Posts Tagged With: Israel

Thoughts On The New Year

sunrise

It’s almost Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This year Rosh Hashanah begins Sunday night, October 2nd. The upcoming year according to the Jewish calendar will be 5777.

I don’t know what the New Year will bring, but the one thing I’m sure of is that it will not be a quiet year. This past year was full of surprises and I’m sure the new year will bring even more.

To begin with, last October no one would have predicted that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Furthermore, while Hillary was expected to be the Democratic candidate, no one would have predicted that she would be distrusted by so many.

Here are a few more of the major events which happened this past year:

Iran was given $400 million in cash after four American hostages were released.

The Iran Nuclear deal went into effect and sanctions against Iran were lifted. This resulted in a huge infusion of funds into Iran which is likely to be used to continue to fund terrorism.

Horrific terror incidents occurred around the world, resulting in the tragic death of so many.

Refugees flocked to Europe and many other parts of the world and their sheer numbers guarantee that the character of many of these countries will be changed.

Russia signed a pact with Syria and now has a foothold in the Middle East.

The Zika virus spread to the United States.

Racial violence reared its ugly head in the United States and seems likely to continue.

Anti semitism has increased throughout the world , as has hatred of Israel. On many college campuses pro Israel students have been attacked, and pro Israeli speakers prevented from speaking.

Violence once again broke out in Israel as Palestinians took to knife attacks, shootings and and car ramming against Israelis.

Shimon Peres died and world leaders, including  Mahmoud Abbas, came to the funeral. However, representatives of the Joint List, the Arab party in the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) boycotted the funeral.

Britain citizens voted to leave the European Union. What will happen to the Union without Britain’s participation is unknown.

A number of Arab countries cut their ties with Iran. Some are even starting to dialogue with Israel, albeit under the radar.

Israel and Turkey reconciled their differences and mended relations.

Israel is once again being welcomed by some African nations.

That was last year. So what can we expect in the coming year?

A new president will assume the mantle of leadership of the United States. Where he or she will take the country remains to be seen.

A continuation of terror incidents seems all but certain, given that ISIS has not been defeated. Anti semitic incidents can also be expected to continue.

But since few of the events of 5776 could be predicted, I cannot begin to guess what will happen in 5777. The world is in a state of flux and anything could happen.

So what can we do? Let’s start the new year not only by praying for world peace, but by trying to do what we can to achieve it in a limited way by reconciling with family and friends with whom we have become estranged.

As Jews we must also pledge to support each other and the existence of the State of Israel. While we may not agree with all their policies, wholesale condemnation of Israel results only in whetting the appetites of those who seek its destruction. We must remember that, as the only Jewish state in the world, Israel is the one place that any Jew will be welcomed and accepted. Jews finally have a home of their own and a place to go when their host countries make life difficult for them.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and joyous New Year, a year in which world will finally achieve peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Israel, Politics, Pro Israel Post, Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel At 68

Shalom Y”all:

Beginning last night and ending nightfall this evening, Israelis celebrate Yom YaZicharon- the Day of Remembrance. This is Israel’s Memorial Day, the day on which Israel commemorates and pays tribute to Israelis who sacrificed their lives for their country or were killed by terrorists. Unlike America’s Memorial Day which marks the unofficial start of summer and is celebrated by going to the beach and barbecuing, Remembrance Day in Israel is a solemn affair. Sirens sound, the media tells stories of the fallen, and people visit graves of soldiers killed in the line of duty and people felled by terrorist attacks. It may be that the reason Israelis take this day so seriously is because since most Israelis serve in the military or have relatives who do so, death through conflict is not as remote a possibility. Furthermore,  since Israel is such a small country, many many Israelis know someone who paid the ultimate sacrifice, or was injured in conflict, or through a terrorist attack.

As night falls over Israel, the celebration shifts from one of solemnity to one of jubilation- Israel Independence Day has begun. The juxtaposition of the two days reminds all that freedom is not free; it is achieved only through the sacrifice of others.

Although the current State of Israel is only 68 years young, about 3,000 years ago King David defeated the Jebusites and established the capitol of  the first independent Jewish kingdom in Jerusalem. Jews ruled Jerusalem for over five hundred years. They lost their independence when the Romans conquered the city in the year 66 (over five hundred years before the birth of Mohammed) and did not regain it until 1948.

What’s happened to Israel during the last 68 years? Israel has been involved in 13 military conflicts, eight of them  wars. These repeated military actions have resulted in the deaths of  23, 447 Israelis. This past year alone there were 68 Israeli casualties of terrorism. Israel today has 9,000 families who have lost a loved one to war or terrorism, including close to 5,000 war widows. Israel is currently threatened by Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Iran and the Palestinians.

In efforts to make peace, Israel uprooted 2,500 people from the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula (Yamit) as part of the peace treaty with Egypt. As a peace offering to the Palestinians, about 9,000 Israeli citizens were expelled from their homes in Gaza and in four towns on the West Bank,

How has the world reacted to Israeli’s presence in the family of nations?  For the most part by trying to: isolate Israel, delegitimize it and ultimately end its existence. It has even resorted to rewriting history. For example, UNESCO’s executive board recently adopted a resolution ignoring the Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall and pronouncing these and two other biblical Jewish sites,  Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs, to be Islamic holy sites. It referred to Hebron and Bethlehem as, “Palestinian sites.” 33 countries voted for this resolution, while only six countries- Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States-  voted against the resolution. Among the countries supporting the resolution were such Christian countries as France, Spain and Sweden. How they could do so when they know that the New Testament speaks of the  Jewish Temple in Jerusalem  and that  Jesus the Jew preached in Jewish Jerusalem hundreds of years before Mohammed was born, speaks to the lack of concern for truth and the power of Islamic constituencies within these countries.

Israel is also plagued by countless NGOS within its borders whose sole purpose is to harm Israel. For an in depth look at what these NGOS and some countries are doing to besmirch Israel, read Catch the Jew, by Tuvia Tenenbom.

Why the wish for Israel’s demise? The existence of the State of Israel is an anathema to those who hate Jews. Instead of Jews being totally subject to the whims of the governments in the countries in which they reside, 43% of the Jews in the world now reside in Israel, a country which is economically stable and has its own defense forces. So to try to bring about the downfall of Israel, the Jew haters criticize virtually every Israeli action. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions against Israel, but only 3 resolutions against all the other countries in the world- one against the Syrian regime, which has already murdered 200,000 of its people, one against Iran and one on North Korea. No resolution was adopted against human rights abuses in China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, etc.

The BDS movement is alive and well and continues to gain new supporters. Since  criticizing Israel is accepted, it’s not very far from there to anti semitic rants against Jews everywhere. One has only to see the signs carried by protestors in Seattle during anti Israel demonstrations during the Gaza war to see how this has translated to raw anti-semitism. http://www.ruthfullyyours.com/2014/07/16/shocking-anti-semitic-hatefest-in-seattle-appalling-must-see-pictures/

Anti-semitism is now espoused by many groups on the left, including Britain’s Labor Party. Anti Semitism is also on the rise in Europe and Islamic terrorists now routinely target Jews in places such as France. Therefore, among the 36, 000 people who immigrated to Israel last year, about 8,000 were from France. This number is expected to rise.

The Palestinians continue in their efforts to get Israel to make dangerous concessions by using the power of public relations to tell tales that aren’t  true, which most of the world is all too ready to accept.  France and others will soon try to force Israel to make dangerous, one sided, concessions at the Paris “Peace Conference” which, if adopted,  will result in strengthening Hamas and creating additional threats to Israel and the moderate Middle Eastern countries.

So on this 68th birthday, why should Israel celebrate? All this misery, loss of life and hatred are depressing at best. How has Israel reacted? By adopting an attitude of life must go on and let’s live life to the fullest. Israel has become the  “Start Up Nation ” and has invented many of the world’s most innovative products and services such as: amniocentesis, drip irrigation, desalination, drones, baby monitors, office printers, instant messaging, Pillcam, flash drives, Centrino computer ships, Waze,  and Get Taxi. Israel’s concern for others has led it to participate in many humanitarian efforts including being the first on the scene to give relief after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, and among the first to send aid to Japan after its 2011 earthquake. Almost daily, Israel rescues wounded Syrians from the war in Syria and treats them is Israeli hospitals. These Syrians are probably enemies of Israel and many may be members of Al Quaida affiliated groups. Since 2013, more than 2,000 Syrians  have been saved. This despite the fact that Syria has no diplomatic relations with Israel and has fought against it.

Israel’s military is among the strongest and most moral armies in the world, even notifying civilians in targeted areas (“roof knocking”) of upcoming attacks. ( The United States forces have now begun to do this in Iraq). Ultra Orthodox Jews and Arabs within Israel, especially Christian Arabs, are beginning to volunteer for the Israeli Army. (Like Jews, Druze Arabs are conscripted into the army and are truly loyal Israeli citizens.) Israel’s economy is robust. And, of course, unlike most Arab countries who refused to accept Palestinian refugees and now Syrian refugees, Israel absorbed millions of Jewish refugees, many from underdeveloped countries. Finally, polls indicate that Israel is one of the happiest countries in the world.

So let’s celebrate Israel’s miraculous existence and wish it a true peace with all its neighbors.

Categories: Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Middle East, Politics, Pro Israel Post, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

So Many Hamans Only One Purim

Shalom Y’all:

Purim is less than two weeks away. It begins after sunset on March 23 and ends after nightfall on March 24. In Jerusalem, it begins after sunset on March 24 and ends nightfall of March 25.

Still don’t have a Purim costume? Here are some t shirts, bibs and onesies to solve the problem.

Purim Queen Esther T

A real beauty.

 

My First Purim Long Sleeve Onesie

It’s Purim. Let’s Party.

 

#QueenEsther T Shirt

A Beautiful Woman Is a Joy To Behold.

 

Only One Purim T Shirt

So Many Hamans!

This year, Israel and the Jews are faced with many Hamans- those overtly Anti-Israel and Anti- Semitic, those who soft pedal their Anti-Semitism, and self hating Jews who aid these two groups.

Those calling for the destruction of Israel and Jews include: Iran’s leaders, Ali Khamenei and Hassan Rouhani; Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh of Gaza and Khaled Meshal of Qatar; Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah and ISIS. Of course, the members of the groups they lead are firm adherents to this Judeo hatred.

In the second category are those who preach a softer form of anti Israel and anti Jew hatred. These include, but are certainly not limited to: Mahmoud Abbas, who incites his followers to murder Jews and not only refuses to condemn the murder of Jews, but bestows honor on those who do so. Furthermore, his vision of a Palestinian state is one which is Judenrein- free of Jews.  Members of the United Nations who hold frequent hearings on Israel’s “human rights violations,” but refuse to condemn Palestinian violence and the thousands of United Nations workers who teach hatred of and incitement against Jews in the Palestinian refugee camps and schools are also part of this group, as are NGOs whose reason d’être is the dissolution of the Jewish State.  Members and supporters of the BDS movement whose real aim is to rid the world of the State of Israel are also included here.

In the third category are such groups as J Street, Break the Silence, Rabbis for Human Rights, etc. These groups seek to besmirch Israel in all ways possible and champion the Palestinian cause. They either don’t understand, or care, that the Palestinians do not trust or like them as Palestinians have pride in their heritage, while these Jews obviously don’t like theirs. These groups too would, despite their rhetoric to the contrary, like for Israel to disappear as a Jewish state.

Furthermore, some Arabs who are Israeli citizens and many who are permanent residents of Israel do not support the country in which they live.

In short, the world is currently a very dangerous place for Israelis and Jews everywhere. Many Jews, especially from France and Russia are emigrating to Israel and the numbers will only continue to rise.

So what can Israel do to improve the situation? Further relinquishment of its land and the establishment of a Palestinian state would only lead to additional territory controlled by Hamas and extreme danger for the existence of the State of Israel and neighboring Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan.

Israel should revoke the tax exempt status of the many foreign funded NGOs who work against Israel’s interests and prevent these groups from being in Israel.

Israel should, and is, blocking the transmission of incitement over its air waves.

Israel can and should try to improve the lives of the loyal Arabs who live within its borders. Those Arabs who serve in either the military or perform National Service should be rewarded and all attempts should be made to integrate them fully into Israeli society.  For example, recently a group of Christian Arabs who served in the military were awarded scholarships by the International Conference of Christians and Jews in conjunction with the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum.

The towns of the Druze, Muslim Arabs who are required to serve in the Israeli army and serve with distinction, should be upgraded and all attempts should be made to fully integrate the Druze into Israeli society. The needs of the Bedouins should be addressed and attempts made to carve out a livelihood for them which is in concert with their heritage.

I believe that all Israeli citizens should be required to perform National Service. This, of course, will be very unpopular with many Arabs and Haredi groups. However, the program can be tailored to allow participants to work within their cities and society engaging in needed services which will help their communities. Performing national service will give all groups a feeling of being part of the State in which they reside. Those not wishing to serve should be asked to leave the country.

Everyone living in Israel should be required to sign a loyalty oath. Those unwilling to sign should be asked to leave Israel. It’s unfortunate that this should be a requirement for all Israel’s residents and citizens, but the presence of a fifth column in Israel is a fact of life.

Finally, Israel should do more to encourage Jewish emigration from all parts of the globe and make it easier for immigrants to integrate into Israeli society. Artificial barriers, such as excessive paperwork and failure to accept foreign credentials, should be removed and additional housing should be built throughout the country to allow both Israelis and immigrants to live within their means.

I also hope that the good Lord will see fit to quickly eliminate the threats that face us now and allow Jews everywhere to live lives of peace and tranquility.

HAPPY PURIM!

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Anti Semitism, Israel, Jewish, Jewish Holidays, Middle East, Purim, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Aliya Adventures- Part 2 The Moving Blues-Part 1

Shalom Y’all:

The next step, which perhaps should have been done much earlier, was to find a place to live. We were initially looking to buy an apartment, but the deal for the apartment we wanted fell thorough.  At first we persisted in trying to buy another apartment since we felt that any money paid toward rent would be a waste. However, buying an apartment without actually seeing it is very difficult. My son-in-law went to see a few apartments for us and even took multiple pictures of the apartments. However, nothing quite met our specifications.

As the departure date grew closer, we got increasingly nervous and decided we would have to rent initially.

Our search for agents also proved difficult. Most of the agents we contacted had two or three apartments to show and after that they simply stopped looking for others. We were growing increasingly desperate. Many apartments that were advertised online were unavailable. Finally, we settled for a three bedroom apartment which did not have everything we wanted, was in so so condition, and was more than we hoped to pay. But as we had to live somewhere, it would have to do. Also, since we found it through an agent, we would have to pay a month’s rent for his services.

Now a word about Israeli apartments. Unfurnished Israeli apartments come without anything and by that that I mean anything- no appliances, closets, furniture, etc. Just plain empty. Renters are required to buy appliances, furniture and wardrobes and either take it all with them when they move, or sell them to the landlord and/or next renter. Then there are semi furnished apartments which come with appliances and maybe wardrobes, which Israelis use instead of closets. Finally there are furnished apartments which come with everything.

We were hoping to get a semi furnished apartment so that we could take our own furniture and ultimately move it to an apartment we would buy. This apartment was furnished, but the landlord agreed to remove whatever items we wished.

Since some of our kids live in Israel and some in the States, we decided that, although we had to sell our house, we would need to have a place to stay in the States when we come to visit our kids in America.  Our feeling is that for a for a week or two it’s OK to stay with the kids, but after that we become a burden. So we decided to buy a mother daughter house with one of our kids. However, since this house is not yet identified, much less purchased, we would have to put any furniture, appliances, clothes, or household stuff we wished to bring into paid storage.

Finally, since Israel uses 220 voltage instead of America’s 110, all our electrical appliances would not work in Israel unless we purchased a heavy duty transformer. We decided not to do so.  So we had to decide what to do with our appliances, both large and small.

Essentially we had to divide the contents of our house into five categories- Israel, storage in America,  remaining in the house, donations and disposal.

This meant going through the entire house and garage and evaluating their contents. I had no idea I owned so much stuff until I had to sift through it. Things I hadn’t seen for many years suddenly appeared. And, even though I hadn’t had a need for them all these years, now that I had them I had to decide what to do with them. For example, my vinyl records. At first I thought they must be worth loads of money, but a quick trip on Google convinced me that they were not worth selling. I would have to give them away since I had no means of listening to them. Old suitcases and various carrying bags would also have to be given away or disposed of, as would old cameras, phones and clothes.

There are various companies that ship possessions to Israel. But they all basically have three types of containers- shared, 20 foot and 40 foot. Obviously, the larger the container the greater the price. Companies send out appraisers to review the contents of the house or apartment and decide on the size of the container required. This means that what will be sent to Israel should be separated out so the shipper will be able to make an accurate judgement.

So the first thing we did was decide what to take to Israel. We decided to take neither large appliances nor small ones. We also decided not to take our couches, but to leave them in storage for our American home, since we did not know if the couches would fit into our rented apartment or our future apartment. That hurt, since these couches were barely a year old and I really liked them. Deciding which clothes and books to take was even more difficult, since we knew space would be an issue. Despite all my attempts to prune down my choices, I’m sure I still took much more than I will have room for.

To Be Continued

Categories: Israel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Aliyah Adventures Part 1- Documents, Documents

Shalom Y’all:

Sorry I haven’t written in such a long time, but we’ve busy with Aliyah activities.

We decided to make aliyah after our pilot trip during December and January. Proceeding with aliyah meant the following:

First we had to decide whether we could afford to keep our house while paying for the rental or purchase of an apartment in Israel. The answer to that question was a no brainer- we could not. So we had to arrange for the sale of our house. We had intended to sell it without an agent, but an agent persuaded us that going solo would mean that lots of curiosity seekers and unqualified buyers would come to see our house, while he assured us, he would bring only real buyers to see it. Of course, he wanted an exclusive. We agreed to give him an exclusive for 45 days, after which the sale would be open to all. Of course, if we found the buyer ourselves, we would not be obligated to pay him a commission.

The agent assured us that we did not have to “stage” the house, but we did do our best to straighten it out. After two weeks, we had a buyer whom the agent convinced to meet our price. Contracts were drawn up and signed and the closing was set for mid May, with the stipulation that if we stayed in the house beyond that date, we would pay rent. As we are not planning to leave until mid July, that was a given.

Then we had to gather up all our original government documents including: passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc. and obtain a letter from a Rabbi certifying our Jewishness. The latter was necessary to enter Israel under the Law of Return, which grants every Jew the right to settle in Israel. Then we had to fax these documents to Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization that assists those making aliyah.

Now for most people while gathering the above is an inconvenience, for me it was much more difficult. I was born in Amsterdam Holland and the Dutch have not yet made birth certificates available online. Furthermore, at the time of my birth, the city was divided into different sectors and each produced their own birth certificates. After locating the area of my birth, we requested the birth certificate only to be told that there was a fee for it, roughly $17, which would have to be paid in Dutch currency. No, they don’t take credit cards, checks, or bank wires. Only cold hard cash. Our appeals fell on deaf ears and finally they suggested we ask a friend or relative living in Holland to bring the money to them. Luckily, I still have cousins who live in Amsterdam and one of them graciously agreed to pay the fee and procure the document. I’m not sure what would have happened had I had no contacts in Holland.

The birth certificate turned out to be hand written in Dutch. Surprise. At first, the Nefesh B’Nefesh officials we were working with asked that we get an official translation since they could not find my name, nor the names of my parents, nor my date of birth. Once we pointed these things out to them, they were satisfied. Or so it seemed.

My husband, who was born in Belgium, had much less of a problem since his Belgian birth certificate contained English headings for the pertinent data and was free.

After all the documents were reviewed and approved by Nefesh B’Nefesh, we, as do all aliyah applicants, had to make an appointment with the Jewish agency and present the original documents to the interviewer. The interviewer asks questions, reviews the documents and makes recommendations as to whether the person should be allowed to make aliyah. Within two weeks or so, the applicant is informed of the decision. Most, if not all applicants, are approved, as so were we.

The next step is deciding the date of the Aliyah and booking a flight with Nefesh B’Nefesh to Israel. The flight is heavily subsidized and people can either fly on a group or charter flight. or make their own arrangements. We decided to take a charter flight, which means flying with El Al on a special flight on which everyone is making Aliya. These flights are often met by Israeli government representatives at the airport and all processing for citizenship is done on the plane and in the airport. Arrangements for processing can also be made on the other types of flights.

Part Two – Moving Madness

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

JewTee Blog Purim Edition

Shalom Y’All:

As I hope you know, Purim begins on the eve of March 4 and ends nightfall March 5. On Purim we celebrate our salvation through Queen Esther from the edict Haman prepared to annihilate all the Jews in the Persian empire.

On Purim Jews listen to the Megillah at night and the following morning, give Shalach Monos- gifts of food and/or drink to family and friends- charity to the poor  and eat a big meal in the late afternoon. In the carnival spirit of the day, kids, and often adults, dress in costumes and liquid refreshment of all kinds is imbibed.

In the topsy -turvey spirit of the day, I bring you the latest “news”:

Obama Netanyahu Friends At Last

Let’s Be Friends, Make Amends, Now’s the Time To Say I’m Sorry.

In a bombshell announcement today, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have agreed to bury the hatchet, become friends and learn from one another. President Obama will teach PM Netanyahu how to shoot basketballs into baskets while PM Netanyahu will teach President Obama how to shoot sunflower seed husks from the mouth into a bowl.


 

Sunny Days Ahead

Jew Are Refugees

In a shocking reversal of long-standing policy, the newly appointed Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Sun, has declared that all Jews living outside of Israel are refugees and has pledged 3 billion dollars to their resettlement in Israel. Consequently, UNWRA will be disbanded and a new agency, UNIRA (United Nations Israel Resettlement Agency) will be established.

Mr. Sun reached for comment at his residence in New York, explained that since all Jews once lived in Israel, any Jew not living there now is a refugee. Furthermore, he explained, since the borders of ancient Israel encompass much more land than the current state, Jews will be free to live anywhere within the ancient borders of the Jewish state. Arabs who wish to continue living there may do so if they agree to be “dhimiis.” (Druze Arabs and the families of Bedouin, Muslim and Christian Arabs who have served in the Israeli army will enjoy full rights.) Arabs who are unhappy with this turn of events will be free to move to any of the 22 Arab countries in the Middle East.

Reached for comment after this bombshell announcement, former West Coast Bank President Atbat said, “Oh well, we gave it a good shot. I’ve always wanted to ‘paint the town red’ in Tel Aviv and now I’ll have my chance.”

Hummus leaders in Graze City also seemed resigned to the new state of affairs. They explained that they had been offered a lucrative financial opportunity to turn their rockets into drones to be used to deliver packages from e-commerce companies to residents of the Jewish state and to turn their tunnels into underground shopping malls. The entire Graze Strip will become a vacation playland with separate beaches for men and women, and rocket building and tunnel digging activities for kids.

 

Green Is Better Than Red

Green Is Better Than Red

As to their enmity of the Jewish State, Hummus head Khabead Mashup said, “While I was having a good smoke on my Hookah, it came to me. We’ve tried to fight them. That didn’t work. It just gave us tons of rubble to clean up and many funerals to attend. So now, we may as well join them and get our hands on some real money.  When we feel like fighting and getting our own state, we’ll just attack one of the 22 Arab countries who did so little to help us.”

 


 

Beauty Is In The Eyes Of The Beholder

Beauty Is In The Eyes of  The Beholder

Hussle Realhoney, Iran’s Leader, shocked the world today by announcing it was renouncing  the manufacture of nuclear weapons and instead focusing on establishing a yearly Purim contest. (Iran, formerly Persia, is the location of the original Purim story.) “Instead of being hit with sanctions and losing revenue from the lack  of oil sales, we will make Tehran the world’s wealthiest city. Girls from all over the world will come to Tehran for the title of the world’s most beautiful girl. Contestants, who will need to be sponsored by their home country, will spend months being pampered and prepped with the world’s best beauty products. Of course, in keeping with our traditions, female contestants will have to be fully clothed with only parts of their faces allowed to be seen. Since true beauty lies on the inside, however, there is no need for  greater exposure.”

On the day of the contest, all contestants will appear before the “King” who will judge their beauty and abilities and pick that year’s World Beauty Queen. The Queen’s responsibilities will include selfies with all World Leaders.

Asked who the “King” would be, Beauty Contest developers said that while no final decision had been made, those in the running included: Prince Charles, Big Sean, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tiger Woods, Simon Cowell and Jesse James, all of whom have chosen women other than those they were married to.

Despite thousands of requests from married men, the part of Queen Vashti will not be played by the wife of a married man.

That’s it for now.

HAPPY PURIM TO ALL!

Categories: Israel, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Jewish Humor, Purim, Purim, religion | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Pilot Trip Part 2

Shalom Y’All:

The next Friday night we decided to visit yet another synagogue. That’s one of the advantages of being in Jerusalem, synagogues galore. This synagogue turned out to have an English speaking Rabbi, not such a big deal since many of the synagogue rabbis in Jerusalem speak English. But this Rabbi even gave his weekly sermon in English, something that is not easy to find, even in Jerusalem.

Since clearly everyone in this congregation was an English speaker, we thought we had hit pay dirt. After services, we looked around and tried to find a friendly face. We saw a gentlemen speaking what sounded like British English conversing with someone. He seemed pleasant. We waited until he finished his conversation and then approached him. He was friendly, engaging and soon introduced us to his wife. (In Israel it is very common for women to attend Friday night services.)

We spoke for a while and wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, they invited us to join them for a meal in their home the following Friday night. Despite our many trips to Israel, we have rarely been invited, by other than a family member,  to a meal in someone’s home. We’ve been told that a reason for this is that since Israelis work on Sunday, Shabbat- Friday night and Saturday- is the only time they are able to spend time with their families. We were, therefore, thrilled to receive the invitation.

Our visit to another synagogue on Shabbat day, Saturday, did not result in any new contacts. Furthermore, a repeat visit to the English sermon synagogue did not produce any new acquaintances.

It turns out our “British” friends were Australians who had made aliya only two years earlier.  Our dinner with them was delightful and we were even invited to their daughter’s engagement party and wedding. They are truly a lovely couple and we hope we will become good friends.

We continued visiting other synagogues and very finally told about one which was very close by. This synagogue was composed of about half Israelis and half Anglos. The Anglos were very friendly and we made a friend here also.

To sum up our experience: If you want to make friends with the Anglos in Israel, you have to approach them first and engage them in conversation. My guess is that since there are so many tourists in Israel, Anglo Israelis do not bother introducing themselves to every new face they see in the synagogue. Furthermore, even if you do speak with these Anglos, don’t expect an invitation to dine with them, since quality time with their families is limited and thus greatly  valued.

We subsequently learned of more synagogues that have a large percentage of Anglos attending, but did not have the opportunity to visit them since our time in Jerusalem was limited.

 

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

Israel Here We Come

Shalom Y’all:

We finally did it. We decided to move to Israel, or as Israelis say, make aliya (which in Hebrew means to go up).

As I don’t speak Hebrew well, there wasn’t that much of a question as to where we would live. Jerusalem has by far both the largest collection of Anglos (people from English speaking countries) and the greatest amount of activities for Anglos. In Jerusalem it’s easy to find lectures in English, live theater in English (although most productions are like community theater) and English speakers in stores and in the streets. Other cities like Efrat, Bet Shemesh and Raanana also have lots of Anglos, but far fewer activities for them.

Of course, I’m planning to go to an Ulpan, but I’m not real gifted language wise.  At the end of two years of French in my junior and senior year of High School, our French teacher announced that he was foregoing awarding the French prize usually given to the most deserving senior in French class, since none of us deserved it. After an additional year of French in college, I finally got to Paris where I was barely able to stammer Bonjour in French, much less say anything meaningful. As for my Hebrew speaking ability, no one would believe I took four years of Hebrew in college and actually attended classes.

But I digress. Before making this momentous decision, even though we had been to Israel many times, we decided to make a six week pilot trip to Israel. The trip did not begin auspiciously, as our flight was delayed for four hours, despite the airline’s repeated assurances that the flight was leaving on time. So trusting souls that we are, we believed them and did not eat prior to arriving at the airport. By the time we realized how late the plane was actually leaving, we were starving. As we are kosher, the pickings at the airport were few. After downing a bag of pretzels, we were still good and hungry and actually looking forward to our airline meal.

Our plane finally arrived after a six hour flight from another city. Since it arrived so late, the airline must have decided that, in the interest of improving their on time record, no interior cleanup was necessary. So the plane was not spic and span and the bathrooms smelled like urine depositories. When the food finally arrived, its taste matched the cleanliness of the bathrooms- it was probably the worst tasting dinner I’ve ever had on an airline. Breakfast the following morning matched the supper.

Extremely glad to exit the plane we made our way to the rental car office where we received a high mileage car which we had to pay using a credit car which charges foreign transaction fees. We had intended to use a card which does not charge fees, but on the way to the airport, we learned that someone had been using our card to book multiple trips to Kenya. So, of course, that card was cancelled. Luckily for us, we had taken another credit card with us.

We had rented a two bedroom, two bathroom, apartment in a neighborhood called San Simon. The apartment was fine, but we had been led to believe the apartment was high end. It was not, but it was comfortable. The heat worked well and the windows faced San Simon Park, a nice park containing the San Simon Monastery, which I’m not sure is still used. The supermarket was fairly close by and as most chain supermarkets in Israel also sell Kosher meat, we were all set.

Our aim this trip was to meet as many Anglos as possible and to discuss with them what their Aliya experience was like and to garner any suggestions they might have for making the transition easier. We decided that the place to meet other Anglos was in the synagogue on Friday night and Saturday. So we got addresses from the woman who rented us the apartment and anxiously awaited Friday night to begin our quest.

In the interim, my husband began a job search.

Friday night finally arrived (we moved in on a Sunday after spending a few days with my daughter and her family). Off we went to one of the synagogues, and lo and behold, after services, no one said anything to us.

Determined to do better, the next day we went to another synagogue. This time I surveyed the congregants and took a seat near a woman I thought looked Anglo. Of course, she left before the services were over. At the conclusion of services there was a kiddush, which is a collation with snack food. We noticed an Anglo we had met on one of our previous trips and approached him hoping he would remember us. No such luck. He had no recollection of ever meeting us, but was friendly. And that was the end of the Anglos we met there.

To be continued in the next post.

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

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