There are many conversations and news articles about the effects of Covid 19 aka Corona Virus and its effects on people making aliyah. The numbers are going up -I say this ambiguously – as it can mean both numbers of Corona cases as well as the deluge of inquiries and applications to organizations like Nefesh B’Nefesh for making Aliyah.
My passion for working with and advising those making or considering aliyah earned me a shout-out in a recent article called The Great Call in Arutz Sheva Israel National News.
There’s much talk buzzing around Facebook Aliyah groups about people wanting to move to Israel but have concerns regarding what they will do for work.
Let me share my story of how I switched careers and then became an entrepreneur and starting my business The Klutter Koach. The story goes back about 30 years.
When I was in high school I wanted to be a massage therapist. My mom has been a lifelong migraine sufferer and I used to ease her pain with massage. I was told I had talent by friends who also wanted some relief of neck and shoulder tension. With the idealism of a high school student, I wanted to become a massage therapist (never say masseuse) and work on a cruise ship or in a spa.
My parents nixed that idea and insisted I go to college and get a degree. When I was older I could do what I wanted. So following my parents’ advice, I went to Miami University double majored in Education and Spanish and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education.
I became a teacher of Spanish and ESL. Some years were great, some were less so, but after two decades of teaching I really wanted to be a massage therapist, so with the encouragement of my husband, I started training. After completing a 637-hour program at the Baltimore School of Massage I took and passed the Maryland state licensing exams and could now be a practicing therapist. At this point in time, we were seriously ready to move forward on our aliyah dreams and my plan for work once arriving in Israel was to quit teaching and exclusively do massage.
Just over a year after my retraining (and still teaching part-time) the time was ripe for us to make aliyah. We moved to Karmiel in the North where we stayed for four years. As they say ‘Man Plans, G-d Laughs’, and instead of doing massage, I found myself teaching English going from school to school for short-term maternity coverages having a rare massage client. I didn’t have the Hebrew language skills to advertise to the general public outside of our small Anglo community nor did I know Russian which was the second most spoken language.
My husband’s efforts to find employment were even more difficult than mine, and after four years of unimaginable stress, we packed up and headed to Bet Shemesh in Central Israel, a community with many English speakers, situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I had more teaching opportunities but the language barrier of teaching native Israelis was a big challenge and I finally turned in my teacher hat and took a job for an Anglo company doing online research.
Taking two steps back in the story, prior to retraining in massage I wanted to use my language skills to write. I was interested in writing magazine articles or doing editing work so the advice given to me was that if I wanted to go into writing, I needed writing samples. From this suggestion, I started my blog.
Another piece of advice that had been given was if you want to earn some extra cash, take something you have talent in and monetize it. Organizing is something I’ve been doing since 1st grade when I used to circulate the classroom tidying up everyone’s desks. I was constantly rearranging my closet, and always got a thrill of adrenaline in places like the Container Store. I had done some organizing for friends and family for fun plus a few jobs for pay and decided going in the direction of home organizing was something to pursue.
Fast forward, I have left teaching, run my home organizing business, and do some freelance editing on the side. I have an occasional massage client but haven’t done an ad blast to announce that I do it. (..but I could if I wanted to.) A wise friend said it is economically responsible to have more than one income stream and Hashem will send you what you need when you need it.
So continuing with my story, I work with a variety of people who need my services, whether a senior couple who is downsizing and needs my assistance or a busy mom who needs a hand with decluttering.
One population I service is the Olim population (Olim are people who made aliyah). I love unpacking their newly arrived boxes and setting up their kitchens or other areas of the home in a logical and orderly manner. I also help those who have been here a bit longer to downsize when they realize they have “too much stuff” regardless of what they got rid of before moving.
Whether a new oleh, or someone more established, if a client has items to give away, one service I provide is freecycling the giveaways within the community. As they say “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” so in addition to keeping usable items out of the landfill, I “make a shidduch” between one party’s giveaways and another party who can use them. In many instances, giveaways go to other new Olim, some who come with very little and need to re-acquire things that got rid of before their move.
My blog now complements the business with over 30 posts in a series calledThe Aliyah Files which includes many articles on downsizing and decluttering. The question of what one should do with their “stuff” is a question that comes up all the time and these articles are a good resource on the how-tos.
Since many of the aliyah discussions take place on social media and not everyone hangs out on these platforms, I’m always happy to answer questions about my experience or give advice about things in the jurisdiction of “your stuff”. Feel free to message me here.
So that’s the story of my career path and how it evolved. You need to have a little creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and a positive attitude to explore possibilities you may not have considered. Also, utilize and broaden your network of contacts because you just never know who may be able to help you in your job search.
Thanks for reading.
Karen, The Klutter Koach