How Bible Study in a Catholic Monastery Led New Yorker to Aliyah

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If Bob Aiello’s Life was a movie – and surely it could be – viewers would find it hard to believe this movie is fact and not fiction. As a child, Bob aspired to be a Catholic monk and instead became an Orthodox Jew. Born blind from inoperable cataracts, he first saw his mother’s face at the age of 17, thanks to the advent of laser surgery. He holds a master’s degree in industrial psychology and has written several technical books, including Agile Application Lifecycle Management – Using DevOps to Drive Process Improvement.

He served in the New York City Police Auxiliary for 28 years, most recently in the Transit Bureau, and has been involved in broadcast journalism as a hobby since 1979. And although he is an avid Zionist , Bob made his aliya when he did it without really wanting to. To. Three of his five children had already moved to Israel and served in the IDF. He and his wife, Leslie, had given permission for their youngest, Devora, to immigrate alone when she was 17. clean despite the papers we signed, ”he explains. “So we arrived in August 2018, exhausted by the unexpected and rushed packaging, but elated that our dream of living in Israel is finally coming true. friends and adapt to Israeli culture. She and Leslie spent 25 months in Israel over a three-and-a-half-year period, starting in August 2014. Bob was able to visit every few months, shifting his career from managerial roles to hands-on technical tasks. he could. do it remotely. This exceptionally devoted approach to absorbing their daughter has paid off well. “Devora passed a Hebrew interview to be accepted into a two-week selective scientific research program for Israelis at Weizmann, which she attended in August, just before our aliyah,” Leslie says. She finished her bagrut (final exams) after Aliya. Now, at age 19, she is serving in a combat position in the Air Force. The Aiellos’ eldest son, Shmuel, now 32, arrived in 2009, followed by David, now 26, and Esther, now 23. A son, Massimo (Moshe), 29, chose to stay in America. “Just as my family immigrated to the United States from Italy to provide a better life for their children, we followed our children to Israel, wanting a better life for them – not so much in terms of physical prosperity, but more in terms of physical prosperity. terms of spiritual prosperity. Bob says. He discovered a few years ago that the surname Aiello is shared by many descendants of conversos – which may be why he and his brother felt drawn to Judaism. to become a Jew started when I was studying the Bible. in a Catholic monastery during Easter week, ”he says. The blind teenager was intrigued by a verse from Exodus: “And you will keep the feast of unleavened bread, for on that day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you will keep this day, in all your generations, as a law forever. “” I asked other brothers and priests why we did not obey this permanent status and they did not get good answers. It was the start of my exit from the Catholic Church, ”he says. “I came to Judaism spiritually and cerebrally. As someone who takes the Bible literally, I couldn’t help but become a Jew. After seven years of study, Bob completed his conversion at the age of 25. Six months later, he met Leslie Sachs at a Purim party in New York City. They have been married for 35 years. “I was intrigued from its first line by his blindness and I’m still interested over 30 years later,” says Leslie, who is a school psychologist and runs the couple’s high-tech consulting firm. The Aiellos raised their children in Brooklyn and later in Elizabeth, New Jersey, with strong Zionist values. But family obligations held them back in the United States. “I took care of my mom in our home last year when she was alive,” Bob says. “I had priests and nuns who came to visit him. I encouraged her to be herself and this is a theme in our family. We are real; we love to be ourselves. He notes that his family embraced his conversion. Her grandmother even had her kitchen hidden. Her mother did not share her enthusiasm for Israel but accepted it. In September 2016, Bob began producing a weekly radio segment on Israeli technology and innovation for Israel News Talk Radio. The show, still ongoing, “is a way of saying, ‘This is Israel, this is how amazing we are, and this is how we give back to the world. -Tech culture values ​​youth through compared to experience. “It’s quite ironic given that most Israeli companies want to establish a presence in the United States and Europe and need our experience to be successful,” he says. “In the United States and in Europe I’m considered an industry expert, but in Israel I’m just an old man who didn’t go through 8200, “referring to the elite military intelligence unit.” We love living in Israel but there are indeed a lot of challenges, “he said.” I’m generally good at languages ​​- I speak German, Yiddish and a little Russian – but I had a hard time learning English. Hebrew. It is ridiculously impossible to run public services without the help of Hebrew-speaking Israelis – in our case, our children. in the Bible and live my life now as an Israeli. Leslie echoes her husband. “We are optimistic for the future and if anything wished we could have made our aliya earlier,” she adds.Robert Aiello – From Elizabeth, New Jersey to Jerusalem, 2018


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