Best selection of tried-and-tested tips for your Aliyah or relocation to Israel.
Hebrew: טיפים לעולים חדשים
Many olim go through a similar emotional journey. They are anxious about many things; the language, employment, housing, integration and many more. As you pack and prepare your move to Israel you’ll be wondering if there are ways to reduce the stress levels. From the advice on seasoned olim we’ve put together a selection of tips that touch on ten important topics.
Know the 4 stages of cultural adjustment and be prepared for them
- Honeymoon stage, in which your new country is idealized.
- Rejection stage, which emerges once you encounter the inevitable problems with work, language, education and housing.
- Regression stage, during which life in your home country is idealized.
- Cultural adjustment stage, when you become comfortable and happy in your new environment and gain a mature appreciation of cultural differences.
Remember that culture shock can affect some family members more than others.
If you have relocated for work, the non-working partner may suffer more with symptoms of culture shock. Psychologists advise validating your partner’s feelings and support them during their difficult time.
Your attitude is key
Look at your Aliyah and your entire relocation experience as a positive opportunity for personal growth and development rather than as a difficult situation with huge hurdles that have to be overcome. When you do that, the huge hurdles transform and become smaller, more manageable steps and life becomes a much easier.
Don’t be offensive
When moving to Israel, it’s important to keep an open mind. The idea is to learn about Israeli culture and not impose your beliefs, values and cultural habits on the locals. If you do attempt imposing your beliefs, chances are it will boomerang and you will become bitter. When you publicly start making comparisons to your country of origin, be careful not to be degrading even though you may be right. The person you are speaking with may or may not share your opinion and you need to be careful not to offend. Being negative a lot of the time could leave your friends and colleagues resentful of you.
Compromising and making concessions
Ask yourself these questions; if I am unable to find a product I am familiar with, in Israel, or a level of service that I am used to, will it have a dramatic or severe impact on my new life? Can I live without? Am I prepared to compromise?
The opposite of compromise is conflict. The ability to deal with conflict is one of the most important skills you will need to create success in your career and personal life.
Remember that you may not be able to avoid using services and products that are different to that which you are used to.
Best school experience
Finding a good school for your young children is on the top of your list. In the early stages it is important for them not to feel alienated or left out especially as their Hebrew skills may be limited. The criteria you used for choosing a good school back home, may need to be adjusted slightly. Consider that the definition of religious education in Israel, may differ completely to that which you were used to. Perhaps an international school is a better option for your child? Research available educational options, discuss them with your kids and let them feel they have a say in their future.
After school activities
After school activities (Heb: chugim), are not included in the school fees but they are a great way for your children to integrate and bond with their new peer group. Budget around 150 – 200 shekels per child/per month/per activity. There are lots of free alternatives and things you can do with your kids on weekends or during the holidays. Take some time to research the options.
Your first job interview
Your first job interview in Israel fills you with dread. Your will be anxious and will worry about what to wear, how to behave, what to say and how to say it. The interviewer will ask you all the usual questions; your background, work experience, your job and salary expectations and then, be prepared for a whole lot more! There is a good chance that you will be asked a range of seemingly unrelated questions that will catch you off guard. You need to be completely prepared to answer any questions on any subject. Here are a few examples:
- Do you have a favorite quote? What is it?
- What is your favorite animal?
- Who is your role model and why?
- Who do you respect? Why?
- Would you be willing to take a salary cut?
- Define cooperation, quality, service, commitment. dedication, integrity etc.
- And, one of our favorites; do you put salt on your food before you taste it?
The list is seemingly endless. Jacob share has put together a list of more than 400 questions you could be asked in your job interview. Study them and prepare yourself.
Impact on the children
Relocation has a huge impact on your children and your own progress is challenged and influenced by their integration. Every member of the family has to adjust to a new lifestyle. Try to be understanding and sympathetic to their crisis, insecurities and dilemmas. Move before the start of the academic year and use the long summer holiday period to give your children as much special one-on-one time as possible and do with them the things they love to do. Showing them how much you care will build their confidence and prepare them for a new set challenges and hurdles at the beginning of the school year.
Keeping them informed
Preparing for your new life is challenging enough for an adult, but for children the challenge is on an entirely different level. Here are a few key issues that can help them prepare for and get excited for their new life.
Involve them on gathering basic information about Israel, its people and their lifestyle. Make this process interesting and fun for them. Make them feel like it is an adventure. Imagine their anxieties they are experiencing at the thought of being uprooted.
It’s not uncommon for children to have food related issues while growing up. Suddenly when faced with moving to Israel, food becomes a challenge of its own. Gather information about local eating habits; which foods are popular, are your favorite brands easily obtainable? What about allergies and special dietary requirements? For instance, sesame and nuts are very common ingredients in Israel but on the other hand, there is a huge selection of non-dairy, lactose free items. Plenty of gluten-free and vegan options are also available.
Introduce your children to ways in which they can communicate with their friends and family back home.
- Make use of free video and chat software out there like ooVoo and Camfrong, Messenger, WhatsApp or FaceTime. Getting a call, a message, a photo or video will make their day.
- If there is a life-cycle event or a special family function, consider live-streaming the event thereby making it possible for family and friends back home to share the special day.
- Use Google Maps/Earth to show your family and friends back home exactly where you live and even an up-close photo of your street and building. This helps connect them to understand exactly what your living conditions are like.
- Use social networks to keep in touch.
- Let’s not forget about old-fashioned letter writing either. How joyful it is to receive a letter from a loved one – children will treasure a post-card or letter knowing that their grandparents or a loved one took time to carefully think about and share their thoughts and feelings.
Before the big move
You’ve made the decision to relocate to Israel but can’t quite decide if you should sell or rent the home you’re living in now…aside from the financial aspect, it’s a maintenance issue too.
Have a professional inspection done before you rent or sell. It may cost a few hundred dollars, but it will determine any current or potential future maintenance issues. Once you know what you are in for, you can make the decision to rent or sell.
Small or large? Apartment size
You’ve sorted your belonging and based on your current lifestyle you’ve filled your container to the brim with everything you want and could possibly need. You’ve moved into your first rental apartment and then your container arrives; oh boy! What a surprise; the lounge is too small, the bedrooms are cramped and there are fewer kitchen cupboards. Your huge washing machine blocks the doorway and you wonder where you are going to put all that flatware and those dishes. The average Israeli apartment is likely to be smaller than you are used to. If only you had known the average room dimensions when your were still in the planning stages of your relocation. Well, here they are;
Threats, acts of terrorism and war are enough to stress anyone out and Israel regularly has those. Sara Jacobovici, an Anglo therapist in Raanana, suggests that when confronted with this type of stress make changes to your routine while maintaining it as much as possible. She says : “Routine is a crucial structure in which we can continue to function. Common safety strategies prevail but activities, although modified, need to happen.”
An economical way to get around
The Israel public transport infrastructure deserves a thumbs up! Public transport has come down in price and the Transport Tariff Reform allows you to combine your bus rides, train rides and light rail rides at a reduced rate when you use the RavKav multi-transport smartcard. Load your Rav Kav ticket with different routes an fare combinations. You can load your personal Rav Kav online via the Rav Kav website, at selected ATMs and bus and train stations.
Buying a car with Aliyah benefits
Selling a car you bought with your Aliyah benefits
It is now time to sell the car you bought with your Aliyah benefits. Four years have passed and you are no longer obliged to pay back the reduction received at the time of purchase. However, when you sell the vehicle you have to have it released from the Israel Customs Authority – Meches.
To do this you have to present the car’s license and your teudat zehut (identity document) to your local Meches office. They will discharge the vehicle and you are then able to sell it. You can also fax them this information together with a cover letter.
Your emotional well-being
Typically, around 9 months after you have made Aliyah, you could experience a terrible sense of loss for the loved ones you left behind, for all the material comforts you had, job security etc. It’s important to grieve and work through these feelings of desperation. Take it one day at a time. Consult with a psychologist or life coach if necessary, they will give you a plan to help you to deal with your anxieties.