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Arrivals: Debbie and Daniel Horowitz: From Caracas to Kfar Saba


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Date of Aliya: April 20, 2005

'You need that time, not just...

'You need that time, not just for the language, but to get to know other people in the same situation. We made friends [in the absorption center] and we had time to adapt to Israeli society,' Debbie says.
Photo: Courtesy

Status: Married plus one

When they read about what is going on in the country of their birth, Venezuela, Debbie and Daniel Horowitz are happier than ever that they decided to make aliya three years ago and now live in Kfar Saba with their six-year-old son, Yoel.

"There has always been a certain level of anti-Semitism there, but now it's more than usual," says Debbie. "The people themselves are friendly and it was more on a government level, as it sees Iran and Cuba as partners."

They always knew they would come to Israel and they came for Zionist reasons rather than because they were running away from any threat.

"We are worried for our friends there, but we try not to get emotionally involved," Daniel says. "We want to put all our energies into succeeding in Israel."

FAMILY BACKGROUND

His parents were born after the war. His grandparents on his mother's side were from Romania and survived the camps, and his mother was born in Italy. His father's family had fled to the West Indies, and he was born in Trinidad. Her grandparents on her mother's side had come from Palestine to Venezuela to start a business and her mother was born in Panama. Her grandparents on her father's side had come after the war from Romania to Venezuela where her father was born.

BEFORE ARRIVAL

They married in Caracas in 1999. They had both had a good Jewish education and Daniel worked as a teacher of roots projects in a Jewish school and also had a company building Web sites. Debbie was a manager in a store and worked in Internet programming. Their son, Yoel, was born in 2003.

UPON ARRIVAL

They went straight to the absorption center in Ra'anana and joined the ulpan there.

"We knew Hebrew from our schooling, but we still recommend that all new immigrants go to the ulpan and refresh their Hebrew," Debbie says. "You need that time, not just for the language, but to get to know other people in the same situation. We made friends there and we had time to adapt to Israeli society."

They also attended a program run by the Jewish Agency which helps prepare people to enter the workforce by teaching how to compose CVs and behave in interviews.

They put Yoel into a kindergarten and both did part-time work during the time they were learning Hebrew. Debbie did some baby-sitting, Daniel worked in translations and in customer support for an Internet company and they both acted as extras in a movie being filmed in the absorption center, which they enjoyed.

WORK

Eventually Daniel found permanent work building and running the Web site of MichaelUnique, a Judaica gift store in Ra'anana, and stayed in this job for almost three years. Debbie worked in marketing but for the moment is on maternity leave, the baby being due in a few weeks.

Daniel changed jobs and now works for an Internet company called MyHeritage, a family network Web site with software and Internet tools for people to investigate their genealogy. As far as he is concerned, it's the perfect job.

"Genealogy is my passion," he says. "That's basically what I taught in Caracas. So now I work with the computer, the Internet and genealogy; I couldn't be happier."

LIVING ENVIRONMENT

After two years they bought a pleasant four-room apartment in a modern building in Kfar Saba near the parents, who help out a lot with picking up Yoel from Gan. Between her parents and his, they have a schedule worked out for every day.

ROUTINE

Before Debbie's maternity leave they both worked very hard, out early in the morning and home about seven.

"We have dinner together and put Yoel to bed then perhaps do a bit of housework," says Daniel. "Do I help make the dinner? Well, if I don't cook it, I bring it."

Once a month they have a meeting of the Jewish Family Research Association, a genealogy group for which Daniel is the webmaster.

CIRCLE

They have friends from many walks of life and many countries. There are friends from work, friends from the absorption center and parents of other children in nursery school with Yoel. There are job friends and old friends from Venezuela who settled here before they did. They estimate there are 10 to 15 Venezuelan families in Kfar Saba alone.

FINANCES

When they first arrived, they were overwhelmed with the amount of financial help they got from both the government and family, as well as from total strangers who donated used furniture. They both earn enough to live on and even save a little. Going to eat at the parents or having them baby-sit helps to reduce their expenses.

FAITH

"We're traditional," they say. In Caracas they used to go to synagogue every Friday night but find that it's much harder here.

"There we had a three-day weekend, but here we have to run around getting things done and Friday is our only free time," Daniel says. But they try to go on festivals and impart Jewish values to their son.

IDENTITY

"We are 100 percent Israelis, with some percentage of Venezuelan," Daniel says. "We can never forget we came from there, grew up there and still have some family living there."

PLANS

"To keep working hard and try to be happy every day. To keep our children safe, to enjoy life and travel."

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