In association with Nefesh B'Nefesh
They meet daily in the open space, network, plan communal events and even create partnerships and startups – welcome to the NBN TLV Hub – a central space in Tel Aviv, creating community for new Olim.
In the heart of Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, start-ups, entrepreneurs, and creative minds meet daily in an open space - they work side by side, connect with one another other and network. At face value, it sounds like any other coworking space, established in recent years in Israel and around the world - but the story of the TLV Hub is different.
The Hub, founded by Nefesh B’Nefesh, is aimed at the community of young Olim from North America, and serves as a social center for business meetings, networking, friendships and has also been a springboard for many joint initiatives – a much needed venture for young Olim yet to become completely immersed in local life.
We visited the TLV Hub and met some inspiring new immigrants who found the Hub to be a warm home and a center for a supportive community.
"When we established the Hub in 2017, our goal was to create a collaborative and communal workspace for our young Olim in the beating heart of Tel Aviv-Yafo," says Dov Newmark, Director of the Nefesh B’Nefesh Tel Aviv Hub.
"We are excited to hear about young entrepreneurs, for whom this space served as a launching pad for local based businesses and social ventures, who contribute back to the State of Israel and its economy. The Hub also serves as a center for social gatherings and the development of a vibrant and cohesive Anglo community."
At the Hub we met Michal Berman (32), owner of the Tel Aviv Art Studio, who made Aliyah to Israel from New York a decade ago with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA and who also served as a lone soldier.
"I enlisted at a relatively older age, having already had a bachelor's degree in art, and having started working in my field in the United States."
Michal opened her art studio in Tel Aviv after completing a master's degree in art therapy at the University of Haifa.
"The studio is for people of all ages, and it was born out of a desire to connect Israelis with newcomers, who paint together several times a week. It is not obvious as a new immigrant to start a business, but it is possible, and I encourage others to do the same."
The studio, she says, also helps soldiers deal with post-trauma. "In the military, I knew a lot of friends who experienced trauma. My goal is to break the stigma about post-trauma, and show people how important therapy is. Especially art therapy, which achieves wonderful things."
Michal used the Hub for a series of social bonding evenings called Paint Night.
"People brought dates and friends, they all drew together and met new people. At the last event there were 70 people, most of them Olim. I ran a few more events at the Hub, and it was very interesting to meet people from all over the world."
Another entrepreneur we met at the Hub was Sahar Elbaz, 26, vice president of business development at Pi Technology, a company that specializes in artificial intelligence and data encryption products.
He made Aliyah from LA as a lone soldier nine years ago, with assistance from the Nefesh B’Nefesh-FIDF Lone Soldier Program, enlisted in the Givati Brigade and at the end of his service was awarded an IDF Medal of Honor from the Chief of Staff for thwarting a terrorist attack during operation Protective Edge. In 2016, he was even awarded the Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion award for Young Leadership.
"I was born in the United States, to Israeli parents who moved to Los Angeles," he says. "I grew up in a very Zionist home and after high school I decided to enlist, following in the footsteps of my older sister. I felt I belonged to the country and that it was the right thing to do. Today, nine years later, I have no doubt this is my home.”
Sahar came to the Hub as a young entrepreneur who was looking for his way in the high-tech world.
"Like any immigrant graduating from the army, I started trying to find myself. I was interested in sales and business development. I started my company with a good friend's brother. We started from scratch - learned, researched, and had a lot trial and error.
"Today we are in the growth phase – seeking investment and growing the team. We are in demand in everything related to computer systems in Israel and abroad, such as in the United States and the United Arab Emirates.”
Another well-known figure in the Hub is Zo (Zohar) Flamenbaum (36), founder and director of School of Shine, who made Aliyah to Israel eleven years ago from New Jersey.
"I was attracted to the energy and the warmth in Israel, and also to the hummus," she laughs. "Even though I have a family here, landing in Israel was difficult. I don't think I understood the true meaning of my decision until I got here. It was a roller coaster, but it helped me develop and grow thick skin."
After four years in Israel, she embarked on a journey that she describes as a search for deeper meaning, both on a personal level and a collective level.
The result was the establishment of the social enterprise "School of Shine," which aims to empower and strengthen women of all ages through workshops, social activities, empowerment sessions and more. For her activities, she too was awarded the Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion award in 2020 for Young Leadership.
"I wanted to deepen my relationships with people, and help women connect them to their inner strengths and leadership through movement, writing and therapeutic work. I help women be confident in themselves and find their strengths."
The Nefesh B’Nefesh Hub, Zo says, is another stop along the way that has helped her connect with people and refine her vision.
"It's not easy being a freelancer and working alone. The Hub helped me create a framework and build relationships with people and that connects to what I do at School of Shine. Today, ten years after I made Aliyah, I feel I have found my center. I am a mature and independent woman. I meet amazing women every day, and I am grateful for it. "