Eric Cohen's Aliyah Story

an Israeli kibbutz

Eric made Aliyah from Holland just under 30 years ago.

Moving to Israel was a long standing dream of his, but didn’t get realized until he was past his teen years. Life in Amsterdam was always exciting, but in the early 1980’s, this vibrant Dutch city was no match for the inner calling that haunted Eric. It was not an easy decision to leave his family and set off alone, but the world was already shrinking in terms of international travel, and the journey to Israel was therefore also not as long time wise, as it was in previous decades.

The north of Israel held a special appeal to this young man, and he soon found himself working in a kibbutz. It had been an earlier visit to a kibbutz that had helped him make up his mind to make Aliyah in the first place.

In 1985, Eric served in the IDF for a year with Nahal. He also continued his studies, gaining a diploma as a social worker with problematic children. However in Israel, employment opportunities can happen in the most unlikely areas.

While Eric continued to also work in a kibbutz, his social skills were duly noted and he rose steadily through the ranks. Since 2003, Eric worked within a division producing hand measuring tools for the construction and DIY industry. Under his guidance, they were able to produce 16 million dollars in annual sales revenue, of which 40% was directly attributed to his own sales & marketing efforts with satisfied international clients.

After 20 years in the industry, and major industrial changes, Eric decided to explore other options. Now married with three wonderful children, it was a brave decision to venture out into unknown waters.

I met with Eric at the OU Job Fair, and stayed in touch afterwards to see how he was getting along. Eric voiced a previous concern about his advancing age (he’s now 52 years old), and was unsure if employers at that event would wish to interview him.

As it turned out, Eric was warmly received by over 6 potential employers. At the time of writing this article, he had entered into advanced negotiations with one particular employer.

He is candid about his main ongoing concerns which has now shifted from age related issues to travel ones. Eric lives in the beautiful Galilee region of northern Israel. However, it is harder to travel from there to the main commercial centers that relates to his line of work. Another area of challenge relates to high tech skills, which represents an obvious area of on-going and regularly updated knowledge, to stay in touch with many industries.

Regarding the OU Job Fair, Eric was very impressed and praised this excellent initiative. In summary, it is possible to gain some useful insight about making Aliyah, from Eric’s encouraging story. First and foremost should be to remain optimistic regardless of age issues. Employers have specific needs and one main issue concerns one’s ability to meet those requirements.

Another lesson relates to geographical location in Israel. Aliyah Magazine is dedicated towards representing the best interests of our Aliyah Community. This includes voicing concerns about the need to invest in an employment infrastructure along with a housing one, when government initiatives are directed at settling the far north and southern regions of Israel. Eric helpfully suggested that the Job Fair was such a wonderful event, attracting so many skilled job seekers, that more employers from other regions in Israel could do both themselves and Israel a favor by attending future events.

The question of basic high-tech knowledge can be better answered through OU. This sterling Jewish organization has developed a free program that actually helps to prepare job seekers towards meeting the growing needs of industry. Furthermore, these programs are not limited to one’s age. Indeed in Judaism, the greeting of wishing one a long life ‘until 120 years old’ also implies that one enters middle age from 60 years old upwards!

We wish Eric Cohen much success and encourage potential employers to make contact with him through either our website or directly to OU. AM also suggests to unaffiliated Jews that the OU should be an obvious starting point towards strengthening ties with a local Jewish community and ultimately with our own Aliyah Community.

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