aliyah

Chanukah Hanukkah Is Almost Here

Shalom Y’All:

It’s been almost four months since we made aliyah, but it seems like years.

During this time In Israel we bought a new car, a new stovetop,  a new TV, and various small appliances which we should have bought in the States.

We’ve prayed in  a number of different synagogues, seen an excellent play in English, been invited to a Shabbat meal with two couples we did not know before, attended an Israeli wedding, and celebrated  the High Holidays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah here.

Despite the fact that the neighborhood we live in has both religious and secular residents, there were few cars on the street on Rosh Hashanah and no cars at all on Yom Kippur. In fact, on Yom Kippur, many kids ride their bikes on the streets throughout Israel since the streets are free of vehicles. On Sukkot, many food establishments have their own succahs and it is very interesting to see multiple sukkot on streets with restaurants. Jerusalem and many other cities have large public sukkot featuring free entertainment. There is a festive holiday atmosphere in Israel throughout Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

We’ve also spent loads of time filing out forms, including those required to: open a bank account and a checking account,  buy a car, obtain an Israeli Driver’s license-which requires multiple completed forms, an eye test , at least one driving lesson and a driving test, even though we have American licenses – obtain temporary Israeli passports issued after being in Israel for at least three months, but less than a year.

I also attend an Ulpan (one run by the City of Jerusalem) three days a week from 8:30 AM (everything begins early in Israel) to 1 PM. The Ulpan is a school for learning the Hebrew language. The government pays for the first 500 hours of instruction, which, at three days a week, is about ten months. The school administrator tests every student before she assigns them to a class. Those with no knowledge of Hebrew are assigned to a class which meets five days a week, while those with fairly good Hebrew skills attend only twice a week. The rest are three day a weekers. While instruction is in Hebrew, there is, in my humble opinion, too much of an emphasis on grammar. Too little time is spent on conversation. This may be because the classes are too large to engage in meaningful conversation.

The classes composition is like a mini UN. My class has a number of French speaking students from France, a Spanish and Portuguese speaking student from Brazil, English speakers from the United States, a Danish student, an Australian, a Canadian and other students whose origins I do not know since they are new.

It’s getting cool in Jerusalem, although it’s still much warmer in the southern part of the country.  Somehow, I neglected to take everyday turtlenecks with me and I have yet to find a store that sells them. Shipping them from America is very expensive, as the cost of shipping often exceeds the cost of the purchase. The only thing to do is to wait until someone I know visits Israel and is willing to bring a few items with them for me. It seems Israelis do not wear turtlenecks, although I’m not sure why. Correction: I have been told of a store that sells turtlenecks in Geula, a religious neighborhood in Jerusalem.

On a more serious note, there is a slight undercurrent of anxiety in the country due to the  Arab violence. While the threat is real, statistically the probability of any particular person getting hurt is much much less than the chances of getting hurt in an auto accident. Still, it’s unnerving and people at bus stops, for example, try to sit or stand with their backs to the wall. It’s most unfortunate that the incitement by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Isis has created a situation where young Arabs are led to believe that stabbing and killing a Jew is somehow defending Jerusalem for Islam and a desirable act. Building additional barriers around Jerusalem and increased intelligence have helped curb the violence here and the majority of the incidents are now taking place in the territories.  But, hopefully, this too shall pass. In the meantime, Jews are just a tad more careful and those licensed to carry firearms are increasingly doing so.

On a brighter note, Chanukah Hanukkah begins in three weeks. Here are some unique Chanukah shirts and gifts:

Make Latkes Chanukah T-Shirt

Funny Latkes Chanukah t Shirt

Hanukkah Lights Hooded Sweatshirt

Funny Hanukkah Lites Hoodie

Real Men Make Latkes Chanukah Tank Top

It takes a Real Man to Make a Perfect Hanukkah Latke

Oy To The World Funny Jewish Zip Hoodie

Funny Hanukkah Hoodie and Oh So True.

These shirts and hoodies come in many sizes, styles and colors. Buy one for yourself or give them as Chanukah gifts. See the entire collection at JewTee’s Chanukah Hanukkah Shirts and Gifts.

Categories: Aliya, aliyah, Israel, It Happened In Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish T Shirts and Gifts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aliyah Adventure Part 3

Shalom:

I managed to divide our possessions into three:  to be shipped to Israel,  to be stored in a warehouse and to be given away. I couldn’t believe how much stuff I had accumulated in the years we lived in the house and how much of it I really didn’t need or didn’t even know I had. The give away stuff filled many boxes and contractor bags.

Before the shipping company came, we separated out everything that was going to Israel. When the company representative came, he looked at all the stuff and estimated the size of the container we would need- 20′, rather than the larger 40′. That was a relief because there’s no way a three bedroom apartment could hold the contents of the larger container.

The shipping company came, packed our stuff and loaded it into the container, which would not be opened until it arrived at our apartment in Israel. A much smaller truck came and took the stuff designated for the warehouse. Now we were left with everything we decided to give away. After the kids decided what they wished to have, we invited friends, then neighbors to take whatever they wished. A substantial amount remained. A call to a trash removal company and their estimate of the charges for removing the trash, convinced us that we had to figure out another way to dispose of the leftovers. We decided to simply pack it into boxes and contractor bags and put it in front of the house for passerby to take. This proved to be a win win idea. However, some stuff still remained and at the end we had to call the trash removal company to haul it all away the morning we left for the airport.

There was a ceremony at the airport for those going on the Nefesh B’Nefesh (the organization that helps those wishing to make Aliyah) charter flight and their family and friends. It consisted of speeches and more speeches, with refreshments on hand to keep people awake.

The flight was uneventful. When we arrived at Ben Gurion airport, we were loaded onto buses which drove us to an used terminal in the airport. When we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by soldiers and well wishers singing Hebrew songs and waving Israeli flags. It was very touching.

Inside the terminal, reunions with family and friends who came to greet the new arrivals and more speeches and refreshments. Then the passengers proceeded upstairs for processing and for their first payment of 1250 Israeli Shekels (about $300). Families receive more money and retirees a bit less. Future payments are sent to the home of the passenger and continue monthly for about 6 months. This money is intended to help new citizens ease their way into Israeli life. Everyone also enrolled in the health plan of their choice. Basic coverage is free for a year.

Two days later, we were given our Israeli passports, officially making us citizens of Israel. Photographers were on hand to record the occasion and produce magnet mementos.  Customs officials met with those who sent lifts to clear their shipments. Refreshments were enjoyed by all.

We were told to open a checking account at a local bank so that the Ministry of Absorption could send us our monthly checks. This was not an easy as it sounds. Choosing a bank in Israel must be done carefully. Most banks charge fees for both withdrawing and depositing money. A few do not. So it’s depositor beware.

Several days later, immigrants in the Jerusalem area met with representatives of the Absorption Agency to learn of the benefits to which they are entitled as new immigrants (Olim) and to give the Ministry the checking account numbers to which their monthly checks should be sent.

After this,we Olim are on our own, but we do have a Nefesh B’Nefesh representative to call should we have questions or encounter difficulties.

Categories: Aliya, aliyah, Israel, Jewish | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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