Overcoming Glitches As a New Immigrant to Israel

Daniel Goldschmidt continues to blog about his experiences as a new immigrant to Israel. Today the focus is on unexpected challenges as a new citizen.

At some point in your first few months as a new immigrant in Israel reality sets in and you realize that, although you are still convinced that your decision was the correct one, you still must overcome some hurdles that you hadn’t counted on. Of course, it depends on you as an individual and your support group how numerous these are and how you cope with them. As a 76 year old that came to Israel without family or Israeli friends I possibly have had more than my share but, this has been diminished significantly by my fortunate choice of renting from a wonderful couple who have gone out of their way to help me and treat me as family.

The Following are some of the problems I have confronted and which hopefully will provide an insight for you of not only the difficulty but the best manner to overcome them.

Surprisingly enough for a country that has a water shortage Israel also seems to have an over abundance of mosquitoes. Even though there are no known cases of malaria their bite can be very annoying to say the least. However, one can purchase an electronic mosquito exterminator that plugs into a wall socket and burns repellent tablets that really protects you.

The medical service of this country is not only reasonable economically but is considered one of the leaders of quality medical care world wide. However, it is still no fun to be ill and I unfortunately have experienced pneumonia and a sore leg during the last several weeks. The most important recommendation I have is to be your own personal advocate by pursuing and insisting on relief from your difficulties.

Cues seem to be a accepted manner of doing business here and the numbers are announced in Hebrew which can be a problem if you haven’t mastered Hebrew yet. However if one looks closely there is usually a monitor that provides what number has been served last. Many smaller community clinics do not have complete laboratory facilities and one must travel to another location to be served, and then return to your medical practitioner.

However, there are two helpful systems in place. One being a very efficient electronic system with your complete medical record on closed circuit and in most cases you do not need to make an additional appointment to meet with your doctor and receive the results. One should expect your medical problem to be responded to conservatively at first and more aggressively in additional appointments. Prescriptions are quite inexpensive as compared to U.S. Prices and the drugs available in Israel are the finest in the world.

Public transportation called auto-buses is excellent at least in metropolitan areas but can vary greatly as far as the number of stops and routes. Therefore one either needs to consult with someone who is familiar with the routes or get a schedule which is available from your land line provider and includes maps. Transfers are available and necessary at times, and monthly cards are available which provide substantial savings depending on the frequency of use of course. Whether paying for individual rides or purchasing a card be sure and ask for the pensioner plan if you qualify. Another option is called a sherut which is a van that is privately owned, slightly more expensive, and is numbered according to auto-bus numbers, and has similar routes.

Even though Israel and the U.S. have a reciprocal agreement on subsidy payments such as medicare, and social security do not count on the accuracy or efficiency of the system. For some unknown reason I had real difficulty in getting the U.S. Embassy to correctly list my Israeli bank and account number so that I could get automatic deposits. I can only assume that inefficiency is a worldwide problem. All transactions should be checked very carefully and don’t make any assumptions when it comes to accuracy,

Even though you can usually find a clerk where your shopping that speaks English do not assume that they truly understand what you are asking for. Many times depending on the size and type of store I have had to overcome some difficulties, in touring the store, using sign language, or even enlisting the help of other customers who speak English or a combination of these. Eventually though I accomplish my purpose. Of course in buying some items such as clothing since the metric system is different one has to either try it on or calculate the difference.

Taxi’s are abundant at least in metropolitan areas but they are the same worldwide in having those drivers that will take advantage of someone that seems not to be familiar with the system or vicinity. Unless they have a company name sign on top I would not recommend you using their service. Also under all circumstances ask them to turn on the meter (lehafeel monay (Hebrew)) and ask for a receipt (kabalah). Even then try to do everything not to indicate that you are not familiar with the community. Fortunately though due to the high standard of Jewish ethics there are only a few that are dishonest. Another suggestion is to give a destination that includes a intersection of two streets rather than a specific street address.

Many organizations that provide service or that you belong too send you
E-Mail messages in Hebrew and I have found Google’s translation program to be very helpful. Also one can install thru Google an English/ Hebrew dictionary that is excellent.

Try not too change banks or addresses any more than absolutely necessary because it may mean lots of new forms to fill out, at the best, if not mass confusion and your address particularly as a new immigrant must be current.

In no way should this list of glitches be construed to indicate that I am not completely pleased with my decisions to immigrate to Israel. The glitches have been much fewer than I expected and easier to overcome. The important thing is that I am more impressed than ever with the ethical strength of the Israeli people over all, the country’s purpose and that I can have a meaningful life here.

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