She’s 69 and plans to spend a lot of time with her 24 grandchildren. They are 17 and 18 and preparing to join the Israeli Defense Forces. The last two are in their 60s and preparing to live out their lifelong dream. These six people are different, but they all share the same passion — each has decided to live in Israel.
With the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh, which helps new immigrants from the U.S. and the U.K. navigate the red tape associated with resettlement there, the Seattle area said goodbye in July and August to four Jewish residents who flew out of Kennedy Airport in New York to Israel along with 231 others from the U.S. The remaining couple, Tzippy and David Twersky, will depart in September.
Billie Schreiner told JTNews she made her decision the moment she set foot in Ma’aleh Adumim, a settlement of 40,000 outside of Jerusalem.
“Two years ago, Pesach, I was going to visit my good friends,” she told JTNews via email. “I got off the bus in Ma’aleh Adumim, looked around and thought, ‘I need to move here.’”
The divorced mother of four, with a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s in Chinese medicine, added, “it was a solid decision although it took over two years to accomplish it.”
During her first visit to Israel in 1969, Schreiner immersed herself in Hebrew study in an ulpan program and became more religiously observant, but it wasn’t yet the right time for the move.
“I became shomer Shabbos in the middle of a Shlomo Carlebach concert,” said Schreiner. “I wanted to make aliyah but returned to Seattle to help take care of my ailing grandmother. There I married and had four fantastic children.”
Segev Kenner, 18, from Federal Way, now lives in Kibbutz Kissufim, located in the western part of the northern Negev Desert.
Although he was unavailable to speak with JTNews, he told a media agency for Nefesh B’Nefesh he was “going to protect and serve what is ours — that is why the IDF will suit me well.”
Joining Kenner this month are two more Washington State olim, Taeer Avnon, 17, of Seattle, and Yaniv Levy, 18, of Olympia, who were en route from Kennedy Airport when JTNews went to press on NBN’s soldiers’ flight. That flight was organized in cooperation with several Israeli organizations in addition to NBN, including the Jewish Agency for Israel and Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.
Tzippy and David Twersky, longtime Seattle residents with five adult married children between 27 and 39 years old still living in the U.S., admitted that one of the downsides of their decision to move next month is leaving behind family and friends in the States.
Born in Brooklyn, Tzippy Twersky moved to Seattle to marry David, a Boeing engineer who just retired after a 40-year career there.
The two were both raised in Orthodox homes and have long been active in Seattle’s Seward Park Orthodox community.
“It’s been a lifelong dream to live in Israel,” Tzippy Twersky told JTNews. “We have two of our children living there, as well. We’ve actively been planning our aliyah for approximately two years. We’ll be moving to ‘our’ country, our homeland.”
The couple plans to settle in Jerusalem and hopes to volunteer at charitable organizations. They have several friends and relatives in Israel, but the two mainly want to enjoy their grandchildren who live there. Tzippy Twersky said they both look forward to “getting to know our country — living our dream!”
Both Schreiner and the Twerskys have had to downsize their lifestyles and reduce the considerable possessions they’ve collected, saved, and stored over the years as a result of raising families and living in the same house for decades.
For Twersky, the process has been somehow transforming and positive.
“I’m looking forward to downsizing,” she said. “Making Aliyah — moving out of our home that we’ve lived in for 35 years — is a cleansing experience!”
Schreiner, however, found it to be kind of tough.
“I found out that it is easy to be a semi-hoarder in the States,” she said. “You can’t do that in Israel. No garage, the closets are full and, for sure, no extra bedroom. So ‘getting rid of’ was a long-time chore for me. It took me two years but I think I got rid of some personal baggage along with the papers.”