Zurab and Tamar are so proud of their 1-year-old daughter, Nitsa, who learns more and more Hebrew each day at her new pre-nursery play group in Israel. The family recently made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) on a Fellowship Freedom Flight, and they haven’t looked back since. Only two months after moving to Israel from Gori, Gerorga, they know they’ve made the right decision to spend the rest of their lives in the homeland of the Jewish people.
Zurab already passed his driving test, and he can speak Hebrew. “Right now I’m working in a supermarket stockroom,” says Zurab. “I don’t expect to work there forever, but this is where I’m starting.” He can support his family with his supermarket salary, but his next step will be to send in an application so that his college degree from Georgia will be recognized as valid in Israel. Zurab was an economist and Tamar was a lawyer for a local municipality in Georgia. They hope to build their careers in Israel as soon as possible.
For Zurab, life in Israel has always been a dream, instilled in him as a young boy because of his grandmother. “My grandmother always used to tell me that I must go back to my homeland,” he recalls. “She’s not alive any longer, but she always said I must go back. This is our homeland.”
These Jewish values have stayed with Zurab his whole life, especially the feeling that Israel is the Jewish people’s true home – and where his family belongs. This is why he cannot wait for the rest of his family to join him in the Holy Land. “Our parents and siblings are still in Georgia,” says Zurab. “We wanted to come, learn the language, and get jobs before the rest of the family joins us. I’m studying Hebrew in ulpan [intensive language class] during the evening and Tamar is studying during the day. My brother has just received his visa to Israel, and we expect his family to come in the next few months. After that, we hope our parents will come sometime in the future and we’ll all be able to live together in a big house.”
Both Zurab and Tamar know their hard work will pay off eventually. Once they feel comfortable with speaking Hebrew and have their college diplomas recognized in Israel, they feel they will have a bright future ahead of them. “We’re not dreaming,” says Zurab. “We’re doing everything step-by-step. Without the language, nothing is possible. Learning Hebrew is our first priority. I know that many people come to Israel and want to work right away without furthering their education of Israel, the language, and the people. I believe that’s a big mistake. It takes three things to make it in life – learning, working, and luck. With these three things, everything will be okay.”
With their hard work ethic and emphasis on learning the culture of Israel, The Fellowship believes they will have many successes to come. But as with all of the new olim (immigrants) who arrive in Israel on our Fellowship Freedom Flights, we know that in addition to a strong work ethic, these new immigrants also need friends to help them start their new lives in the Holy Land.
Zurab feels especially thankful that Fellowship volunteers answered all of their pre-aliyah questions and that they were given a $1,000 grant per adult to begin their new lives. “We were in phone contact with The Fellowship‘s representative until we got on the plane. She answered all of our questions,” says Zurab. “The financial assistance was also important. Once we moved into our apartment, we were able to buy a refrigerator, a washing machine, and other appliances. When you come to a new country and you don’t have anything, it’s a big help.”
Overall, the family feels very blessed. “I want to thank you very much for helping us with our first steps in our new country!” says Zurab. “With your help, I know we’re going to succeed.”
We believe they will succeed too. And thanks to our wonderful donors, we continue to fund Fellowship Freedom Flights to give many more Jewish families like Zurab’s the chance to start over in their true home, Israel!Faces of the Fellowship