Daniel didn’t set this website up to be his personal soapbox. But as the site has only been online for about a day, nobody has volunteered to share their story yet (although if you’re interested, be in touch!). So here goes. Written awkwardly in the third person because … there’s nobody else on hand to actually write this.
Who are you?
My name is Daniel Rosehill.
Where did you make aliyah from?
How did you make aliyah? Did you come on a Nefesh b’Nefesh flight?
I think I filled out the Nefesh b’Nefesh paperwork. But making aliyah from a place with almost no Jewish community, there wasn’t really much infrastructure in place or people to ask what to do. So I was basically winging it and hoping that I didn’t screw up the paperwork. I remember visiting NBN in Israel and the Jewish Agency in London (I had to make a trip over especially). I remember that the shaliach (emissary) there seemed to be going in for very much a hazing approach and was constantly probing me as to whether I really wanted to make aliyah and kind of strongly intimating that maybe it was better not to go. I don’t know if this kind of thing is common. And finally getting the consular stamp from the Israeli Embassy (in Dublin). And that’s pretty much it.
My ultimate experience of making aliyah was not the stuff of NBN fairytales either.
The flight from Cork (to Heathrow) arrived before the El Al flight to Israel had even opened its check-in counter. So there was literally nothing else to do than check into a Wetherspoon’s (discount English bar chain) at about 07:00am where I found refuge, a place to put my luggage down (olim get three suitcases on their aliyah flight), and, more importantly, beer.
It was also a completely standard El Al flight — as in a totally regular flight between Heathrow and Ben Gurion. There was no fanfare. I didn’t even know whether there were any other olim on the flight. When I finally got to Israel there was supposed to be some guy waiting there (from Misrad HaKlita) who never showed up. And then the taxi driver kind of chaotically strapped my suitcases to the roof of his vehicle and that was that. So from end to end, just about the complete opposite of the photo op flight that gets portrayed in the media. No politicians. No photographers. Not even a bureaucrat to say hello on the other side. So my life in chutz la’aretz sort of came to its conclusion drinking lager in a Wetherspoon’s at seven in the morning.
Why did you choose Jerusalem?
Who chooses Jerusalem? Just kidding.
The Jewish Agency determined that I was an “academic” because I had a college degree (related: a Hebrish glossary). So they wanted to send me to Ulpan Etsion. Then it was a case of: which one to go to? That goes by date because the various Ulpan Etsions begin at different times during the calendar year.
So when I was planning on making aliyah, which was around autumn, the options were either Ramle or Jerusalem. The Jewish Agency ended up opting me into Ramle sort of without me saying that I actually wanted to go there. I don’t say this to badmouth the Jewish Agency. Just to say that you need to get into the mindset of advocating for yourself even before you arrive in Israel.
For somebody not familiar with how Israel works the idea of somebody enlisting you somewhere you don’t want to go might seem … quite shocking. But that’s just the Israeli balagan culture in action. Also: nobody mentioned to me that there were ulpans in Tel Aviv and evidently I didn’t find out either. Again, you need to know your stuff and it helps a lot if you’re in a functioning Jewish community so you have friends/relatives to ask about these things. But I think it was hasgachah pratit that sent me to Jerusalem.
What is living in Jerusalem like?
The truth is that I have every mixed feelings about the city despite living here for six years.
It’s Israel’s capital and the Zionist in me wants to like it and make my life here for that reason. But sometimes it feels like the city seems to do everything in its power to dissuade people from living here. Employment opportunities in Jerusalem are thin on the ground compared to the merkaz (center of Israel). I’ve found noise pollution to be endemic (there’s a construction vehicle outside my window as I type this). Our arnona (municipal taxes) and rent are both high. Of course the idea of building up Jerusalem is necessary so that people have places to live. But I feel like the balance isn’t being properly struck between development and the needs of local residents. At least in certain neighborhoods and some of the time. Jerusalem is more than just a theoretical construct these days. It’s a place that people actually call home.
At the same time there’s something oddly likable about Jerusalem that — even after half a decade in the city — it’s hard to exactly pinpoint. I think the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv pull and push is very much like the dynamic that exists between Cork and Dublin in Ireland, which is kind of a friendly rivalry.
Everybody who grows up in Jerusalem dreams of leaving for Tel Aviv or elsewhere in the merkaz where there are jobs and nightclubs and and more opportunity. People in Cork often want to get out to Dublin and London and Australia for the same reason. It’s too small and parochial. There aren’t enough jobs. But like Cork, Jerusalem kind of ends up holding a place in people’s hearts. Many who grew up here have an odd attachment to it. Even Israelis that now live abroad speak fondly of the special Jerusalem atmosphere.
The other nice thing about Jerusalem is that there’s at least one of everything.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that Jerusalem doesn’t give Ibiza a run for its money in terms of nightlife and bars. But there are enough to keep me happy. There are a few gyms. Not enough, in my opinion, but a few. A DJ store for those into that. A kosher Korean place in the Old City (albeit vegetarian). Again, it’s not cosmopolitan in the same way that say London or New York is but … you find yourself oddly content with what’s here at the same time and not particularly lacking for any experience. (Exception: there are currently no Indian kosher meat restaurants in Jerusalem. This needs to change!)
If I had a brilliant startup idea, which I do every few years (this was intended sarcastically) I would love to found a company in the city and create jobs. Because I think that’s what’s badly needed. People talk about Jerusalem in ideological terms and strengthening the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and I think that pragmatism often goes out the window in the process. This is a poor city that needs more jobs so that people can have reasons to stay here (and to be able to do so). But right now, I’m just focused on making a living.
What do you think about living in Israel?
Again, I have mixed feelings.
The main difficulty I see here [in Israel] is the cost of living.
As a young person that makes an average salary (actually I make no salary at all, I’m self-employed), I see just surviving month to month as the biggest challenge. It’s pressurizing in a way that you don’t quite feel elsewhere. Because our cost of living is massively high and our salaries are by and large low. It’s hard to feel long term optimism about living in a place when the idea of buying a house seems preposterous.
Professionally, it’s also been a mixed bag. I don’t want to make this interview sound like a plea for help. I would just say that I haven’t seen the kind of opportunities that would excite me locally. There are careers that seem to translate well into Israel and others that have a lot more difficulty: and I think that specializing in marketing communications in a non English-speaking country is always going to be inherently challenging. Working for myself is fun but .. it’s a lot of work.
But I’m here essentially because of Zionism. I think that if Jews have their own country they need to be here building it up even if it’s not always financially rewarding to do so or (at times) easy. I think that if we have a place where we’re normal — the mainstream — then it’s illogical to live somewhere where we’re a tiny minority, which is basically everywhere but Israel. My decision to live here is basically that simple. And that’s why, even though I grumble about many things here, I’ve stayed this long.
Other good things are the weather. I love falafel and Ethiopian food. Israel is a wonderful place to make a living, in my opinion. The caveat is that it takes a lot to be able to afford it in terms of salary. I think it’s a travesty that our politicians or electorate doesn’t seem to consider this an important issue. Or at least they don’t from my perspective.
Did you consider living elsewhere?
I was thinking about leaving Ireland after high school. I applied, and got offers from, several programs overseas, including in the US. I think I ended up staying in Ireland mostly for family reasons. I actually regret not coming to Israel at that juncture. The younger you come, the quicker you can integrate and pick up the language and culture.
Do you know other Irish people here?
One of the nice things about coming from an aliyah community without many …participants … is that there’s no default olim bubble for you to get sucked into.
There are older Irish olim living in Herzlia and Netanya but I haven’t had much contact with them.
I know two guys from Ireland living in Jerusalem and a couple more in Tel Aviv. One is a marketing consultant who lives in my neighborhood. While it’s nice to hear the odd Irish accent, I actually like the fact that there aren’t many Irish olim. The only negative is having to repeatedly answer the same questions like: “are there Jews in Ireland?” which get old very quickly. There’s a lot to be said for making friends just to get past the olim introductions once and for all.
What do you do for a living?
After managing marketing communications at a startup, the same job essentially as I did in Ireland before coming here, I started my own company that provides writing services to technology clients, marketing agencies, and entrepreneurs.
I try to focus more on thought leadership and less on “content.” Without wishing to sound negative (I would guess that I’m failing!) I actually really hate the word “content” because I think it just makes all writing sound generic, and the next step is devaluing and underappreciating it — and that problem is endemic in this industry. It’s also almost impossible to get across to Israelis that not everything that involves words in English is “content” and might serve non-SEO objectives like brand positioning and awareness. Which is why I think I haven’t connected so well with the local market.
I work with some clients in Israel and others abroad. I’m a strong advocate for working with clients all over the world for those that are freelancing as I think people get pidgeon-holed into thinking that the only work available is in Tel Aviv just because they’re here and they speak English and there’s a demand.
Yes, it’s a truism, but there’s an entire world of English speaking clients out there from Hong Kong to California. With Zoom and a good webcam, you’re basically good to go.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Even though I studied something unrelated as an undergraduate, I originally wanted to get into journalism. I ran a student news website, freelanced for some publications, and even studied it at postgrad level in London. Covering the first State visit of a British monarch to an independent Ireland is still my career highlight — it was watching history from about five meters away and the sense of occasion was palpable.
Writing journalism, and about issues, is still kind of my first love and part of what I do for fun in my spare time. But after studying that, when I came back to Ireland, I got pulled into the corporate communications side of things by taking my first marketing job at a friend’s startup (Ecanvasser, a political technology company). I did a brief journalistic stint in Israel working as a copy editor at a major newspaper. I received a job offer at their competitor. But, to be blunt, the salaries were unlivable. So I ended up taking a job at a PR firm instead.
Technology is cool (I’m a big Linux fan) but ultimately I care more about shaping conversations and debates and even thought about going into political communications and speechwriting at one point. Right now, I’m trying to figure out a way to blend more passion / non-profit work into my service offering, and move a little bit away from writing and more into PR and marketing strategy side of things. I’m thinking about working more with the non-profit sector for this reason and doing a little less work with technology companies.
As to Israel: whether I’m here or elsewhere depends on whether I can make it work here which is a question that’s in a monthly state of flux. Right now, for me, that means exploring the international market a lot. I’d like to do a bit more travelling once the world opens up. For business primarily. Ultimately I’d like to continue making a life here. But I don’t see commitment to Israel and being open to the idea of leaving for a period as mutually exclusive. I’d like to reach the point where I can say “this is home and forever will be.” But I’m not at that stage yet.
How can other olim help you?
If you want to help, you can always send on freelance writing and marketing strategy leads. But know that I’m picky and my rates aren’t cheap. Still interested?
How can you help other olim?
I’ve done things like write press releases for friends, help friends self-publish on Amazon (KDP). I’ve ghosted interview responses for friends. Written short books for them. That sort of thing. People call on me for writing and communications and technology questions and for coming up with zany ideas which is kind of my specialty. If I have time and there’s something somebody needs help with, I’d be happy to try to help. But bli neder as they say.
Daniel, thank you (from Daniel).
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