New olim with creativity, enthusiasm and originality are alive and kicking, judging by the recent EXPO fair organized by Secret Tel Aviv, which took place at Dizengoff Center. At the fair, olim from countries including the U.S., England, Canada, Brazil and South Africa explained the new businesses and services they have devised, in the hopes of interesting other olim and the general public in what they had to offer. And what a variety there was!
An internet site for restaurant recommendations, a matchmaking service with a difference, cooking classes with an emphasis on health, affordable fitness classes, a currency transfer service and a mother’s group that organizes donations of unwanted furniture, clothing and equipment for charity were just a few of the 20 plus services on offer.
This is the second year the Olim Fair has been offered, according to Jonathan Stark, 28, who runs Secret Tel Aviv and was an organizer of the Olim Fair. “Last year, we held it in a pub and we had 15 participants. This year, Dizengoff Center offered us the use of their Galleria area, free of charge.” Since about 40,000 people frequent Dizengoff Center every day, the venue offered impressive exposure.
Jonathan himself came on aliyah five years ago from England, with a background in consulting. He started Secret Tel Aviv (www.secrettelaviv.com) as a way to share recommendations with his friends and it has now developed into a public Internet/Facebook group with some 55,000 subscribers, growing by 2,500 a week. Subscribers receive a free newsletter every week by email, offering information such as interesting shops, restaurants and activities in Tel Aviv, mainly aimed at a young crowd. There are also lists of sublets, job offers and tickets to events.
Some of the other exhibitors included:
Tel Aviv Mothers Make a Difference
Chloe Sandler, who came from Manchester five years ago, started her Facebook group after she witnessed a refugee mother in Tel Aviv covering her baby with a plastic bag, because she lacked proper clothing. “It broke my heart,” she said. Her group of volunteers now collects unneeded clothing, equipment such as strollers and cribs, diapers and dry food, and distributes what they collect to the needy, including those in the Ethiopian, refugee and haredi communities.
Facebook: Tel Aviv Mothers Make a Difference
Have you priced membership in health clubs and gyms lately? If you have, you’ll know that they are often out of the financial range of people of modest income. Daniel and Joel Yekutiel, two brothers and fitness trainers from England, aim to solve that problem by offering reasonably priced fitness classes in Tel Aviv and Herzliya. For from NIS 150 a month, members can choose as many classes as they want from the almost 50 offered weekly.
“Our motto is fitness made simple,” says Daniel. They do that by running their classes outdoors in public areas. And if it’s cold outside? “Cold is no excuse,” he says, smiling. Their workout sessions include Pilates, yoga, running and something called TRX, which is a system using straps and loops attached to trees and applying body weight as resistance. He adds that there are classes suitable for every age and there is an App available to book or cancel classes. They are planning to expand to other areas.
Fass Pass to Love
Jessica Fass from Los Angeles is a matchmaker, although nothing like Fiddler on the Roof’s Yentel. With a background in writing and producing for the entertainment industry in Hollywood, this charming young woman has been living in Israel for three years and is now employed in social media marketing. She also does stand-up comedy, is a date coach and runs dating and relationship workshops which cover such topics as how to get a first date and get him/her to want a second date.
A year ago, Jessica began setting up friends on dates. Her efforts worked well, and that gave her the incentive to start a matchmaking business. It’s a competitive field and I asked her what she has to offer that JDate doesn’t.
“It’s me,” she replied. “I’m really good at getting to know what makes people tick. I sit with each person over a cup of coffee and we discuss things like where they are in their lives, their past relationships and so on. It’s a very personal service.”
So far, she numbers one engagement and many happy dates among her successes. Unfortunately, older candidates are not catered for yet; her age limits are 22-40 for women and 25-45 for men.
Lily Aronin: Healthy Cooking
Lily comes from Los Angeles and lives near Modiin. A holistic health coach who trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she also has a degree in psychology and is certified as a personal trainer and coach. Lily offers a variety of courses in cooking healthy, flavorful meals. With four children of her own, she says that her courses will introduce the family to good food in a delicious and approachable way.
Among the courses she offers are a series on “family friendly meals” (NIS 400), “family friendly vegetables (NIS 400) and a “freezer cook off” session for NIS 200.
Sharon Kirschner, therapist
Sharon came to Israel three years ago from Australia, where she qualified as a counseling psychologist. She specializes in helping olim deal with culture shock. “There are a lot of adjustment issues in moving countries. And olim are generally not prepared for it. I went through it myself. It takes years to find your feet. Ideally, every oleh should get support.
Miss Dandelion Events
Nadine Weinmann from Austria and Michal Amsalem from Israel have started an event planning service aimed mainly, though not exclusively, at people from overseas, particularly German-speaking, who want to hold an event in Israel. They met when they were working in the same company and have been running their joint business for a year.
What makes their company different from other companies?
Says Nadine, “Well, first, I think that the fact of having two girls from completely different backgrounds makes it very appealing to clients as we can cover all aspects of a Jewish event. I was born and raised in Austria in a very traditional Ashkenazi family, whereas Michal was born in Akko and has Moroccan roots. We can understand different needs.
“It’s a jungle out there and many non-Israelis don’t have any idea how to start planning an event,” she added. “We work to every client’s budget, high or low, and all our venues and vendors are hand-picked.” Although clients are charged a fee, it often works out more economical for them because our firm gets good prices from the vendors.
Nadine and Michal organize weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, private events and corporate events and offer professional expertise, efficient organization and creativity.