The city of Pittsburgh is a far cry from an Israeli kibbutz. But after eight years of a hectic life in Manhattan, it sure feels like one to graphic artist Inbal Blumenfeld.
Blumenfeld, who along with her husband Tal, was born and reared on a kibbutz near the Golan Heights, is relieved to be living a quieter lifestyle after leaving New York last year.
“Pittsburgh has a kibbutz environment,” said Blumenfeld. “It’s so much more peaceful and quiet than New York City. Pittsburgh is just like the way we grew up, with a backyard and grass, and so much greenery. And it feels like a community here. Everyone is great and willing to help us, like on the kibbutz.”
Blumenfeld and her husband lived on the kibbutz in Israel until 1998, when she was 22 years old. Then she and Tal came to the United States for a three-month cross-country camping trip. They never left.
“One thing led to another,” Blumenfeld said. “We didn’t plan it.”
The couple ended up in New York City, where Blumenfeld studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, finally nurturing her love of design, along with her love of photography, which she first discovered while serving in the Israeli Air Force. Tal also was able to fulfill his long-held dream of being a photographer in the Big Apple.
After graduating from FIT, Blumenfeld was immediately offered employment with Pentagram, a large, internationally recognized design firm. She cut her teeth there for a year, sometimes working 17-hour days, then moved on to another large firm in the city, designing for such clients as GAP and Mott’s.
The Blumenfelds left New York after the downturn in the economy, when work in the design field became scarce. Despite her summa cum laude degree from FIT, and her years of experience creating ads for big clients, Blumenfeld found herself out of work in New York.
“It was a business decision,” Blumenfeld said of her layoff. “The whole design team at the firm was laid off. I was in my third trimester of pregnancy at the time. It was hard to interview for jobs with this big belly. We weren’t sure what to do.”
So, she and her husband decided to come to Pittsburgh, to be closer to his family, including his father, who left Israel for Pittsburgh several years ago.
“It’s been amazing here in Pittsburgh,” Blumenfeld said. “With the unfortunate incidence of the economy, we have gotten so much help.”
Blumenfeld has been marketing herself since her arrival here, seeking freelance work. She has been contacting area synagogues, offering her services in designing logos and invitations for weddings and b’nai mitzvah, among other things. Although, because of the economy, she is having a tough time finding work, Blumenfeld is nonetheless thrilled that she, her husband, and her baby boy now live in Pittsburgh.
“It feels so much like home here,” she said. “Though I feel very fortunate that I worked with such huge companies in New York, I feel like this is the place for us to raise a family.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)