Lizrael Update… and then some.

Life resumed today, like a slap in the face. Actually, that’s harsh; it wasn’t a slap in the face, but more like a friendly pat on the cheek. I have it so good here: Solid, likable job. Affordable, yet comfy, apartment. Married to an Australian… Oh, I’m not supposed to focus on the Australia bit before I’m even over jet lag, right?

It’s just that, lately, I’ve been wondering what I could be doing ‘out there’. Because Australia isn’t a place where I grew up, it was totally new and it got me thinking about how big the world is and how short life is. How much I could be doing and how I’m supposed to prioritize.

Both of us came back to work saying how much we enjoyed Australia, and all of a sudden people on both ends made yerida jokes, only, they may not have been jokes; I couldn’t really tell. Why can’t you love a place besides Israel? Or as much as Israel? Or maybe even more?

At a barbecue yesterday, someone asked how Australia was. I said it was amazing. He said: “But not as amazing as Israel right? Sure, it’s pretty, but it’s not as great Israel?” And I said, “Actually, Israel is a pretty fucked-up place. It can be great, but it needs work.” I wasn’t going to push it after he gave me a bit of a disgusted look.

I guess I’m a bit frustrated and a little claustrophobic. It was comfortable to flirt with a different setting for a month. Harmless flirting, right? Australia was so big and vast and utopian. What’s wrong with falling in love with that?

Zionism from above.

In case you ever wondered, here is what happens if you fly El Al from abroad to Israel, departing on Yom HaZicaron and landing on Yom HaAtzmaut:


They give you a Yizkor sticker at check in…

 


They give you a mini flag before landing…

Don't spare me a strike…

I’ve been feeling naughty lately; I’ve missed two weeks worth of classes for being in Australia, or so I thought until right now, when I found out that Bar Ilan is on strike with the rest of the Israeli universities, so I’m not missing school this week.

But I’m still naughty, so I will punish myself by looking at pretty pictures of my school and pretending it’s a real university with a gorgeous library like Melbourne has.

bar ilan tower bar ilan campus bar ilan building glass

Gorgeous Melbourne library I wish I had everyday access to:

RE: aliyah.

Every time I do this, the emails get longer and more detailed. Here’s the latest aliyah tips email I’ve written. If you happen to have questions, feel free to email me. If you happen to have more/better info, feel free to comment with it.

————————

…I’m more than happy to spill out as much info as I’ve got… I’m really happy to help out people looking to make aliyah because I’m a big believer in knowing the reality before you get here so you don’t get the wrong ideas.

But for now: where to start?? There is only so much the shaliach can tell you; not because he’s lying, but because he’s Israeli (most probably) and never made aliyah before.

I chose to live in Jerusalem for the soft landing, exactly as you’re thinking; tons of young, single (and married) Anglos to socialize and quite a few programs to start, like living at the Merkaz Hamagshimim, Ulpan Etzion, going to Pardes, stuff like that. I wanted to live at Ulpan Etzion (it’s a nice atmosphere) but backed out and lived in an apartment and then went to the ulpan for classes. I don’t know if that’s something you’ve considered, but I did it for the socializing, not for the Hebrew. It definitely helps. I also crashed for a month (and met my now-husband) at Merkaz Hamagshimim, and it is one of the cheapest living situations you can probably get, although 250 is what I paid to live in an apartment with two other girls in Katamon (very young, Anglo area in Jerusalem). So I think you should estimate 250 a month for living (plus bills that shouldn’t exceed 100 a month but you can do MUCH better than that), unless you can find another girl to share a room with you… which is pretty rare.

I lived in an absorption center for a summer when I did an internship in Jerusalem; it’s not really for single Anglos who have made aliyah (I lived with two other girls that summer and one of them I knew before hand; there were some MADA volunteers staying there as well but all for summer). It’s all in East Talpiot ( Beit Canada) which is far from everything you’d want to be near and there is only one bus that goes there every half an hour. It’s small and if you’re low-maintence than it’s everything you need. But I wouldn’t suggest it for social life and easy access to jobs or ulpans.

As far as neighborhoods where everyone lives in Jerusalem:
German Colony, which includes Katamon, Emek Refaim, Baka, Rechavia, Talpiot – the ‘Upper West Side’ of Israel.
Nachlaot – Jewish-hippie, laid back, religiously spiritual, baal tshuva.
French Hill – people live here because they go to Hebrew University. I’m pretty sure about that.
The German Colony and Nachlaot are all close. So much about Jerusalem is walkable. You definitely don’t need a car.

For finding apartments, join the yahoo group: Flathunting… If you email flathunting@yahoogroups.com they will start sending you a daily digest of apartments up for rent and sublet and people specify price, single, kosher, shomer shabbat, etc. It’s great. Don’t book anything till you get here though because you never know who or what you’ll end up with. Start looking a few weeks before you come, and email back and forth to get an idea what people are like. That’s the yahoo group for Jerusalem; for Tel Aviv it’s a different email address but I can’t remember – maybe TAflathunting?. There’s also Homeless, more Israeli-oriented. In general, living with Israelis tends to mean cheaper living; Anglos are anglos… Also, when you get here, for cheap stuff to get you started on furniture, appliances, etc: yahoo group/site called janglo@yahoogroups.com; the site is Janglo. That’s for getting stuff in Jerusalem; Taanglo is for Tel Aviv.

I barely knew anyone when I made aliyah… Maybe I could count them on one hand and we weren’t great friends. But once you get into it, meet one or two people, you’ll meet everyone, and then it can get claustrophobic (but what Jewish community isn’t??)

You will have no problem meeting people… The young, modernly religious Anglo scene is hard to miss in Jerusalem. Tel Aviv I know less about, but there is def a vibrant, young, Anglo (not as religious, but there are religious) scene. I can put you in touch with people from Tel Aviv to ask about that…

As far as meeting Israelis, that gets tricky wherever you are unless you’re on a kibbutz or anywhere but Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. You’ll meet them depending on what your job is, what bars you hang out in, etc.

By the way, have you applied to Nefesh b’Nefesh for the financial grant? They’re good for at least a couple thousand dollars. It paid my rent when I started out. Check out their website ; it also has tons of info, like taxes, getting your liscence, etc. They also do social events when you get here. Also AACI is an American/Canadian org to help with olim. Also – luckily enough – my husband is an aliyah counseler for UJIA, which is AACI for Brits and Aussies, but he’s more than happy to answer questions… He made aliyah too and also had Israeli parents that screwed up his sal klita, so he has the details and experience on that.

Looking for a job: Israemploy.

Other stuff I can say:

- Come with a skill… You’ll have a much easier time finding and getting a job. Israeli employers value experience, not education as much.
- Come with the expectation that the first 6 months are about acclimating, living low-cost, and finding your place. There will be ups and downs, and everyone else goes through it.
- I didn’t got to Israel for the year either, and I’m probably better off for it. Less expectations. On that topic, try not to fantasize too much… Once you get here and settle in, you realize the reality of living in Israel. It’s amazing, but it’s not easy.

That’s my intro to making aliyah… There’s tons more I can say, but that should be a start. Let me know if you have any other questions, concerns, whatever. Good luck!

Tough love and more.

Someone asked me what I love about Israel. I was speechless.

It’s not that I don’t love anything about Israel. It’s not that I don’t love Israel at all.

I think what it is… When people ask me where in Israel I live, I say Jerusalem. And then I groan as their faces glow up and they dreamily respond how amazing that is and how much they’d love to live in Jerusalem. My groaning is masked by a stoic face (at least I hope) and I respond – mostly in my own head – yeah, well, sometimes it’s better to stay away from what you love.

Jerusalem becomes unholy once you actually live in it. And not just because it becomes ‘everyday’ which is a lot of what unholy means. It’s also because you actually get to know it; the dirt in the streets in the form of miniskirts, the two-legged animals that roam around. It’s a holy place if you don’t make it the place where you eat, sleep and shit.

Maybe that’s why diaspora is actually subconsciously appealing at times. Israel is becoming what Jerusalem has become for me. As the ideology melts from the forefront of my reasoning, I’m left cold and slightly discomforted with the land before me. This is Israel: the dirt, the smiles; the warmth, the doubt. The further away from it I am, the more appealing it becomes. Another Jewish paradox. Another love-hate relationship.

As funny as this sounds, it’s true for me: As hard as it is for me to hate Israel, is as hard as it is sometimes to love it.