Finding Love in the Holy Land

The Fellowship  |  February 10, 2022

A young smiling Jewish woman on the right-hand side with a young smiling Jewish man sitting on her left side.
(Photo: Yossi Zeliger)

When Gavriel showed up on Daniela’s front door step in Argentina to surprise her, she couldn’t believe it. He’d traveled all the way from Israel to be with her on her birthday.

She certainly didn’t realize it would be this moment that would change everything — that in just over four short months, she’d be boarding a Fellowship Freedom Flight to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) to be with the man of her dreams.

“My birthday is December 14,” says Daniela. “I received a lot of good wishes from friends, but I didn’t do anything special because everyone was in lockdown because of COVID-19. The next day, I was sitting at home and I suddenly heard a knock on the door. I opened the door and there was Gavriel! He came to surprise me for my birthday. It was very exciting.”

Reconnecting Over Zoom

Their love story actually started almost a decade ago. Daniela, now 32, and Gavriel, now 37, met when they were much younger. At the time, they both lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and both were trying to advance in their careers as professional dancers.

But after dating for about two years, they decided to go their separate ways. Little did they know that years later, during a global pandemic, the two would reconnect over Zoom. By this point, their lives had taken completely different courses. Gavriel had made aliyah, where he began working as a dance teacher and instructor. Daniela remained in Argentina, but she felt she was failing to reach her full potential as an instructor and dancer.

“The reality in Argentina, and in South American countries in general, is very difficult from an economic point of view,” says Daniela. “The possibilities there are very limited, certainly in a profession like mine. For a while, I have been looking for a way to advance myself. Then the COVID-19 pandemic came, and it gave me a lot of time to think.”

Then an opportunity came up for Daniela. “One day I saw a post that Gavriel had placed on Facebook, in which he invited amateur dancers to join him for a class. I contacted him and we started talking,” Daniela remembers.

He explained that he was in Israel, and Daniela told him how much she wanted to make aliyah as well to give her more opportunities for her career. By the end of their conversation, they decided to do a joint Instagram lesson, and “that’s how the relationship between us was resumed,” says Daniela.

The pandemic forced Daniela and Gavriel to stay at home for long periods. To alleviate the loneliness, they decided to have weekly Zoom calls. “We would talk, play games, and watch movies together. Every date lasted 5 or 6 hours. I felt like we were talking just as good friends. The relationship wasn’t romantic, but simply two people who are on different sides of the world passing the time pleasantly.”

An Aliyah Love Story

But then fast forward to Daniela’s birthday, and here Gavriel was, at her front door, having traveled from Israel to see her.

“Gavriel asked me face to face if I wanted to be his girlfriend again,” says Daniela. “Of course I agreed and since then we’ve been together. As soon as I saw him, I knew I would make aliyah to Israel as fast as possible and that was really the case.”

Several months later, Daniela was on a Fellowship Freedom Flight from Argentina. Upon her arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, she landed straight into the arms of Gavriel, who was waiting for her excitedly.

“Thanks to The Fellowship, the whole aliyah process was very fast,” says Daniela. “The Fellowship staff was available to me around the clock. They answered questions and did everything they could to make the aliyah process as simple as possible so I could fulfill my dream and come to Israel.” In fact, she plans to help new olim from South American countries who come to Israel as much as she can to return the favor.

Daniela and Gavriel are enjoying finally being together in the Holy Land at last. “Today we’re much more mature than before and the issue of marriage and children is already on the agenda,” says Daniela.

“I feel that I have found my place in the world. I feel like I have the love I always dreamed of, and we have all the time to travel and have shared experiences.”

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