A short synopsis of my life journey and how I ended up "aligning" people with the essence of Zion, posted in an article in the Jerusalem Post.
Article posted: Friday, 16 November; 2018
By Lisa Samin
AnaRina Heymann grew up in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She lived in the apartheid country for 18 years before the regime came to an end. “I wonder how anyone can call Israel apartheid, when they have no idea what it really looks like,” she says.
Heymann’s mother, head librarian at the National Museum, and her father, an economics professor at the University of Free State, instilled deep respect for all humans in their children. They invited the black help in their home to share in meals and encouraged and supported their education and that of their children in post-high school institutions.
With a flair for the stage, Heymann wanted to major in theater, but her father was dead set against it. They arrived at a compromise and she went on to major in communications and industrial psychology, and theater arts. “I realized that I had a very unusual personality. I was creative but I also developed a love for statistics, seeing patterns and developing strategies.”
She worked in public relations directly after University, but the theater beckoned. She decided to pack up her things and go to Johannesburg, the “big city”, to try her hand at acting. Two Jewish talent agents took her under their wings. She started in children’s and musical theater and for the next seven years she worked in television, film, scriptwriting and program directing. “I loved it,” she says.
In 2008, Heymann went on a tour of Israel which changed her life. Although she always felt a strong connection to G-d, when she returned to South Africa she felt that her life had tilted. “There was a very strong internal pull for me to return to Israel,” she says.
At this time, she was working as head of the television department for a network that broadcast over Africa. She flew to Nigeria and Congo, and other African countries, and saw a lot of corruption. Just when she decided to leave, the network went out of business, and Heymann decided to become more involved with Israel.
“I heard of an opening at the Israeli Embassy, but a woman, now a good friend, who I met during the application process directed me to the Jewish Agency’s Aliyah Department, where I was hired as their marketing professional. I loved helping people to make aliyah,” explains Heymann.
She organized aliyah expos, brought speakers from Israel to speak with potential aliyah candidates, organized job interviews and workshops. All of this helped Heymann to understand what it really meant to make aliyah; to give everything up and start anew.
It was during Passover 2010 that Heymann started feeling uncomfortable in South Africa. She began giving all of her possessions away, resigned from her job by mid-June, although they had just offered her a promotion, and two weeks later she went to Israel. Miraculously, she found a three-month volunteer stint in Jerusalem working with children with disabilities at Alyn Hospital, Israel's only pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation facility. She worked eight hours a day and received room and board, and thoroughly enjoyed herself.
When she got a call on Tisha B’Av from the secretary at the Johannesburg Aliyah Department telling her that the complex in which Heymann had been living in Johannesburg had burnt to the ground from a gas explosion, Heymann knew that she was not going back. “A few of my neighbors died in that explosion, and my cottage was the only one that was not destroyed. I felt that this was a sign.”
Heymann went on to work for Telfed in Ra’anana and then back to Alyn before deciding to make aliyah. In February 2012 she became a citizen and went to work for the Jewish Agency’s Aliyah Department, helping students and young people to make aliyah from Israel.
Heymann also strengthened her religious belief. She felt that she was brought back to Israel, just as it is written in the TANAKH (Hebrew Bible).
When she was walking just outside the Old City one day, she saw a sign that read “Discover the City of David”. She had never really heard about the City of David, and when she started learning about it, and doing research, she realized that this is actually the true location of Biblical Zion. “It says it right there in the Second Book of Samuel,” says Heymann.
She felt that this is where she wanted to make a difference; to show people the world over that Zion is the most significant place in Jewish history, and that this is based on unequivocal proof discovered at the City of David.
Heymann began working at the City of David. She was awed by the significance of the place, historically and biblically. She also felt that there was so much potential among the international pro-Israel Christian community to learn from this. She developed the “Jerusalem Watch” project at the City of David, creating videos and lectures which she posted online, to explain the significance of Zion and Jerusalem to the pro-Israel Christian community. One of the videos on the project received over 250,000 views. Another video she did with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) on Facebook is close to its two million mark.
“I believe that the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was a watershed moment that changed how Christians related to Israel. All of a sudden, prophesies were coming alive,” Heymann says with conviction.
Even with a few existing programs engaging the pro-Israel market, Heymann feels that there is still a lot to be done. As a result, she is starting her own organization, Align With Zion.
“Israel needs to understand that it has a big responsibility to build platforms to engage the pro-Israel Christians in learning about and understanding Israel today from a biblical Jewish narrative. I feel that this is my niche. I believe that I can make a real difference in this area.”
(Article Published in the JPost Magazine; Friday, 16 November, 2018)