From the Century City Mall to Ra’anana
Marianne and Koby Tanzer met at the Century City Mall. He had just finished his service in the IDF and was working as a security guard to make some money. She was working at Origins. He asked her out on a date, she agreed, and on their first date, he said to her: “Stick with me, and one day we’ll go back to Israel.”
She “stuck” with him, and fifteen years later, they’re on the August 18 Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight where I met with them. Their eldest daughter Noa, 5, was watching Barbie and the Diamond Castle on the in-flight entertainment system embedded behind each seat. Noa, 3, was sleeping, and Ori, 1, was in his mothers arms, covering her bulge. She‘s five months pregnant.
“I never wanted to go to Israel,” Marianne related, while her husband, Koby, an investment banker, joined the minyan for mincha prayers in the back of the plane. “It never in my life occurred to me I’d want to live anywhere but America. My family was not Zionist.”
Her husband, on the other hand, came from three generations of Zionists. His parents were involved in the socialist Zionist youth movement, HaBonim, and his grandparents lived on a kibbutz pioneering agricultural methods. He made aliyah on his own from Calgary, Canada at age 15.
Neither was observant when they met, but Marianne and Koby grew together in Orthodox Judaism. Marianne will miss the most her friends and family in Los Angeles. They were very active in Young Israel of Century City, the city where it all began.
“My husband’s dreams become my dreams,” Marianne said. “Now they’re like our family’s dreams. If it were just me, I wouldn’t be doing it. I can’t be the one to hold him back and now I see compelling reasons for me to go, intellectually. Emotionally, it’s very hard for me to leave America. For how long have Jewish wanted to live in Israel? How many tears were cried for people to live in Israel? In our lifetime we have that chance. How could I pass it up?”
Like many Orthodox families making aliyah, they are driven first and foremost by Zionist idealism, but many practical benefits come with living in the Jewish homeland, as discussed in my recent article on LA Aliyah. They’d save about $14,000 annually per child on Jewish day school education.
“But money was never an issue,” Marianne said. “You have to follow your heart and do what’s right and everything will fall into place.”
Through proxy they rented an apartment in Ra’anana just north of Tel Aviv, a city they’ve never even visited but which they chose in part for its high concentration of English-speaking olim. Koby plans to find a job in finance. Having just completed her MBA, Marianne, who worked in environmental counseling, will first work as an “Ima.”
“People asked if we’re having a boy or a girl,” Koby said, returning to his seat after mincha. “I said I don’t know but we’re having a sabra.”