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Jasmin Aziz
14 April 2021

Commemorating Yom Haatzmaut 2021 with Brighton's Jewish Community

As a way to commemorate Israel’s Independence Day, we got together on Yom Haatzmaut to hear the migration journeys to and from Israel made by members of our Brighton Jewish community.

Chaired by Michael Harris, we welcomed a stalwart of our community, Ivor Richards who recently made ‘Aliya’ last year, and his daughter Judy Badnani who moved 25 years ago, and heard about what it was like to relocate their lives from Brighton to Israel. From the other perspective, we also welcomed Yaara Gidoni who made the opposite journey by moving to the South Coast from Israel in 2014. Read our interview with Yaara below.
From Brighton to Israel and Back Again: Yom Haatzmaut 2021 Event Recording
We recently interviewed Yaara Gidoni to find out more about her experience setting down roots in a different country.
When did you move to Sussex from Israel and what have you enjoyed the most about living here?
I moved to the South Coast nearly 7 years ago, in 2014 and then moved to Brighton about 2.5 years ago. Sussex is beautiful. The very first time I came here I had a familiar feeling of Deja Vu and realised it's because I'd been transported into one of my favourite books - Watership Down! It's a great place. It feels very rural and calm compared to the intensity of my home country.

What has been the biggest challenge in relocating your life?
Probably the biggest challenge for anyone is getting used to not having family and friends close at hand. It got easier once I settled in and found my way around. However, it's the size as well. Israel is a small country and driving for half an hour to see someone or make an appointment is an effort. Here anything less than an hour drive is of no significance.

What advice would you give someone thinking about moving to Brighton?
That would depend on what they needed to get started here. I think the best advice is found on the Brighton Israeli's page on Facebook. Being made aware of it was the best advice I got before actually moving here. It's a good place to start.

How have you found the experience of being a Jewish Israeli in Brighton? Is it easy?
Being Jewish hasn't had any impact on my life here. I'm just a happy resident of this town. People here are very welcoming and accepting in my experience. I've made several Israeli friends, and am acquainted with many. It's nice to feel there's a sense of community, however, I enjoy the diversity of living here, as part of life abroad in general.

What do you miss the most about living in Israel?
For me most obviously is not being able to see my family frequently, especially since this past year when travelling has been impossible. I miss Israeli theatre, and much of the great culture and entertainment. Tel Aviv is a great town.

What has been the biggest cultural difference between British and Israeli culture?
I would say there's a difference in the way people communicate. Israelis are very direct. More than once I heard the comment that when we speak to each other it sounds like we're angry. Israelis can be a bit rough around the edges... but you always know where you stand. Here sometimes I have to guess, but I think I’ve got the hang of it.

What do you think BNJC will offer the Jewish community in Brighton and wider Sussex?
I think it will be so nice to have a focal point for the community, and an inclusive centre that everyone knows about and can meet there.