It is not often a 57-year-old man leaves his job to move halfway across the world.
Still, not too many people were shocked when Howard Mischel told his colleagues at Standard & Poor's he was leaving for Israel.
The 25-year veteran of the municipal industry, whose last day as practice leader for Standard & Poor's bond insurance ratings group was Aug. 3, has had his heart set on moving to Israel for decades.
"It's always been a long-term goal of mine to try and get myself to Israel," said Mischel, who keeps kosher and observes the Sabbath. "I've always had it on my horizon to be able to get there and live there."
This story begins 70 years ago, when Mischel's mother and her cousin were separated fleeing Poland at the onset of World War II.
His mother ended up in the U.S., her cousin in Israel.
The family remained apart for 30 years, until Mischel visited Israel in 1971 as a sophomore in college.
Since then, he has visited two or three times a year, worked on a kibbutz, and volunteered at an army base during the 2006 war with Hezbollah.
He says by now he knows Jerusalem as well as he knows his native Queens. On Aug. 18, he will be moving to a town called Modi'in, halfway between Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv.
Mischel has worn a number of hats in public finance. He started as a junior credit analyst at Moody's Investors Service, helped establish the letter-of-credit business at UBS, led municipal research at Marine Midland Bank, was a senior vice president in the fixed-income department at MFS Investment Management, and was managing director at American Capital Access before joining Standard & Poor's in 2001.
This is not the end of his career in finance. He founded a company, Makor Consulting LLC, and hopes to advise on project and infrastructure financing in Israel. "Makor" is a Hebrew word meaning "source," or "fountain."
Things work differently over there. Most local projects in the country of 7.4 million are financed at the national level, in part through the sale of Israel Bonds.
Mischel does not see his background in a system in which localities routinely access capital markets putting him at a disadvantage. Quite the contrary - he believes his experience in a different system may help him bring novel ideas to public finance in Israel.
Besides, the area is not unfamiliar to him. Early in his career he worked as an urban planner in Israel's Environmental Protection Service.
Mischel and his wife have four children, one of whom already lives in Israel. He anticipates that within a year or two all of his children, as well as his seven grandchildren, will live there as well.