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What’s the first thing you’ll buy in Israel? (Real olim tell all!)


Get out your pocketbook… it’s aliyah time!  What’s the first thing you’ll buy once you’re finally here? 

Not sure?  Let other olim tell you!

A lot of sites tell you the Big Ideas, but only in AliyahLand will you find the Nitty Gritty:  the stuff you’ll need when you’re fresh off the plane.

We’re busy busy over here getting ready for Pesach.  So I figured I’d let the Nefesh b’Nefesh Facebook group write today’s post for me.  Here’s what I asked them:

Not Pesach-related, for a blog post: what was the first thing you bought after you arrived in Israel? (besides food/drinks)

A spectacular number of people jumped in to answer.  I’ve sorted their answers into categories to help you get a better idea of what you’ll have to do with that little envelope of Sal Klitah money that they hand you at the airport.

(I couldn’t believe that was true, despite repeated reassurances, until I actually held it in my hands.)

What are you likely to need to buy right away?  (If somebody answered in several categories, I listed their reply under the FIRST item they mentioned.)

How to fix your internet problems in Israel (sort of).


The Internet here has a way of stopping shortly after midnight. It should be a lesson of some kind, something like, "it's just too late to be sitting on the computer." That’s what happened last night, as if on cue. It’s only happened a few times, but it’s always at or around 12:17.

Any sensible person might think, “time for bed!” But with my drive to fix things, I usually take it as my cue to put in a call to Bezeq, our internet company.

Maybe you think that makes a little sense? 

Ha.  What you don’t know is that in our nearly year and a half of being their clients, Bezeq has literally NEVER solved a problem for us over the phone.

But they are usually unfailingly polite and speak passable English. It's almost a pleasure to call. So I do.

Last night when I called, just after midnight, the system politely informed me that there was a longer than usual wait time and that my place in line was... 31.

Some places you call, they play radio music for you. Not Bezeq.

REVIEW: Hebrew through story with author Leah Broderson

easy Hebrew readers by Leah Broderson

Looking for a not-so-painful way to improve your Hebrew?

I always am.  For an olah, my reading is okay.  For an Israeli… it’s lousy.  I struggle through my daughter’s third-grade readings for school – with great difficulty.  Ouch.  It’s very humbling.

Everybody recommends reading newspapers, but it’s not the easiest way.  Every Shabbos for months, I’ve stumbled through the free Friday paper, trying to bring my reading up to a passable level.  

It seems like I have to pull out the dictionary for every other word, and many articles are full of useless jargon and abbreviations.

Now, I have a better way. 

I’ve found a Hebrew reading “coach” who is tough without being impossibly demanding:  Leah Broderson and her two books of Hebrew short stories.  Each of these little stories is less than a page long, and each illuminates some aspect of life in Israel: a place you might want to visit, a historic figure, travelling around Israel and the types of people you meet here.

 easy Hebrew readers by Leah Brodersoneasy Hebrew readers by Leah Broderson

Her books are called להיות ישראלי / lihyot Yisraeli, “To be Israeli” and אני ישראלי / ani Yisraeli, “I am Israeli.”

Essentially, they’re primers, the simple story books we give to kids learning to read – except that they’re written with grownups in mind, covering topics and anecdotes suitable for an adult reader.

This… is how you should welcome olim


How will you be greeted when you finally arrive here in Israel?  Or, if you’re already here, how were you greeted?

Was it a depressing, bewildering, lonely aliyah story (I’ve heard my share of those) or an upbeat, thrilled, amazing aliyah story?

I really hope your story is as beautiful as that of friends of ours from Toronto (let’s call them Chana and Shlomo), who just arrived last week.   What made the difference for them? 

When you read her email, I think you’ll figure it out right away.


Happy Aliyah to me

Happy birthday to me .

Happy Aliyah on my birthday !

.........Happy Aliyah to me ‎!!!..........

Things that are cool in Israel #7: Ads around the Jewish holidays


Spotted this trio of IKEA ads while shlepping into Haifa the other day. 

I was so charmed that I found myself wishing immediately that they were more of them. 

When was the last time you wished to be inundated with MORE advertising messages?  In Israel, it happens.

Here’s the first one (translation beneath):


Hebrew text:  סירים מעוצבים דיינו / sirim me’utzvim dayeinu
Translation:  “Designer pots, Dayeinu!”  (from the Haggadah song, Dayeinu)

This one is #2 (Like my kids, I don’t know which one of these I love more…)

Essential phrases you must know in Israel: Chafetz Chashud / חֵפֶץ חָשׁוּד


Stop!  Before you put that backpack down for a second… don’t.

Israelis are, shall we say, just a little bit touchy about unattended luggage, purses, backpacks, of any kind. 

Leave it alone for more than a few seconds and it’s automatically reclassified.  It’s no longer your stuff… it becomes a חֵפֶץ חָשׁוּד / chafetz chashud = suspicious object.  And that is something everyone here takes very, very seriously.

Here is the entire Kotel / Western Wall complex shut down because of a chafetz chashud:


Can you spot it in this picture?


Some moron put down a backpack and walked away… and the entire place had to be evacuated.

When you do leave something behind by accident, Israelis are very vigilant.  It starts so quietly you might not notice, but the reaction is almost immediate:  “Whose bag is this?”

If it’s your bag, you’d better claim it, and fast, because soon enough, everybody will be chiming in trying to figure out which dummy has left a potentially suspicious object lying around.

Ultimately, the chain of inquiry can lead to your bag being exploded for you