In my first post I noted the circumstances of my life that brought me to the point at which I have currently arrived. I noted that my need for familial closeness has been the strong pull for me to making aliyah. I want to be close to my daughter, my grandchild(ren), my sister, nieces, nephews, mechutanim, and friends in Israel. And yes, this is true.
But it in no way negates my love for Israel, my belief in HaShem and in his gift to the Jews of the land of Israel and in his commandment to us to return to the land as soon as we are able, to live and to die there. If one takes a moment to read the quote by Yocheved Golani I have posted in the left hand sidebar of my blog, then one will understand that my aliyah is motivated also by an emotional, religious, and ideological need, desire, and belief.
In addition to the questions of my motivation, I am also inundated with questions relating to the more practical aspects of my aliyah. How am I managing to do this? Is Nefesh B'Nefesh assisting me? Do I have a job? Do I have a place to live? Where am I planning to live?
I do have answers for all of these questions. Not all the answers are ones that would satisfy those who are inclined to make all decisions based on the practical concerns.
Before I begin there are two main things a person (or family) should have/do before making aliyah:
- have savings or a stable and secure income -- enough to live on for the entire first year of aliyah.
- have a plan for how you are going to manage your aliyah and how you are going to live once you are in Israel.
These are two prerequisites for making aliyah. This does NOT mean you have to be RICH. But you do need to have those savings or income and you do need a plan. If you plan to ask for financial assistance from NBN -- they will want you to have those two things in place. If they do not think you will have a successful aliyah, then they will not be inclined to provide much assistance.
So, the question is, how am I managing?
- I have an income source that is stable and secure and enough to get by on for the first year of my aliyah
- I have savings to fall back on if, chas v'sholom, I need to.
- I have also been extremely frugal and am socking as much money aside as I possibly can. I buy only what I absolutely need and no more. I want to have as much money as possible to endure all the major expenses that making aliyah entails: shipping all my worldly possessions to Israel, security deposit on my new home, attorney fees for dealing with contracts (lease), purchase of a car, and purchase of some larger appliances.
- I have also applied for financial assistance for my aliyah -- not only from Nefesh B'Nefesh but also from two other organizations that provide financial assistance to Jews making aliyah. But before I name those two organizations, a word about NBN and financial assistance. There is a misconception that NBN gives out a LOT of money to individuals, couples, and families making aliyah. Once upon a time, NBN did give out large amounts of money. Today, that is no longer the case. To be sure, they DO offer substantial grants -- but in low to mid four figures. Do not base your ability to make aliyah totally upon receiving a grant from NBN.
I do not (yet) have a job in Israel. Nefesh B'Nefesh strongly encourages potential olim to make a pilot trip to Israel and to do as much research and networking as they can BEFORE they go to Israel and try as best they can to secure a job before they even go to Israel. It sounds like a very difficult thing to do and I thank G-d that I do not NEED to do this. However, if I did not have the stable income which I do have I WOULD need to do this and it would likely stress me out quite a bit. I cannot offer much advice in this area, but I can say this: while I was in Israel on my pilot trip, I sent out my CV cold to about 40 different non profit organizations in Israel (my work is in non-profit fundraising support). I received in response many positive emails, some wanting to interview me immediately, others asking me to be in touch with them when I am there in August. So, this has given me a positive feeling for my ability to find work. I feel confident that I will find a job when I am ready to do so.
As for where I will live. I made a pilot trip and the focus of that trip was to be to find a place to live. I began my pilot trip with the intention of making aliyah to the North. That would have allowed me to take advantage of the NBN Go North program which offers many additional benefits to olim. Those benefits would have included: a slightly larger personal grant, a $500 rebate on the cost of my pilot trip, and a $4000 subsidy toward the purchase of a car. However, upon actually being there and checking out various communities in the North, I realized that living in the North would not work. The communities are too remote and isolated, the transpo infrastructure is not great, and even with a car would take too long to travel. I had spent 15 years commuting to NYC from NJ and Rockland County, NY -- and I will NEVER do that kind of commute again. I also realized that I really want to be in an Anglo dominant community. For me, at my age, that seemed best. Thus it was that I changed my plans and began checking out the communities in the Modiin area. I wound up renting a house in Hashmonaim/Ramat Modiin. Finding that house was an adventure in itself, one that I will discuss in another post.
So, there you have it. My answers to some of the questions I am asked. Dear reader, if you have ANY questions about aliyah, about the process of making aliyah, about dealing with NBN, or the Socnut (Jewish Agency) -- please do ask. You can use the comments section of this post/blog or email me directly. I will do my best to answer any and all questions that come my way.