Tens of thousands of new immigrants move to Israel every year, each with their own personal story, but there are those whose immigration shapes and affects many other people's lives for the better
Meital R. Fishman
Make Israelis better leaders
The work of Michael Dickson (43), for Israel and for the Jewish people, which began in London where he was born and raised, reached new heights upon immigrating to Israel. In London he was active in the Jewish community, serving as Director of Informal Jewish Education at the Jews’ Free School (JFS), the largest and oldest Jewish educational institution in the world.
As a result of one of the educational activities at the school, he contacted the pro-Israel organization StandWithUs to receive informative materials about Israel, which led to a fruitful cooperation over the years.
When Dickson decided to make Aliyah fifteen years ago, the organization hired him to establish and grow a StandWithUs branch in Israel.
"The idea was to work with students and tourists, who would not only experience Israel, but could also go home and explain to people about the country. Deal with the hard questions."
In the summer of 2006, at the end of the Second Lebanon War, Dickson landed in Israel with his wife and two young children (the couple now have five children).
"At the time, I was interviewed by two UK newspapers and asked why a British guy would want to live in a war zone," he recalled.
He describes his arrival to Israel, describing an unforgettable situation from his early days in Israel: "My oldest daughter was two and a half years old at the time. One day, when I came to pick her up from kindergarten, she had a crown on her head with a Star of David on it. We were walking down the street, and I thought to myself, in London I wouldn't feel comfortable walking around like this. Here it was so natural."
Since he began his job, the Israeli branch of the Los Angeles-founded organization has grown to become an international center.
StandWithUs was one of the first of similar orgs to invest in Israel education awareness on social networks in the mid-2000s.
"Today we reach millions of people, even from the Arab world. We get messages from people from the Palestinian Authority and Iran telling us they support Israel," he says, his eyes lighting up.
When asked: "What does Israel represent to you?" Dickson replies without thinking twice: resilience.
He even wrote a book about it, ISResilience – What Israelis Can Teach The World - which was published several months ago (with psychologist Dr. Naomi Baum).
"In the 15 years I have been in Israel, I have discovered how strong Israelis are, how they bounce back quickly after terrorist attacks and wars. Now, during the coronavirus period, resilience is the key word, and the world has much to learn from Israelis. In the book, we explore the issue of resilience through the story of Israelis of a diversity of backgrounds. In September, we will participate in a large international conference of experts, to talk about Israeli resilience."
Do you yourself feel Israeli?
"Yes, absolutely. Although I still have British manners and I still drink tea with milk - I also barbecue on Israeli Independence Day. From the minute I arrived in Israel, I felt like I had returned home. Being Israeli is a part of who we are. And immigrants bring wonderful things with them to Israel, we all have something to contribute".
Read the article here.