In honor of Israel’s 70th year, we asked our alumni in Israel to share their aliyah story. Read Gil Hoffman (’95) story below. Click here to return to the whole page of olim who submitted responses.
What year did you make aliyah and how old were you?
1999 at age 22
Did your experience in high school influence your decision to make aliyah and if so, how?
Absolutely. Giveret Bass was a great teacher and the Zionist atmosphere in the school was very impressive. I also studied with the first years of Kollel Torah Mitzion at Ida Crown in the evenings when I went to Northwestern. Rabbi Matanky and the rabbis and guys from Israel kept my eyes on the prize.
What was your path to aliyah like?
Very easy. I decided I didn’t want to be in America for another Jewish holiday after college. I flew a couple days before Rosh Hashana, ran off the plane and it’s been relatively smooth sailing since then, thank God. Having a summer internship the summer before my senior year led to a job I’ve had for 19 years.
Did you serve in the IDF?
Yes, I served in artillery unit for regular service and in the IDF spokesman’s unit for reserves. My toughest experience was the Gaza disengagement–telling the foreign press who, what, when, and where (but never why, of course) as people cried about losing their homes.
What has been the most rewarding about living in Israel?
Seeing my children grow up in a Jewish state, knowing nothing about the non-Jewish holidays that were all around me when I was a kid or the anti-Semitism my Holocaust surviving grandparents experienced when they were children.
What is the most challenging part of making aliyah?
That too many Cubs games are played at night in Chicago time nowadays. That means waking up at 3AM regularly to watch. But a religious obligation is a religious obligation and emunah is emunah. (Writing this while watching a day game at a civilized hour).
What do you do professionally?
Chief political correspondent and analyst for Jerusalem Post, teach journalism at a college, host a radio show, Israel correspondent for US Jewish papers, ghost write columns, brief visiting groups, and have lectured in all 50 US states and a dozen countries around the world. But I spend most of my time on my most important job, parenting my wonderful children.
What is your advice for our students today?
American colleges are a complete ripoff. The price has quadrupled since I was there, while the quality has decreased. It’s much better to go to college here and get experience while you are here, working in your field and getting a foot in the door. The economy is better here and quality of life is much better. The only reason to still live in America is Wrigley Field, and I totally get that. I hope Danny Harris enjoyed being there today.