Aliyah Stories & Experiences
Single, I arrived in Israel in 1988. I went straight to the absorption center in Raanana with a group of other singles for 6 months. It was always my intention to move north to Haifa. I loved the mountains, the sea, the forests and the way of life. Towards the end of my ulpan, on weekends, I would go up to Haifa, scour the local papers in search of accommodation. I knew that living in a house in Israel was the ultimate but at the same time I didn’t know anything about the suburbs in Haifa. I saw a lot of apartments, none of which really appealed to me, so when I heard about the availability a small cottage, I jumped at the opportunity. The house was in the Neve Yosef neighborhood, nestled between the Hadar and Yizreela / Neve Shaanan. I quickly signed the lease and moved in. I wasn’t fazed by the mattress on the floor, the canary yellow kitchen that had no cupboards, the bathroom painted in bottle green enamel, or the partly broken furniture that came as part of the deal – I had a house. I was a Zionist and I was living my dream. In 1989 I got married and settled into real life. I managed to get a job for a large construction company earning 600 shekels a month. This seemed fine to me, even though I was paying almost half my salary to rent and utilities.
My wife was attending ulpan at the Abba Houshy absorption centre in Kiryat Eliezer. As part of a program to absorb the huge wave of immigrants at that time, families in Haifa were urged to adopt a new immigrant family.
We were given the name of our family and were then invited to meet them at a special ceremony at the Sportan Country Club near the southern entrance of Haifa. We were introduced to Yossi and Betty. Originally from Argentina, they had already been in Israel for many years, immigrating with their families as teenagers. Betty was an English teacher but Yossi on the other hand spoke hardly any English so we chose to communicate in Hebrew. We needed to learn the language. Better still, they knew the ropes.
Betty and Yossi helped us with everything: reading bills and rental contracts, welcoming us in their home, introducing us to people and allowing us to be part of their family. When the time came for us to buy an apartment of our own and send our children to school, Betty and Yossi guaranteed our mortgage and helped us get our kids into a better school. We were not going to let them down.
Sadly, after a long illness, Betty passed away a few years ago. Yossi and the children though, still remain part of our lives. We were delighted to attend their children’s weddings and will be equally delighted when the first grandchild arrives at the end of this year. We miss Betty very much, her jlust for life, her laughter and her caring way. Had it not been for their interest in us, we might not have made it through those first critical few years.
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