It’s never too late! Colin Abrams moved to Israel from South Africa 13 years ago, at the age of 70, and began a new career. He has no regrets.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September 1932, Colin Abrams made Aliyah (immigration to Israel) at the age of 70.
His first trip to the Holy Land was in 1990. “I just fell in love with Israel,” he said in an interview with United with Israel.
In November 2002, he and his wife Margaret made their new home in Ramat Beit Shemesh, a city nestled in the Judean hills, located less than 40 km. southwest of Jerusalem.
A second marriage for both, together they have six children (five in South Africa), 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A daughter had preceded them in moving to Israel, and they joined her in her city of choice.
“In 2002, during the Intifada [Arab uprising], Margaret was here for a new grandchild, and for some reason, during this traumatic period, she decided it would be a good idea to come here,” Abrams said, conceding that initially, she was reluctant to make the move. “We came eight months later.”
At the time, Abrams, an avid reader and a lover of nature and wildlife, was an insurance loss adjuster in South Africa. Upon deciding to make Aliyah, he began making enquiries regarding opportunities in Israel, but there seemed to be no interesting prospects for the septuagenarian.
At the age of 19, Abrams had begun training in his father’s profession as a butcher, and he continued in that field until 1980, when he switched careers.
Shortly after making Aliyah, after attending Ulpan (Hebrew-language training) classes – he and his wife are still not fluent, as the community is largely composed of English speakers – he decided to launch a new enterprise, relying on his earlier training in the meat industry. They used the kitchen at a nearby kibbutz (collective community) until it was privatized, at which time he moved the business to their home. The initiative became a success and is highly popular in the neighborhood.
“We make a unique product. There is nobody else who produces what we produce,” Abrams enthused, naming uniquely South African delicacies such as biltong and boerwors. “We use the best-quality meat.”
Margaret is an equal business partner, working together and even cooking special dishes for take-out. They also cater functions.
Overcoming a New Challenge
Approximately half a year ago, the Abrams family faced a crisis with the discovery that Colin was ill with cancer. Just a few days ago, however, after six months of treatment, his doctors, announced that he was cured. The bill of clean health was a total surprise, he said with a huge smile. “I really didn’t expect to hear that.”
During his illness, Margaret carried the business on her own while caring for her husband. During that difficult period, they also received practical and emotional support not only from family, but also from their new neighbors and close friends.
“Moving to Israel was the best thing we ever did,” Colin stated. The lifestyle and culture are “completely different, but you do get used to it.” There is a level of “brashness,” he concedes, but “inside, the people are gold. That’s why they’re called sabras, because they’re prickly on the outside, but soft and sweet on the inside.”
By: Atara Beck, United with Israel