Are You Too Old to Make Aliyah?

There has been a very popular discussion thread taking place on the Nefesh B’Nefesh LinkedIn¬†group for more than 2 weeks regarding older olim, employment and living in the northern part of Israel.

There were more than 100 comments when I logged in tonight and I became concerned about an air of negativity that was rising.

Let’s put things in perspective shall we? How is the IT job market in the US for the over-50 crowd right now? Yeah, I thought so… we made Aliyah when I was 50 and my husband 52. During the 10 years prior to that in NY, WV, TN and OH he (a senior level DBA and Chemical Process Engineer) was unemployed for a sum total of approximately 3.5 years. My very secure Internet Content Editor position with Deloitte and Touche was moved to a different state at a time I wasn’t in a position to relocate and my Senior Technical Writer position with a mortgage bank went away when they fell on hard times.

Lesson learned: there is no such thing as job security. Senior level people can make a good living as Consultants. We learned that my husband could do trouble-shooting contracting to a variety of companies (thru outsourcing firms) and earn $50 to $75 per hour – this made up for the down-time.

We came to Israel not knowing exactly how we would earn a living and we exhausted our savings during the first 13 months that he was still unemployed. Then he landed an “employee” position with a big company here – decent money and great benefits. Guess what – the same thing happened to him here that happened when he was an employee in the US… he fixed everything that was broken, automated tasks and worked himself out of a job!

Consulting in Israel can be a challenge if you aren’t fluent in Hebrew, however, there is a niche market of mainly English-speaking companies and non-profits – AND they’ll pay 200 to 300+ NIS per hour to consultants to solve their problems.¬† If consulting isn’t for you, don’t fret – there are many possibilities here.

I worked as an employee for an Israeli hi tech start-up for 6 months and learned all about their thought processes (fyi – many Israelis think “planning” is a 4-letter word) – they (and many others like them from what I’m hearing from other olim) are short-sighted and foolish in their goals. This presents a tremendous opportunity for Americans (or people from anywhere, really) who have good solid work ethic and rich experience. If you want to know more write to me.

There is grant money available for new olim to start businesses and if a group were to pool resources, a solid business or two (or twenty…) could be formed and many older olim who feel the need to be employees could realize that dream. There are lawyers and accountants in Israel who provide pro-bono or highly discounted assistance to olim to help get them on their feet. The first one who comes to mind is Attorney Tzvi Szajnbrum – read his blog at

The government also subsidizes vocational training for those who decide they’d like to retrain to improve their skillset or do something different.

I found myself needing to do a skills assessment and put on my marketing hat to find clients who need a variety of hi tech and marketing services and in doing so I’ve gained valuable skills in the latest marketing medium – social media marketing – as a result.

Are we living up to the economic standards we enjoyed in the US? No, not yet – we don’t have 3 vehicles in the garage or a huge house, BUT WE’RE LIVING IN ISRAEL!!! Baruch Hashem! And with one child still in school we’re saving more than $10k / year in US private school tuition. But best of all I can see Jerusalem from my home office!

There are tradeoffs in every situation – and trade ups. Sure, it can be unsettling and even frightening at times, however, where else in the world can we live as Jews according to our own calendar and our traditions without having to apologize for who we are? We are making history! We are pioneers fulfilling prophecy and a most important mitzvah and there is a ton of work to be done here to make this the place it should be.

Create a profile at Job Shuk and start marketing yourself there. I landed a great client – and friend – from Finland via JobShuk. I think my San Francisco client also found me there.

If possible, learn a little bit of Hebrew every week – even if it’s just one word. There are many online resources available, and some that are even free like those offered by Jacob Richman.

YOU MUST THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX to survive anywhere these days!

One final piece of advice: always indicate “English: native tongue” on any application or profile – you’d be amazed at how many English editing jobs I receive after American companies pay someone in India to do work for them!



One thought on “Are You Too Old to Make Aliyah?”

  1. My family and I made Aliyah back in 2010, it was a move that my ex wife and I were at odds with. For me being 50 years old at the time, 7 children, not speaking Hebrew and not arriving with money was quite frightening to say the least.

    While for me it was an insurmountable challenge and I have since divorced and I moved back to the United States while all of my children are living in Israel I did want to express that I had the pleasure of interacting with Tzvi and Jacob and both gentleman where extremely helpful and kind individuals.

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