Although they had a comfortable life in Tampa, James Frydman, a general surgeon at St. Joseph’s Hospital, said it was not a difficult decision to move his family of five to Israel — something they did this month with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh. The Jerusalem based non-profit encourages and facilitates resettlement of olim from the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.
In a phone interview with the Jewish Press from his new home in Israel, Frydman said the family’s intention is to “make aliyah,” (become permanent residents of Israel), and he said they are adjusting well to their new life there. One motivation for the family’s decision to move to Israel was Frydman’s wife, Revital, is Israeli and most of her family still lives there. Frydman described his sons, Ben, 10; Tamar, 8; and Ziv, 3; as “optimistic but anxious” about the move. “It is a big change, but they have been there before and met … [Revital’s] large family,” he said.
Apparently that includes the family’s dog, which flew separately by FedEx plane to Israel. Frydman said there was a multitude of papers to get approved with customs workers and the USDAto get the dog to Israel. The pooch made the 12-hour flight with only water. Frydman said the dog was “sort of disoriented but in good spirits” on arrival.
The decision to make aliyah was not a hasty one. “We’d been planning to do this for a while,” said Frydman, whose family had lived in Tampa for six years.
While studying for his medical degree at the University of Illinois in Chicago, he dedicated time to learning Hebrew. “I spent a year studying it,” said Frydman. “But it has been around me all my life.”
Prior to the move, the Frydmans spoke to their sons in Hebrew to familiarize them with the language.
The two older sons attended Hillel Academy in Tampa and their youngest son was in the JCC Preschool South. The family was active at Young Israel of Tampa Chabad, near the University of South Florida, as well at Bais David Chabad, near their home in South Tampa. Rabbi Uriel Rivkin of Young Israel, as well as his dad, Rabbi Lazer Rivkin of Bais David, said the family would be sorely missed.
“He wanted his kids to grow up immersed in Jewish culture and they would get that in Israel. He realized that a more traditional Jewish education is the key for Jewish survival… They wanted more study of the Bible, of the prophets, of the Talmud,” he said, adding that the Frydmans “are a wonderful couple.”
The Frydman family was among 229 people making aliyah who flew on the same plane from New York to Israel on July 11. On the flight were 38 families, 100 children, and 59 singles, 13 of whom will be joining the Israel Defense Forces.
The flight was provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh, marking that agency’s 10th anniversary. Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing aliyah from North America and the United Kingdom by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of aliyah, its website states. Alyiah is Hebrew for “ascent.” It is the immigration of Jews to Israel.
In its 10 years Nefesh B’Nefesh has helped 40,000 people make aliyah. This summer alone it expects to aid 2,500 people immigrate to Israel.
Aspokesman for the agency said that in the case of the Frydman family, the assistance included helping James Frydman obtain a license to practice medicine in Israel.
Frydman, whose family moved to Kfar Sirkin, a little east of Tel Aviv, noted that the quality of healthcare in Israel is “similar to America. The quality is good. There is a better life expectancy in Israel and there is lots of research.”
Jewish Press staffer writer Bob Fryer contibuted to this report.