The following opinion piece is written by a former American who today is a resident of Yerushalayim.
Thousands of Jews from across the world have chosen Eretz Yisroel to call their home. For many, the sojourn to the Holy land is a culmination of endless sweat and tears. It is not only the fulfillment of their own dreams but the dreams of their parents and ancestors who may or may not have been privileged to make the journey with them.
Yet, ascending the path of aliya and residing in this wonderful country can be fraught with difficulties. Although enveloped in the warmth of our Jewish brethren, like in any new country, it takes time to adapt. As foreigners, we are used to a certain mentality, and, upon moving to Israel, we are introduced to a new culture; a very different once. While living in Eretz Yisrael is a dream, the culture shock can be a rude awakening. Acclimating and adapting to the whims and ways of this country can be frustrating. Settling into the right communities and finding the best schools for your children is critical for a successful integration. It’s so much more inviting to know that there are people who understand your needs that can help you and your family make the best choices. You can’t do it alone.
Dealing with government, taxes, and bureaucracy can be very challenging. There are so many laws and details that you just don’t know about. Signing up for Bituach Leumi can have you relentlessly running from office to office. Socialized medicine, while a fraction of the price of overseas insurance policies, can make finding a competent, caring doctor much more difficult and here are often waiting periods to see certain specialists. You need to know how to play the game in order to get the right appointments with the right practitioners. You can’t do it alone.
There are many programs, benefits and governmental packages that assist in setting you up comfortably but unless you are aware of them, you may not even know you are eligible. It is so important to have good guidance. Someone who knows the system can walk you through with ease. You can’t do it alone.
Thankfully, Rabbonim and are some wonderful organizations work tirelessly to make the process more pleasant. They offer their knowledge in medical advocacy, insurance policies and other important issues. Indeed, they are a true blessing for English speakers and their assistance is invaluable. Yet, even they are limited in the scope of what they can achieve because they, like everyone, you need the right connections in order to facilitate the proper aid. Having someone to advocate for you in the government and fight for your needs is critical. It might be to receive the right working or building permits or even to arrange impromptu appointments with those who can direct you; having people who will understand you and guide you is of upmost importance. It will make all the difference.
Ask the many who have been assisted by Yahadut Hatorah. Rabbi Uri Maklev was the address for Jerusalem residents who needed help with municipality issues. He was always available and ready to help. His successful career as a member of the Knesset has not impeded his passion for helping others and his office is ready to assist at all times. Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, the Minister of Health, is famed for revamping the medical system in Israel. As a born and bred American, he understands the needs of the Anglo community and his open-door policy has served countless people for all sorts of dilemmas. Rabbi Yitzchok Pindrus, the former Mayor of Betar and assistant Mayor of Yerushalayim, an English speaker himself, has been guiding people for years. His knowledge of government programs and the judicial system along with his friendly, approachable nature have made him a prime contact for the Anglo communities throughout Israel. Each and every one of the Yahadut Hatorah team members concerns themselves with the needs of Klall Yisroel and avail themselves to all, regardless of backgrounds or affiliations. Their desire to make a kiddush Hashem and help alleviate the stress of those who wish to make Eretz Yisroel their home has provided so much for so many. Reach out to them. Speak to them. Introduce yourself.
You’ll be touched by their amicable warmth and amazed at their desire to help. It will feel as if they are here for you and just for you. And they are!
By Dov Fuchs
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.
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