An incredible thought came across my mind. This is our 2nd year here. And with a year behind me, I have so much more insight on Israel than I did before we moved here. Thankfully I had family and friends to help guide us through all our questions. I thought I would take my knowledge and share it with you, to enable you to have a smooth transition to your new lives in Israel…so that a smile can remain on your faces throughout the journey.
Interestingly enough, on a daily basis, I receive messages with questions relating to life in Israel. This past year alone, 5 families discussed moving to Israel with me- before they had told their own families. It was incredible to see them all make their way over this summer!
Before I get into any of the questions, please bear in mind- Israel is not like the country you will be moving from. That’s probably why you are moving. Please remember to keep an open mind. Laugh and smile when you might want to cry. Or cry, and then laugh. Remember things get better, even if things seem difficult at first. Before we moved, a man in the neighborhood quoted a famous phrase with an added twist: “Kol Hotchalot Kashot..” “All beginnings are hard….But if it isn’t hard, it means it hasn’t started yet.”
While I have traveled all around Israel, my main focus is Jerusalem- as that is where I live. Many want to know why we chose Jerusalem, city life, and not more of a community outside of Jerusalem. The main reason was because it’s where the family lives. It’s where all our vacations were centered. It is where I have always felt most at home. We moved into a wonderful neighborhood within Jerusalem that feels like a community. Many new friends have been made, for us as a family, and for our children, in and out of school.
- School: Teachers, Supplies and Books, After-school activities
- Transportation: Bus and Taxi Apps
- Supermarket: Shopping/Delivery/Online
Teachers: Every school is run differently just as they are in the countries you may be coming from. Keep an open mind when talking to the teachers. Being the parent that always dealt with speaking to the teachers, I had to take a back seat when she told me she’d prefer speaking with my husband- who at that time spoke Hebrew more fluently than I did. They are also running classrooms upwards of 28 children, some at 32-35, alone. But even from my short experience, they knew everything there is to know about my children. I was pleasantly surprised at Back-To-School Night when they gave us their cell phone numbers welcoming the phone calls. They want to see all the students succeed, and especially want to help and guide the new Olim.
School Supplies and Books: Buy your supplies in Israel. The notebooks, binders, folders, and paper are all different from what we were used to. So are the supply cases, known as a “kalmar“. My kids prefer the Israeli supplies anyway, compared to ones from the Staples store they had been used to. Definitely learn the word “shpitzim” as you’ll hear it a lot- the lead for the pencils- and make sure you distinguish between the 0.5 and 0.7. In terms of books, most schools do not supply the books- but rather a book list. You will take this list with you to any school book store and carry home a cartload of books. Many schools allow you to buy used books and not pay top shekel on brand new ones. A very popular store off of Rechov Yaffo is called Moshe Chai. Expect to stand in line for awhile. On the positive side, you’ll meet many new friends while you wait!
After-school activities: These are known as “Chugim” and are so popular. This took me awhile to wrap my mind around. How do the kids have time for homework, dinner, chill-out time, showers and bed..and still find time to go out for these Chugim? Well, the first year I tried it and backed out. It was too much to juggle. We are attempting it for this year. I do think it is wonderful for their social lives to develop stronger friendships and it gives them more opportunities to do the things they enjoy doing. Many schools offer these clubs, otherwise they are run privately and through word of mouth.
Read my blogpost here to give you the background story first:
Through the blog post, I have received countless messages about managing allergies in a country that really doesn’t know how to manage allergies. The schools are not nut-free or seed-free. My daughter carries her Epi-Pens with her since there is no nurse at school. We are very careful and vigilant, as we need to be. I am going to tell you that it is possible to navigate through Israeli society with allergies. Please don’t hesitate to message me and I will gladly message/call you back to alleviate your concerns.
Transportation: If you are coming for a visit, your best bet is probably to rent a car. Or you may prefer to take taxis. I suggest having the Gett Taxi App on your phone. Be sure to ask for the meter to run so as not to get over charged. Once you are more familiar with the streets, you may decide on a set price ahead of time, if the driver allows. If you are moving here or here for a longer visit, the bus or train options may suit you better. Download the Moovit App. This App will guide you through the cities, the towns, from North to South, East to West and everywhere in between.
Be sure to read about the top 10 types of Bus Driver personalities I’ve encountered:
Supermarkets: Since we live in an apartment as most do in Israel, carrying groceries from street level to your door is quite a task. I chose the option to do my own food shopping, and send it to my door with a delivery service the supermarket offers. It is the best 24 shekels I can spend. Being that I don’t have a car, I’d need to take a taxi anyway that would probably cost more than 24 shekel. With the taxi option, I’d still be doing the shlepping! So thank you to all the delivery guys! Many of my friends order on line and have it delivered too. It’s a personal decision and one that you’ll figure out while you’re here.
There is one thing I can’t live without. I did have to give up on a touch of style to own this, but I really couldn’t do without my “Bubby Cart”. Instead of carrying the bags and having them make red lines on my arms, I gave in and purchased an embarrassing cart on wheels. Yes, it is as embarrassing as it sounds. But it makes a world of difference.
These four topics are just a start. Feel free to contact me here for any other questions or concerns you may have that I can answer for you.