanted to make some changes in our life — to experience new places, new culture, and to travel.

The beginning was very difficult for all of us. Imagine sending your kids to a new school in a strange state and with no language and no friends; there were a lot of tears. What helped us to adjust was, first, the Jewish Day School, a community-oriented place with a family atmosphere. Through the school we made a lot of friends, and, of course, we met other Israelis that were here. 

Next, joining and attending formal and informal Jewish community organizations and events helped. These included the Jewish Community Center, BBYO (teen youth group), and then there was my role as Shalshelet coordinator. We learned about the diversity of the Jewish community in America and we love to see how people can practice their Judaism in different ways and still be part of one community. 

One of the main questions that comes up is the connection between American Jews and the State of Israel. It brings up a lot of identity questions related to our sense of belonging. After four years, we can say that we like a lot of things in America: the peaceful people, polite manners and, of course, the feeling of security and well-being. Now we are not sure whether we want to go back to Israel, especially with all the recent changes that are taking place over there.

However, what we miss the most are our families and friends, the Israeli winter and the informal relationships, like when someone comes over to our house without scheduling, opens the door, comes in and makes himself a cup of coffee …



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