Elodie Lambrozo, 21 - From Paris to Tel Aviv
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Fashion deprived. 'I love to shop, but I have had a hard time finding clothing stores I like in Israel. It's not like Paris.'
Photo: Meredith Price
Elodie Lambrozo grew up in the romance capital of the world but says that Paris seemed small by the time she reached 18. "I wanted a new adventure," says Lambrozo, pushing a strand of dark hair away from her blue eyes. "My mom enrolled me at the Dauphine University and I studied economy there for six months, but I hated every second of it. I was ready for something else." When her older brother decided to come to Israel on a study abroad program three years ago, Lambrozo saw the chance for an interesting vacation and booked a round-trip ticket. She had no idea that the journey would be the start of a love affair with the Jewish state, or that at long last she would find a place to call home.
"I had been to Israel before, but I had never set foot in the city of Tel Aviv," says Lambrozo. "As soon as I got here to visit my brother, I fell madly and instantly in love." While her brother attended classes and studied for exams, Lambrozo often found herself alone during the day, wandering the streets and taking in the sights and sounds of the bustling, energetic city. She spent hours drifting through small neighborhoods, walking into shops on Dizengoff Street, soaking up the sun in caf terraces and discovering quiet corners. After that visit, Lambrozo knew she would be back. Lambrozo arranged to make aliya as quickly as possible after her return to Paris. She returned to Israel on July 28, 2004, 19 years old and without her parents or siblings, this time to stay.
"My grandparents made aliya a few years ago, just before they turned 90," says Lambrozo. "They wanted to be buried in Israel." Her grandfather has since passed away and got his wish to be interred in Jerusalem, in a cemetery overlooking the capital. Her grandmother, who Lambrozo says is in great shape, still lives in Jerusalem and remains energetic. Both sides of Lambrozo's family were pied-noir. Literally translated as "black feet," the term applies to the French citizens who colonized northern Africa, particularly Algeria, between the early 19th century and 1962. During Algeria's war for independence, which lasted between 1954 and 1962, Lambrozo's family, like the vast majority of pied-noir families, returned to France. "My parents were both born in Algeria, and no one who had to leave ever fully got over abandoning their lives there, even if they were teenagers like my parents," says Lambrozo.
"It was paradise on earth," she says, adding that a deep nostalgia surrounds all of her family's stories about life in Algeria. Lambrozo's father is a doctor in Paris and her mother assists him. The couple make at least two trips a year to Israel to visit Elodie and her grandmother. Lambrozo has three siblings: an older sister, 26, who works in insurance in Paris; an older brother, 24, who is doing a financial internship in Montreal; and a younger sister, 16, who is in high school in Paris.
In a spacious, airy apartment on the first floor of an old building on Allenby Street, Lambrozo says she has at last found a place where she can stay. "I've moved five times since I came to Israel," says Lambrozo. "I didn't even want to visit this place because of the location, but as soon as I walked in, I knew I would take it." The charming apartment was once a casino, and a few of the old walls have been painted bright red, yellow and blue, giving the aged bricks a fresh look. Most of the wide area is open, and Lambrozo says that the previous inhabitant put in a wall to separate the bedroom from what was previously one enormous gambling room. "I left everything exactly as I found it, from the paint to the antique lighting fixtures. I love it," says Lambrozo, adding that she has grown so accustomed to the noise from Allenby Street that it no longer affects her.