My MMY~Where Are They Now?
Miriam (Srolovitz) Epstein - MMY 5763-5764
Miriam (Srolovitz) Epstein made aliya five years ago to Ramat Bet Shemesh. Immediately upon her aliya, she returned to MMY to serve as a rakezet. Sadly, she is leaving our faculty now because she and her family are moving to the Northern community of Maalot, where Miriam will be working as an English teacher.
We asked Miriam to talk about her aliya experiences, how coming back to MMY fit in with that, and what caused her to make the dramatic decision to leave the comfortable Anglo community of RBS and venture up to the North.
The year is 2004. I have just completed my shana bet semester at MMY. I am returning to study at Stern College, along with many of my MMY classmates, where I will later declare a major of English literature. I have it all worked out: I will finish my B.A., get a Masters in Social Work through the Wurzweiller Block Program, and make aliya by the time I finish my M.A.
Then I get engaged. David is a musician living in Boston, studying music arranging at Berklee College of Music. I transfer to a small school in Boston called Simmons College, where I decide on a degree in teaching English as a Second Language, a degree I hope will make me easily employable when we make aliya.
In 2005, we bought an apartment on paper in the then-new neighborhood Ramat Shilo, in Ramat Beit Shemesh. David had learned at Yeshivat Lev Hatorah (around which the neighborhood was built), so it seemed like a perfect fit to live in a neighborhood where we would be comfortable and where we knew people. In 2007, when I graduated from Simmons, we packed our bags and made that next big step: we made aliya with our 11-month old, Shlomo. That summer, I emailed Rabbi Haber, asking him if any positions were available at MMY. I was hired as a rakezet the next year.
MMY and Ramat Beit Shemesh both played wonderfully crucial roles in our klita (absorption) process. Coming back to MMY was familiar, yet strange at first. I was sitting at the faculty table! It was very exciting to be part of the process of growth for the many talmidot that were in my kvutza over the years. I also had the unique opportunity to substitute teach Ora Derovan’s Shmot class, a class that had been transformative for me as a student years earlier. In addition, I taught English in elementary schools, colleges, test preparation courses, as well as virtual classes. My husband opened a profitable recording studio in Ramat Beit Shemesh, working with artists from all over Israel and abroad. Things were great.
Fast forward to 2011. My son was having a routine speech evaluation, at the age of 5. The therapist told us that everything was fine, but his Hebrew vocabulary left something to be desired. I turned to my husband and said, “Shlomo was a baby when we moved here. He learned to speak here. I don’t want him to grow up feeling like an oleh chadash. I want our kids to feel Israeli.”
We started checking out communities in the North, an area of the country we have always loved. Ayelet (Bacon) Schwell (MMY 5759-5760) of Katzrin, put my exact feelings into words when she quoted a local resident saying (translated from Hebrew), “If you live in Ra’anana or Beit Shemesh or Modi’in, you live in Zion; if you live in the North, you live Zionism.”
After visiting many communities, meeting many people, and experiencing Shabbatot throughout the Golan and Galil, we chose a city called Ma’alot. Ma’lot is home to one of the country’s largest Hesder yeshivot, clear air, beautiful views, an ice skating rink (!) and, most importantly, a very warm community. David is planning to build a new recording studio in our home in Ma’alot, and I hope to teach English in a local school or college.
We are very grateful for the opportunity to have made our beginning in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and we are thrilled to embrace the next chapter of our adventure in the Holy Land.