Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Pazzing Gaz," Israeli Style

Shalom, chaverim! I'd originally intended this post to be about how we started Ulpan last week and how it's going so far, but today's fiasco, or "balagan" in Hebrew, was so silly that I wanted to share it with you immediately.

One thing I'd used to crow about, before coming to Israel, was that in Israel, nearly everyone uses solar hot water heaters. In fact in new buildings, all water heaters must be solar. These heaters are usually made as rooftop tanks, one per apartment. They look pretty stubby and grungy, and don't make for breathtaking views over whatever city you happen to be staring at. But they're eco-friendly, and get the job done--more or less.

It was the "less" part that got our attention when we arrived. During the winters up here in the north, it can be rainy and cold and grey for several months in a row. If there isn't enough sun to get your water as hot as you'd like it, then you have two choices. You can struggle along with tepid (to downright cool) water, or you can flip a switch and pay for electricity to heat up the water for you. This can get very expensive to run all day, so people usually set a timer so they can have hot water in the morning or evenings for bathing, and then flip it on manually if they need hot water some other time. Our heater took about twenty minutes to heat up the water, though, so we had to plan ahead.

This was not too onerous, really: you can get used to it if you are willing to live in a fairly routinized way, and are able to be patient for twenty minutes if you have to break your routine. But when we went to the amusingly named gas company "Paz Gaz" (I kid you not!) to get the gas for our new stove hooked up, they told us that for 30 NIS a month (about USD $8), we could rent a machine that would use natural gas to keep the water hot 24/7. If the solar hot water heater kept the water hot enough, fine. But if the temperature dropped below X degrees, the gas heater would kick in and get the water up to the right temperature. Once the solar-heated water got back to the correct temperature, the machine would automatically turn off. So you had the best of both worlds, really, with this system: the sun did most of the work, but natural gas was there to kick in if, and only if, necessary. We bit, and signed the papers to have the machine installed.

We signed these papers about the first week we arrived, which was just over a month ago. We were told then that the installers would call within the week to install the machine. Finally, last week, we were told they would arrive this Friday to do the job. Of course, when we were leaving Ulpan this morning (Tuesday), we got a call saying "hey, we're here at your apartment to install the machine. Where the heck are you?"

After rushing home and letting them in, the two fellows from Paz Gaz got to work. What happened next was something that I was vaguely aware of, given that I was hiding in the bedroom like a scared cat. (This is my default selection whenever workmen are in the house.) But Elul saw it all, and when he told me about it, I asked him if he would write it up so I could include it here. I just took the pictures as proof that this really happened!

Elul writes:

"The installers from the gas company needed to use their power drill to install our new on-demand hot water heater on the roof. In a combination of bad Hebrew and sign language, one of the pair asked me to plug in a long extension cord so his partner could power up the drill. The extension cord was old and a little frayed, but I figured it was one they used all the time so it would be okay. Well, when I plugged it in, sparks flew everywhere, then there was a small explosion, and the power in the apartment went dead!

"We checked the cirucuit breaker box to see which ones had flipped off, but miraculously they were all still on! This meant one thing, the main fuse, which protects the circuit breakers from a major power surge, had blown. The installer scurried up his ladder to the fuse box mounted near the ceiling in the main hallway and pulled out the fuse to our apartment. It was fried! He pried it apart and a substance like sand poured out of it along with a blackened and melted wire (the fried fuse).  
Exhibit A: A piece of frayed extension cord, abandoned in the hallway like a trollop after a one-night stand

"Undaunted, the guy swoops up from the floor a superfluous roll of wire he had with him, snips a short piece off it, strips the insulation, and inserts the bare wire in the fuse casing. He snaps the ends of the casing back on and inserts the reconstructed fuse in the neighbor's fuse slot (he had already inserted their fuse into our slot to make sure that's what was causing the problem...it was). Voila! Power back on...serious fire hazard!   

Exhibit B: Superfluous Roll of Wire Used for Unsafely "Solving" Neighbor's Blown Fuse Problem
"He then similarly rigged the offending extension cord with makeshift wires, so it would work again. And believe or not, it's now powering the drill, even as I write this."

Even more incredibly, the dear guys from Paz Gaz, who left a giant track of mud and water through the apartment, by the way, also forgot to close the hatchdoor leading from our top floor apartment hallway up to the roof. In other words, we now have an open-air skylight just above our apartment's front door. Of course, we're due for a massive rainstorm tonight and  heavy rains for the rest of the week, and when Elul called, the Paz Gaz men refused to come back tonight to close the hatch. "Tomorrow, we come tomorrow, tomorrow morning, maybe 8 or 9 o'clock," one of them promised. I'll keep you posted on how long it takes them to come back!

Let's now sing "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"...because they sure as heck will!
Still, all is not lost here at 20 Aliyah Street, with respect to home improvements. Last week, Elul and I were walking to the grocery store and I spotted a treasure trove of abandonded furniture on the sidewalk. I don't recommend picking up soft furnishings, e.g. sofas, futons, mattresses, etc. But we were in need of a second nightstand, and this little darling (not so little, actually) chest of drawers had, er, "potential." The funniest part of the process was our hauling that thing down the street, and up three flights of stairs. Funny for spectators, that is--not so much for us!

The frame. Lots of natural woodgrain showing...all the way down through the laminate to the plywood!
Oh dear. Well, at least all the drawers were all there...
Well, with Elul's rapidly improving Handyman Hebrew, he managed to get the right type of wood filler, sandpaper, paint, and new hardware. It may not win any awards on "Design Star," but in the end it cost us a total of about USD $20 in supplies and tools, and I now have an extremely functional and large nightstand. Woot!

Giant, semi-homemade nightstand. Pretty slick, huh?

Now I have plenty of room for my reading glasses, ear plugs, Dan Silva spy novels, "Teach Yourself Hebrew" books, and my strap-on Petzel. And hey, if any of you happen to be dirty-minded Yiddish speakers, a Petzel in this instance is a headlamp-on-a-headband, to be used for reading and while biking or camping in perfect nerdy innocence...not what you think it is! Ha ha ha!

Finally, I wanted to add that one of the joys of blogging is that you can justify spending hours surfing the internet, all in the name of "doing research for my blog, honey." In doing so, you can find pure evidence that other people on this earth are doing very peculiar things with their time. For example, I never would have imagined that someone would take a mildly amusing English television sketch called "Dinner for One," and re-create it using animated Lego characters. If you have nine minutes of life you don't mind sparing, and feel like wandering into an alternate universe where a German (?) man imitates a British actor imitating invisible guests while getting progressively more drunk, then this video is for you!


Have a good week, chaverim! And, as usual, if you can't see the pictures or the video I'm referring to, just go to www.movingtonahariya.blogspot.com and you should be able to see them there.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rocket Mole

Shalom, chaverim! Since arriving in Nahariya, we have made it a point to have "Reshet Gimel" playing on the radio during the day. "Reshet Gimel" is one of the radio stations of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, and its mandate is to play only music by Israelis. (You can hear it on the internet at www.iba.org.il.) Israeli music is wildly eclectic, and one of the shows on Reshet Gimel features multiple Israeli cover versions of the same song, one after another. Believe me, you ain't heard nothing until you've heard "Viva Las Vegas" sung in Hebrew, three times in a row, by three different singers!

Since I can't read Hebrew functionally (yet), I spend lots of time listening closely to Hebrew song lyrics. Hearing cover versions of songs I know is actually very helpful, because the essence of the song is translated into fairly simple language. So it was with great amusement that one morning, I heard the Beatles' song "Yesterday" in Hebrew. The first line, "yesterday..." was translated (phonetically) into Hebrew as "Rak etmol," or "Just yesterday," to make the line scan correctly. But to my uneducated ears, what it sounded like was "Rocket Mole!"

Much hilarity has ensued since that fateful day, with Elul and I collaborating to compose stupid, scatological, alternative English lyrics to our own song of "Rocket Mole." So far we have this:

Rocket Mole,
He is eating from the toilet bowl,
Will he chew or will he eat it whole?
Oh Rocket Mole, you troubled soul!

As a former teacher (ahem), I realize the educational importance of providing visual aids to an audience. So I searched and searched on Google for an image of a mole on a rocket, but astonishingly, nothing like it has yet been uploaded. (I did see plenty of pictures of basal cell carcinomas though...yuck!) Therefore, I extend my thanks to the websites http://www.howtodrawanimals.net  for instructions on mole drawing, and http://how-do-draw-funny-cartoons.com for instructions on how to draw a rocket.

Not clever enough to figure out the "fancy" way to draw the two items as one image, I just drew them both on separate pieces of paper, cut the mole out with my cuticle scissors (ouch!), and superimposed the mole on the rocket. I was going to glue it, but then I realized my glue was still wending its way across the Atlantic in our lift.  To make it even fancier, because our printer/scanner is also in our lift, I just took a photo of the picture!

Rocket Mole...The Troubled Soul. This image will stick with you for life!

As usual, if you can't see the picture, go directly to my blog's site at www.movingtonahariya.blogspot.com . And if you have suggestions for additional "Rocket Mole" verses, feel free to comment...I'd love to hear them! Shabbat shalom, everyone!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Golan Heights...Take One

Shalom, chaverim! Boy, it's been busy here lately. We spent a very interesting and entirely FREEZING Shabbat last week with other Nefesh B'Nefesh members of the Go North program. This retreat, which went from Friday morning till sundown on Saturday, was held at a conference center in "Moshav Keshet," which is in the Golan Heights and very near the Syrian border. A moshav is a kind of intentional community, that can be most closely compared to a kibbutz. I won't say anything more about defining a moshav, however, because that's all I know about it!

This particular moshav had a dairy and a conference center, though, and was in a beautiful setting. We met with about 200 other olim from North America, and it was wonderful to compare stories and trade tips with everyone. There were interesting presentations, plenty of services, and LOTS of delicious food. Sadly, though, I don't have any pictures. I didn't remember to take any until after sundown on Friday, and then it was too late! But we will definitely visit the region again. The Kinneret, aka the Sea of Galilee, is very beautiful indeed. The area is home to not only dairies and a thriving honey industry, but also is home to many wineries. We tried to visit one before the retreat started, but got there just five minutes too late. When things close down for Shabbat in the Golan Heights, they really mean it!

The Sea of Galilee. I didn't take this picture, but it looks as if it was taken from the same road we were on. (Copyright www.finephotos.com)

Coming back from the retreat on Saturday night, we took a small detour and went through Sfat (also spelled  Safed, Tzfat, Tsfat, Zfat, Safad, Safes, Safet, etc.). Sfat is one of the four holy cities of Israel and is also considered to be the center of learning for Jewish mysticism and Kaballah. It has a thriving artistic scene and somewhat Bohemian/New Age vibe, as well as numerous groups of Ultra Orthodox Jews.

These latter Jews did make me turn my head, as the men have certain dress requirements that can include large fur hats called "streimels,", black breeches, and sometimes white or black stockings. Even more startling was to see one of these men after Shabbat, walking down the street while listening to his ipod! We stopped for a post-Shabbat libation at the charmingly named "Messi Bar," and marvelled at the juxtaposition of the ancient architecture, the people on the street, and the bar crowd--who was busy drinking, smoking, listening to "The Eye of the Tiger" on the radio and watching an Israeli football match on television. What can I say...Israel rocks!

Finally, after that freezing night in Keshet, I'd finally had enough of trying to get through these winter nights wearing my short-sleeved cotton nightshirt from Boca. Yesterday we went searching for an affordable something that was much warmer. We found it. And, well, um, let's just say my new sleepwear is indeed warmer and affordable!

"Big Pharma Enraged as Israeli Fashion House Enters Birth Control Market"

Now that we can always be assured of getting a good night's sleep (Elul certainly won't be bothering me in this getup, ever again), we'll be well prepared for Ulpan, which starts tomorrow. Yikes! It goes from 8:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., five days a week, for five months. Since we don't have an alarm clock, we've begun using Elul's Israeli cellphone for one. Because we programmed it to have all the commands and messages written in English instead of Hebrew, we were startled to hear the "speaking alarm clock" speaking to us in a decidedly snotty English accent!

Wish us luck tomorrow, and for the next five months, please! And as usual, if these pictures aren't showing up in your email feed, please go to www.movingtonahariya.blogspot.com to see them. Shalom!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's the Little Things That Make a Difference

Shalom, chaverim! Elul and I are still freezing our tokhes' off here in Nahariya, waiting for our lift to arrive with all our quilts. Most of the apartment repairs have been made, but getting the wobbly toilet bowl secured to the floor has been more problematic and so we have dubbed it the "Rocky Bal-bowla." We are hoping this last try, which Elul made today, will finally do the trick.

We are gradually paying less and less "newbie tax" by learning where the same items can be bought more cheaply at different shops. The best price for Elul's preferred "spicy Mexican" potato chips, for example, can be found at a kind of indoor-outdoor market near the train station; whereas Israeli peanut butter is cheapest at the grocery store down the road, and the best prices for nuts and candy are in a little store two blocks away. As we are both unable to digest gluten, we've also been fortunate enough to find a wonderful shop that features gluten-free items, with a selection that is even better than at Whole Paycheck--er, Whole Foods. They even have the unusual ingredients needed for gluten-free baking, like sorghum flour, xanthan gum, and tapioca flour, so once my cookbooks arrive I can start baking some of our favorite sweets again.Yippee!

However, it has gradually dawned on us that we are just too impatient to wait for our lift to come. We have thus succumbed to our inability to delay gratification, and have purchased a few more items, even though we know duplicates will arrive with the lift. But these items are a little different than our usual Wal-Mart and Family Dollar purchases we made back in Florida. For example, check out this fancy dish scrubber!

Zebra print dish scrubbers--you know you want one!
Or how about these clothespins?

These pins make my delicates flying in the breeze even more attractive!
I used to keep my umbrella in the closet, but no more!

Actually, this is supposed to hold a bottle of wine, but at the time of the photo we had none. The situation has now been remedied, and the figurine is much happier embracing a bottle of Merlot.

And who knew there was an alternative to ice cube trays? I've only ever seen the old metal ones my grandmother had, and the plastic ones I grew up with. But those clever Israelis, they came up with ice cube bags!

As a bubble-wrap-popping fanatic, Elul LOVES these frosty globules of joy!

As we were standing in the grocery store, gawping at the box of "Ice Cube Bags," trying to figure out how they worked, I couldn't help think of that old "Saturday Night Live" sketch with Steve Martin and Bill Murray. So without further ado, I give you, courtesy of YouTube, "What The Hell Is That?"

Including the off-syncing of voice and image, this video sums up most of my experience of Israel thus far! As usual, if the photos or the video link isn't showing up on your screen, go directly to the blog's site at www.movingtonahariya.blogspot.com .

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We Are Gold Card Holders!

Shalom, chaverim! As usual, it's been a busy week, filled with continual to-ing and fro-ing to shops and government offices. This week, in addition to Elul's triumphant fixing of the leaky washing machine (!), and dozens of other small repairs, we also got our health cards from one of the "kupat cholim," or Israeli health funds.

The night before we went to register with our fund, we attended a Nefesh B'Nefesh event about health care in Israel. It was a very pleasant evening, where we met a number of olim (immigrants) and heard a presentation from a Canadian doctor who'd been working as a health fund physician for more than twenty years. He gave us lots of tips and a comprehensive overview of the changes and trends in Israeli medicine, not only in practice standards but in terms of the government's philosophy about it. If you are interested in reading an overview of the subject, an excellent introduction to it can be found at Nefesh B'Nefesh's website: www.nbn.org.il .

In Israel, every citizen is automatically entitled to health care services for life, regardless of age or pre-existing conditions. When you make Aliyah, your first six months of basic health care dues are free. After that, you are charged a small fee of around $20 USD per month per person. If you are working, your employer pays the charge for you automatically. If you are indigent, the government pays it for you until you can pay for it yourself. But everyone gets health care, no matter what.

Prescription drugs are extremely cheap, since Israel is home to Teva, the largest generic drug manufacturer in the world. Naturally, in order to operate, Teva has a deal with the government to keep its prices low for Israeli citizens and Israeli health care providers. While there are doctors who are in private practice in Israel, the national thinking on the subject of health care is that it is not to be run as a profit-making venture.

When you sign up with a health fund, they give you a plastic card with a magnetic stripe on the back, similar to a credit card. Your medical ID number is embedded in this card. Whenever you go to any sort of health care facility, all they do is swipe your card and your files pop up on a screen. Doctors can communicate with other doctors about you by using your ID number, and also find out which of their pharmacies has your prescription in stock so you don't waste time running around. They have also just started using the card with a kind of "take a number" software. When you go to a walk-in clinic, you swipe your card and take a number. When your number is called, the person receiving you already has your name and information in front of them. Neato!

We opted for the souped-up version of insurance, which includes not only the same group of services I mentioned earlier, but also long-term care insurance and access to complementary modalities (acupuncture, chiropractic, etc.), as well as the option to obtain a second opinion from another doctor within the fund. For the two of us, it came out to the whopping total of about $80 USD per month.

Since we got the "fancy" insurance, they didn't issue us plain-old, vanilla cards, but gold cards instead. Not having to worry anymore about going bankrupt, in case of a serious illness or accident, has provided peace of mind that is priceless. Getting this gold card is the middle aged equivalent of finding a golden ticket in a Willy Wonka chocolate bar!

Finally, I wanted to share with you a funny clip I found on YouTube the other day. Years ago, there was a very funny English sketch comedy television program called "Harry Enfield & Chums." One of the actors, the hysterical Paul Whitehouse, did a Michael Caine impersonation that he called "Michael Paine, the Nosy Neighbor." I, too, have become such a "net curtain twitcher," watching my neighbors across the street. I've watched the feral cats, the dog walkers (only some are responsible and pick up the pooch poop), the birds, and the repairmen. We have also watched the mysterious woman who sometimes roams the street in the early morning, calls someone on her cellphone, then waits for a car to arrive. She gets in the car, talks with the person briefly, then leaves with a white paper bag in her hand. Is she a druggie? An informant? A Mossad operative? Or someone who needs fresh baked-goods delivered on demand? Oh, the imagination runs wild!

Anyway, here's the clip. You may have to listen to it a few times if your ear is not attuned to Michael Caine-ish Cockney. And, as usual, if you don't see the clip at all, please go directly to my blog's site at www.movingtonahariya.blogspot.com . Enjoy!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Settling In

Shalom ve shavua tov, chaverim!

All's well here at 20 Aliyah Street, in sunny-with-a-chance-of-showers Nahariya. It's hard to believe Elul and I have been here for almost two weeks, since we seem to have lived through a year's worth of tedious home repair chores already. I never knew that one of the first bits of Hebrew vocabulary we'd need would be "the threads on the washing machine's water line connection are stripped," "the DSL signal is so weak that the television images are pixillating and our internet connection is intermittent," and "the toilet is not securely bolted to the floor, so going to the bathroom is like taking a ride on the Wild Mouse."

Moving anywhere is always a pain, and this move has been no exception. "Moving pain" has manifested itself primarily in the form of not having what we needed RIGHT away to simply function in daily life. I spent my precious luggage allowance in hauling boring things like diplomas and legal papers. Next were precious family photographs and other irreplaceable objects of sentimental value. Finally, I stuffed in some clothes which turned out to be comically insufficient for the weather conditions here. I have five pairs of running shorts that I can't use, but NO long underwear or winter coat, which I really need!

But you can't wash dishes with a photo album. Or use a selection of sports bras as a tablecloth. Maybe you can in Tel Aviv, of course, but this is Nahariya,"the City of Subdued Excitement."* So every day, we've been wandering around town to forage for what we need, even so far as taking the "3 Alef" bus out to a shopping mall. We've visited numerous plumbing supply shops, home goods shops, spice markets, grocery stores, pharmacies, department stores, and just about every other store you can think of. We've discovered the downside of not having a car, which was getting completely drenched in a downpour on the way back from the grocery store. I'm so grateful my backpack, "Big Student," was designed by people from Seattle! And even though Elul chided me for getting "Big Student" initially, he has grudgingly admitted that it has already come in very handy.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I have already started thinking about how to organize a kind of group buying club, for certain U.S. items that are anywhere from twice to four times the price here. Vitamins are not cheap, for example, nor is hair color. Today, Elul bought an electric toothbrush in town because the new one he bought for the trip suddenly malfunctioned and died. (So much for the stocking-up strategy!) When he explained to the cashier that "in America, these toothbrushes are half the price," she smartly responded "yes, that's because we have to pay to ship these toothbrushes from America to Israel!" Fair point!

So we stumble along, gamely taunting Murphy's Law to bring us to our knees. This experience is a good test of my meditation training in the art of detachment and equanimity. I have so much more to tell you, but I will have to leave it for later, as I am happily engrossed in doing laundry--the first time in nearly two weeks! I did one load when we first got here, but we didn't yet have a dryer. The washing line only held the equivalent of one load, and that load took three days to dry because of the rainy weather. By the time I tried to do the second load, we discovered a problem with the water line connection to the machine. Trying to fix it ourselves, we were unsuccessful as we didn't have the right tools. And then it was Shabbat, so of course everything was closed for another few days. But Yoram Shurany, our real estate agent, came to the rescue by sending us Benny, our handyman-cum-guardian angel. So this evening we will be able to retire in style, with fresh sheets and clean p.j.'s!

A blustery day in Nahariya, best viewed from our living room!

* Copyright of the phrase "The City of Subdued Excitement" actually belongs to Bellingham, Washington, where my parents live!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

We Made it to Israel!

Shana tova, chaverim!

I am so happy to tell you that we have made it, safe and sound, to Eretz Yisrael. It was quite an undertaking, and it feels strange, yet wonderful, to have that painful yearning in my heart GONE. Although we have only been here five days, and have been repeatedly reminded by other olim that we are still in the starry-eyed "honeymoon" phase of integrating into Israeli society, Elul and I feel completely at home. We have been warmly welcomed by everyone--even by immigration officials, which is a first in my book!

However, the physical process of getting to Israel was really something. We first had to get rid of our car, which Elul managed to do by selling it on eBay. While the transaction went smoothly as a whole, it was a little complicated because the buyer was located in Michigan. The buyer wanted the car transported, so we had a few days of fiddling around with phone calls between the buyer and the transport company. Eventually, though, the company arrived and took away our beautiful, and now obsolete, Pontiac Grand Prix cream puff.

It's a good thing this driver isn't drunk...yet!

Later, it was a matter of having the auctioneers come and take all our furniture away. Fortunately, they agreed to come just a day before we left, and our lovely neighbor Della lent us an airbed and two folding chairs for overnight, so we weren't completely stuck. But we definitely felt the PITA ("pain in the a**") factor living out of suitcases, even if it was just for twenty-four hours!

Potato chips and inventory list: lunch of the day at Bistro Aliyah.

Finally, the "lift people" arrived. These were the men from the shipping company who packed up all our personal effects to ship them to us in Israel. They did a terrific job, and turned our piles of crap into unrecognizable bundles of bubble wrap and corrugated cardboard.

I think I know what's leaned against the wall, but I don't know WHAT'S piled on the floor.

On the morning of our departure, the last thing to do was to clean the apartment and then get rid of the cleaning materials as well. Cleaning an apartment from top to bottom, just two hours before starting on a transatlantic journey, was not the most mellow way to start the day, but we got it done. We also managed not to kill each other, which was quite a marital accomplishment!

We flew from Fort Lauderdale to Philadelphia, and connected there to Tel Aviv. Getting to Philly was difficult, but we were extremely fortunate. We got to the airport in Fort Lauderdale several hours early, and shortly after we checked in, we were paged. (Uh oh! Who died?) Happily, we were just moved to an earlier flight because of "weather issues."

Weather issues, indeed. This meant first circling over the Philadelphia airport for over an hour, while we waited for a runway, during quite a bit of rain and turbulence. (I have never had to hold onto an airsick bag in my life, except for this flight.) Then being stuck on the runway, waiting for a gate. Then being stuck at the gate, waiting for the wind to die down enough so the jetway could get connected to the plane. But as I said, we were very fortunate. Had we not gotten onto an earlier flight, we would have probably missed our connection to Israel. But we didn't, and we got to Israel just fine. Happy ending!

Happier still, we ended up breezing through the immigration formalities. Al, a lovely volunteer from AACI (an organization that helps Americans and Canadians in Israel), met us at the gate with our names on a card. He clearly knew his way around, and shuttled us through some back alleys of Ben Gurion Airport, and whisked us up to the airport's branch office of the Israeli government's Ministry of Absorption. They have a room there with a couple of officials, tea and coffee, a phone to use to call relatives or contacts, and comfortable seating. It was near the end of the day, and I think our official wanted to get her job done and get us out of there fast, so she could get out of there too. So it worked well for everyone.

We were issued a bunch of documents, a free SIM card with 200 minutes on it to put into any Israeli cellphone we may buy (and indeed bought, today), and a tote bag. The most important document was something called a "teudat oleh," which means "immigrant certificate," and serves as one part of your official identification as an oleh. Each family gets one certificate, with everyone's pictures and information in it, so Elul and I were issued one "teudat" collectively.

Our "teudat olim" and government-issuede tote bag, proudly displayed on our landlord's impossibly white leather sofa.
Al then led the way so we could collect our luggage, go through customs, and helped us get our free, one-way taxi ride to Nahariya. After a two-hour ride through heavy Tel Aviv traffic and northwards up the country, we arrived at our new home at 20 Aliyah Street, Apartment 9. Our real estate agent, Yoram, was there to meet us with a big smile and a handful of keys. He was also sweet enough to have a lovely bouquet of roses on the dining room table to welcome us. What a mensch!

Yoram: Best Real Estate Agent EVER!
And this is where I shall leave you for now, dear friends. I wish you all a very happy new year (Western calendar). And even though this video was made for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year), I present it to you in the very same spirit of happiness, hope and joy. Shana tova!

You haven't seen anything until you've seen this! Shalom!

P.S. If you can't see the pictures or the video clip I'm talking about, go directly to my blog website at www.movingtonahariya.blogspot.com