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Digital Content Marketer David Abbou: The Army Program That Changed My Life

David Abbou’s digital marketing & writing skills are as smooth as butter. He went from having an established Toronto based career in journalism and communications to a very successful one in the innovative Digital Marketing & Content world here in Israeli High-tech. Here’s how it happened:

Born in Netanya, David moved with his family to Toronto when he was just 5- years old. Most of his extended family remained in Israel, and he was able to visit them every so often growing up.

Here’s David participating in the Marva Israel program in 1997, at the “Good Fence:” a historic location on the border of Israel & Lebanon.

Despite coming to Israel periodically, David grew up in a largely Canadian social environment. “I was truly only in touch with my Canadian identity. I spoke English, went to public school, and my Hebrew was very basic. I only began to connect with Israel and get in touch with my Jewish identity while participating in a volunteer army program called Marva Israel.”

When David participated, Marva was a 10 week-long program that offers people from all over the world the opportunity to experience many of the aspects of basic training that soldiers do before they are officially admitted into the IDF.

Participants get a real taste of what’s it like to be in the IDF.

They get basic training experience including combat & intense physical training, guard duty, military drill reenactments, hiking, and practice navigating through deserts, and hills.

After participating in Marva, David said he’d “never felt as mentally and physically strong in his life” and began to seriously think about moving to Israel.

David participated in Marva Israel when he was 20 years old.

When looking back, David says it was the Marva experience that eventually led to his Aliyah. After the program, he always thought about moving to Israel but was hesitant because he “wasn’t very sure how he’d fare in the Israeli job market.” He explained, “I wasn’t that sure how promising the job prospects would be for me working in a field without the ability to speak fluent Hebrew.”

When working in Toronto, David was the news editor at an MMA lifestyle print and web magazine. Here he is featured above with Brazilian MMA champion Royce Gracie.

David said this was unquestionably his biggest concern. “I’m a writer and I write in English. I don’t write in Hebrew, certainly not at a professional level.”

But he still had a passion for Israel that wouldn’t subside. As WWE fighter Ric Flair used to say, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” In this case, David needed to overcome his own job prospect concerns in order to fulfill his dream of living & working in Israel — and he did!

When researching jobs in Israeli High-tech before making Aliyah, David said, “I realized there is a huge demand for English speaking writers and marketers. On top of that, I got a bit of a glimpse of the sheer amount of Start-ups in Israel. I learned more and more about “Start-up Nation” the more I read about it. I realized the Start-up scene here has tons of opportunities, especially for English speakers and writers. That helped give me the extra nudge to take that leap.”

Like many other Olim, David did Ulpan as soon as he arrived in Israel. He did Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem for 4 months before beginning his job search. He told me he felt like it was a good starting point which allowed him to take time to study Hebrew, adjust to the culture, and make friends that he is still in touch with to this day.

Coincidentally, he went to a job fair in Jerusalem right before his Ulpan ended, and that’s where he met the first start-up he worked for as a marketing writer. He was offered a job within a few weeks!

David said, he “eased into his Aliyah” and would recommend a similar path for others looking to come to Israel.

He said, “I made Aliyah in my late 30s. I highly recommend doing a group Ulpan before jumping into work. It gives you language skills, a place to live (it was a residential ulpan), and the program offered support to help with job searches and career planning. It was certainly a softer landing compared to other stories I hear.”

Moreover, David said he was also able to get the “bureaucratic stuff” out of the way while in Ulpan, which was easier than trying to do it while working simultaneously.

This Valentine’s day, David is celebrating his 5-year Aliyah-versary! He jokingly said, “Happy Valentine’s Day to my one true love: Israel!”

David is as happy as can be and is still in touch with many people who participated in Marva & Ulpan Etzion with him. He is currently working as the Content Marketing Manager at a really cool company called Namogoo.

The company developed technology which is able to detect unauthorized ads injected into consumer browsers that disrupt online shoppers when browsing e-commerce sites and divert them to competitor promotions.

David said, “As Content Marketing Manager, I help tell the company's story. Many of the customers are in the USA and Europe. I help plan and write content for Namogoo and its products. I also help tell our customers’ stories, and I do all the content in English.”

David went on to explain, “Working in a company with many other Olim where English is their first language professionally is a huge comfort. I can contribute and add value to and do so almost entirely in English.”

David and fellow Namogoo colleagues are seen above enjoying a work-sponsored fun day at Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaCarmel!

“Namogoo truly values what Olim bring to the table. Not just their language skills, but also their past experience & perspectives from abroad which enrich the work environment, increase collaboration, and bring new ideas to the mix — which overall helps the company grow and succeed.”

I asked David how he feels after being here for 5 years. He said, “5 years after I made Aliyah, I feel really glad and am very happy that I took the leap. I feel like I am home.”

I’d like to thank David for taking the time for this interview and also congratulate him on his 5-year Valentine’s Day Aliyah-versay! Your story is truly inspirational, and I hope this encourages others to overcome fears and jump into the world of Israeli High-tech.

Don’t forget to follow the Olim in Tech group on Facebook.

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❤ Sara

** This is a personal weblog and the opinions expressed here represent my own views and not necessarily those of the entire organization.

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