How to Succeed as an Anglo in Israel
Making aliyah is often the dream of a lifetime, but like many things in life, the accomplishment of the dream is truly just the beginning of the adventure. Packing up, getting through the bureaucratic hoops, and settling into your new home are all exciting stages with their share of expectations and challenges, but then there is life after landing. Even as a new Olah or Oleh, life must go on. There will be shopping, bills, school, work, and a number of aspects of daily life to be managed. Let’s take a look at some tips to help Anglo Olim not only survive but thrive in their new home.
Do Your Homework
Even if aliyah has been your dream since childhood, even if everyone on your block is already in Israel, and even if your best friend works for Nefesh B'Nefesh, it’s still important to do your best to explore the options and be prepared before you make the move. This doesn’t mean you have to wait until you have all the answers, but having some idea of what to expect once you arrive is the first step in making a good landing. For a start to your research, check out some of our ideas for the Top 7 Things You Need to Know When Making Aliyah.
Build Your Network
One of the best things new Olim can do from the time they arrive, and often earlier, is start to build a network of support for the road ahead. Family and friends that came before can be a good source of information, but much like the homework mentioned above, networking works best when it’s suited to your specific situation. Find the people that live where you plan to live, work where you plan, or want, to work. Look for parents with children in schools, and better yet the same grades, where your children are likely to attend. Trying to find someone for each of those areas will be a challenge, but the more the merrier. Knowing you have someone to turn to can help with a lot of early issues when you first arrive.
Get the Lay of the Land
While we’ve been talking about things that can often be done from abroad or anywhere you have access to the internet, sooner or later it’s important to get out and explore, even during a lockdown. Check out the local parks, shopping areas, and streets of interest. If arriving in the summer, find the schools your children will be attending and make some practice runs to familiarize yourself and your child with the commute. When you’re able, check out other parts of the city by bus or by car. Keep adventures short until you get your bearings and venture out further. Apps like MoovIt and Gett will help you find a ride wherever you are.
Know the Local Hotspots
Learning the lay of the land doesn’t always mean outdoor adventures or new neighborhoods, just exploring the local grocery store can be an adventure in itself, and one worth taking when you have some free time. Get to know the aisles that have your favorite products, and which of the brands you know and trust are available to you now. Explore local brands and products you may not have seen before. If you need help translating, take a picture to examine the label and instructions with a friend and see what might work for you. This can also go for the local pharmacy, hardware, or homeware store. Know what’s available and where to find it to streamline shopping trips in the future.
And while we are on the subject of exploring, checking out what apps you can add to your phone for additional support, might be something worth investigating as well. The start-up nation is filled with technological answers for a lot of life’s daily tasks and common activities. We’ve already mentioned a couple of travel apps, but definitely pick up a good translation tool to help with everything from asking for directions to reading signs, and those unfamiliar labels mentioned above. Next, you’ll want to get apps for your bank and health plan. Whether there is an option for English or not, with a little help and patience, you can quickly learn the few words you need to make appointments or check balances, and you’ll be building your Hebrew vocabulary at the same time.
Setting up for Success
Speaking of building new networks, exploring new neighborhoods, and the apps that will help you do it, don’t forget to get your home and cell phone network set up and running to keep up with everything technology has to offer. TCS Telecom can help you plan all your communication needs from the internet, to phone, to TV, whatever you need to get connected and stay in touch. Created by Anglos for Anglos, with English speaking customer service, TCS can set you up in a flash to help you navigate the ins and outs of your new home.
Building your skills
With all the tips and suggestions listed here the best tools to work on will be the character traits that help you succeed not only as a new Oleh, but in any situation or challenge that will come your way. While some of the following will seem like skills especially necessary for life in Israel, they are actually helpful to anyone finding themselves in a new situation and a new environment.
If there is anything you can work on in Israel, it is patience. Aliyah is a good practice for the idea of hurry up and wait. Fill out forms and send in documents just to wait on replies and more follow up. Get to the office just in time aruchat eser, the mid-morning break common to schools and bureaucratic institutions. And of course, you’ll need patience when Israelis try out their English on you, just as you’re trying to work on your Hebrew. The word for patience in Hebrew is savlanut. Learn it and use it often, most importantly with yourself.
Flexibility and having an Open Mind
Being open to doing things in a new way, and being interested in learning new things will take Olim far in their new home. When making aliyah, it may feel like you’re following your neighbors to another suburb similar to the one you left behind, but you’re really not. Israel is in the Middle East, with everything that entails. New cultures, different views, and often different values. The way the schools, government, and many workplaces operate will be very different than the place you left. Rather than saying it should be done in the way that you know, be open to how things are done here, and see if you might learn a thing or two. Maybe you’ll take the time to enjoy a mid-morning break yourself.
Take Your Time
After all these tips and ideas, take your time to do all the things we’ve described, and also take breaks while you’re doing them. As we mentioned above, have patience for your adjustment process, and be open to the things you can learn from your new experiences, new neighbors, and new friends. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or anyplace else you might call home. Take the time you need to build your home here as well.