Looking for Israelis in Brighton? Try the pub

Arty and relaxed city appeals to growing Israeli contingent, who socialise regularly over a pint


An Israeli woman who moved to Brighton many years ago recalls being questioned at the time about local industries by her brother, a Tel Aviv businessman. “I told him that half the city’s residents sell organic lotions and potions to the other half who, in turn, treat the first half with alternative therapies. Oh, and that nearly all of them are also artists.”

Brighton does indeed have a reputation as an arty and relaxed city — and that sits nicely with its small but growing Israeli population.

“Generally, Israelis who choose to live in Brighton are less driven by money and career prospects than those in London,” explains Gili Dailes, a product owner in an IT company who has developed a successful second career as a concert photographer since moving to Brighton five years ago with her partner Nanneq.

“Many Israelis come here because of their pursuit of art, music and creativity. They seem to be easy-going and open-minded, a bit like the general Brighton population.”

The city is home to several dozen Israelis. Like many domiciled abroad, they tend not to be involved in mainstream Jewish life. But the Brighton contingent have developed their own social network and there has recently been a small influx of newcomers, particularly couples with young children.

An example is the Weisze family, comprising Daniel and Michal and daughters Adi and Alma. According to Michal Weisze, they moved “because we wanted to have an adventure and Brighton seemed like the perfect place.

“Back in Israel, I had a PR company and represented Gesher Theatre, which had performed in the Brighton Festival, so I was already familiar with the city and its liberal atmosphere.”

Although there had been frustrations when dealing with authorities — “Israelis tend to do things faster and think outside the box far more than people here” — the family had not come to the UK “to look for people who are similar to us”. That said, the Israeli group afforded “a nice opportunity to create new friendships”.

It meets monthly on a Sunday night at a local pub, a tradition so established that even the barman greets group members with “Shalom”.

Among the regulars is Amnon Bezek, who came to Brighton from a kibbutz in southern Israel. His wife Simone is Brazilian and they have two children.

“I like the fact that Brighton is a place where you can be as eccentric as you like and still fit in,” he says. “But I miss the closeness between people in Israel and it is also important for me to pass on Jewish ideology to my kids.

“I really appreciate that we have such a supportive Israeli community and that we continue to enjoy the monthly meetings in the pub.”

There is also a Facebook group, where members can ask for advice, publicise events and introduce newcomers.

Its administrator, Penina Shepherd, has been in the city for more than 20 years, having married an Englishman she met on kibbutz. The founder and CEO of two law firms, she says she lives happily in “cosmopolitan, colourful Brighton”.

She visits Israel regularly and stresses that providing her three children with an Israeli identity is hugely important.

“My eldest son has made aliyah and both daughters have attended summer camp in Israel. The youngest, who is 12, is now aspiring to become a counsellor there.”

Elita Mosseri came over two years ago after meeting William, her British boyfriend, while travelling and the two have settled in Hove.

“I have taught yoga and now mainly work as a waitress while doing a degree in environmental sciences,” she says.

“I love Brighton, mainly thanks to the beach, the openness and happy atmosphere, but miss the family and the weather in Israel, where you can be out of doors so much of the time.

“It took me a while to get in touch with the Israeli group but now I’ve been to the pub meetings a couple of times and it is good to know there is such a nice Israeli community here. My boyfriend is learning Hebrew at the local ulpan and, who knows, we may be able to live both in Brighton and in Tel Aviv one day.”

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