Your Story: Yonah Taurog

When did you make Aliyah?

I made Aliyah in October, 2018.

What made you decide to make Aliyah?

After I finished a year of yeshiva in Israel, I knew that the Jewish State is the place to be and I would eventually make Aliyah. What made me make Aliyah now is Basia, my now-wife was already living here and I wanted to be closer to her.

How did you decide which community to move to?

I didn’t know that many American communities, and I wanted to be close to Americans when I first moved. I knew a few people in Givat Shmuel, and Basia is there studying at Bar Ilan. 

How did you enter the Israeli job market?

I graduated from Yeshiva University with a degree in computer science. I’m taking this boot camp program to teach data science in order to get into the computer science field.

How is your Aliyah experience going so far?

So far so good, but I haven’t had to face a lot of the challenges other olim have had to face yet.

Do you have any tips for someone who is considering making Aliyah?

Everyone says this, but have low expectations. Everyday there is something else to complain about, “In America it would be like this. In America we would have that. People would act like this….” Don’t expect Israel to be like America. The biggest challenge in Israel is the healthcare system. It’s really hard to get appointments to see a doctor. The easiest way to get care is to check yourself into an urgent care clinic.

Your Story: Simcha Lopez

When did you make Aliyah?

I made Aliyah November 15, 2017.

How did you decide which community to move to?

When I first came here, I was in Yeshiva. After I looked for places close to the center because that’s the location I was most familiar with. After living there for a year and a half, I moved to Katamon. It’s a very nice part of Jerusalem, quiet and a close bus ride into town.

How did you enter the Israeli job market?

I am not working in the same thing I was in America mainly because usually the only jobs a person who hasn’t done the army yet are in restaurants and cleaning. People don’t want to hire people that will only be working for a few months. Finding a job in Israel mostly comes from friends and contacts. There are also apps and Facebook.

Do you have any plans for retirement?

I barely have plans for tomorrow, much less retirement haha.

What tips do you have for someone who is planning to make Aliyah?

You have to have your values straight. Israel is a country where everyone struggles financially, culturally, and with the language. To move to Israel you have to be strong and ready to grow as a person. When it comes to potential, Israel can bring out the best in people.

The Advantage of Facebook Groups

While a lot of people these days don’t use Facebook anymore, there is a virtual gold mine of resources for Aliyah through Facebook groups. Just a few I’ve found include:

Housing:

Israel Communities Info for Anglo Olim

House Hunting in Israel

Dati Property Forum – Where To Live In Israel?

Affordable Housing in Israel – Social Discussion For Change

Jobs:

Jobs for multilinguals in Israel – משרות לדוברי שפות זרות בישראל

Nefesh B’Nefesh – Jobs in Israel

Jobs in Jerusalem לעבוד בירושלים

Jobs In Israel For Native English-Speakers

ANGLO-ISRAEL JOB NETWORK

Zionist Jobs/Internships in Israel

Tel Aviv secret Jobs

Army:

חיילים בודדים צריכים | Lone Soldiers Needs

KeepOlim Lone Soldiers Unit (חיילים בודדים) 🇮🇱

Lone Soldier Housing

Chayal Boded – Lone Soldier – חייל בודד

Jerusalem Lone Soldiers המרכז לחיילים בודדים ירושלים

Michael Levin Lone Soldier Center Parents’ Group

Medial Professionals:

Anglo Medical Professionals in Israel

Nurses Making Aliyah

Saving Money in Israel:

Living Financially Smarter in Israel

Support an Oleh

Frugal Israel

New Olim Promotions

General Information on Israel:

Ask an Israeli Lawyer

Keep Olim in Israel Movement 🇮🇱 התנועה להשארתם של עולים בישראל

Nefesh B’Nefesh Community

Secret Israel

Secret Tel Aviv

Secret Jerusalem

Secret Jerusalem 2.0- Insiders Community Resource

Secret Jerusalem for women

Secret Haifa

Secret Tzfat

Secret Gush Etzion

How To: Pack For a Trip to Israel

Packing for Israel depends on your length of stay and what kind of activities you plan on doing when you get there. It is important to travel as light as possible, with as little luggage as possible. Below are some things that should be included in your packing list every time you come to Israel:

  • Passport- Cannot expire within 6 months of leaving the US, also it is a good idea to take a picture of your passport photo and save it in your email in case it ever gets lost/stolen.
  • Plane tickets
  • Travel Insurance- Including medical insurance. Verify that your current medical insurance includes coverage in Israel. If it doesn’t, or if you want to be extra safe I recommend buying Israeli travel insurance, such as through https://www.ctas.co.il/.
  • SIM Card/ Phone Rental- To use a SIM card, your phone has to be internationally unlocked. If it isn’t, you have the option of renting an Israeli phone. You can use https://www.talknsave.net/ for either, and have it mailed to you before your trip.
  • Debit/Credit Card- Visa and MasterCard are accepted at most places in Israel.
  • Cash converted into the New Israel Shekel- There are some places in Israel you have to pay using cash. If you can find a local currency exchange, it may be cheaper than at the airport or even within Israel.
  • Coin purse- You will be collecting lots of Shekalim and Agorot. I like to donate it all to tzedaka before I return to the airport.
  • Prescription Medications- From EpiPens to asthma inhalers to insulin, make sure you have enough of what you need with you at ALL times.
  • Over the counter medications: Benadryl, Dramamine, Ibuprofen, etc. can make the difference between a good trip and a bad one. It’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have.
  • Portable phone charger- You will be using a lot of battery using your phone for directions, taking pictures/videos, and communication. Some of the buses in Israel have charging stations which may or may not work. Best to exercise caution and make sure you have plenty of power.
  • Phone adapter- The wall outlets are European sockets, and you will need to buy an adapter for charging your phone and other small electric devices. For things that need more power (Hair dryers, straighteners) you WILL need a converter in addition to an adapter.
  • Tissues- Some bathrooms in Israel aren’t well stocked with toilet paper. There’s no telling which ones are which, so always have some pocket tissues on your person.
  • Backpack- If you can manage it, try coming with only a backpack and a small bag as your luggage. You don’t want to be schlepping a ton of luggage bags on a public bus, and it’s really inconvenient to travel with in general. A good hiking backpack for hiking/camping trips is worth its weight in gold.
  • Purse- Good for casual touring around the city. Make sure it has a long cross-shoulder strap for added security.
  • Water bottle- The water in Israel is safe to drink, but the mineral content is different. You may not like the taste, but it’s better than buying bottled water which can be expensive.
  • Changes of clothes*
  • Jacket
  • Sunscreen- The sun is very strong here, protect yourself!
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat- It get’s very hot here in the summer. A hat is a good way to insulate your head and keep your body heat under control.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Beach towel- I recommend using a Turkish beach towel to conserve space in your luggage.
  • Tennis/ hiking shoes
  • Dress shoes

*Many places in Israel are considered holy sites. Here modest dress is required.

For the ladies: Long sleeve shirt/dress past the elbows, no cleavage shown, not see through, and not tight. Skirt that reaches past the knees, again not too tight or see through.

For the men: Kippah, shirt with sleeves (can be T-shirt). Shorts are okay, but they should not be too short or tight.

Trip of a Lifetime

The first time I visited Israel, I was six years old. I don’t remember much of it, and the little I do remember is mostly from watching home videos. Growing up I went to a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school that heavily emphasized Zionism. We would have days where we learned about the history of Israel, Israeli culture, Israeli food, and Israeli current events. We would pray for the welfare of the State of Israel, the safety of IDF soldiers, and the return of then captured Gilad Shalit from Hamas. All of our Hebrew teachers were Israeli, and sometimes I would stay after class to learn more about this amazing country that eventually became almost mythical to me. A place that you hear about, and wish you could go visit, but somehow would always be out of reach.

Fast forward a few years, and I apply to go on a Birthright trip . For those of you who don’t know, Birthright Israel is an organization that sends young Jewish adults ages 18-32 on a 10-day trip to Israel FOR FREE. Seriously. Round-trip plane tickets, food, travel, attractions, and sleeping accommodations are all included. You are provided with a private tour bus, an amazing and knowledgeable tour guide, meet Israeli soldiers (who join you on the trip), and have a security guard/medic with you the entire time. They have a lot of different organizers, each with a lot of different types of trips. I chose Israel Free Spirit as my organizer and applied to go on the “modox” (modern orthodox) trip. Thankfully I was accepted, and started to prepare for what would be the most memorable trip of my life.

When I left Dallas for Israel, I thought I was already in love with Israel and the idea of making Aliyah. I thought I was prepared for this trip and while I was physically packed with everything I could possibly need, I was completely unprepared for the emotional onslaught that hit me when the plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport. I was finally here, a place that had become legendary in my mind as a child. A place that at one time I never imagined I would be able to return. And now, I was finally HOME. It’s amazing how before I went to Israel, I never noticed feeling as if something was missing in my life. Upon landing, I felt as if I was finally where I was supposed to be, and it was such a relief. I experienced all of this within the first five minutes of landing in Israel, and it is all thanks to Birthright Israel. For those who are eligible and haven’t gone yet, I cannot recommend it enough.

My trip was simply magical. The people on the trip were incredible, and we bonded so much so that by the end of the trip we felt like a family. Everyone in charge of planning and coordinating the trip did an amazing job. Our itinerary was jam-packed full of action, sight-seeing, fascinating historical lectures, lively discussions and debates, interaction with Israelis, opportunities for spiritual growth, and of course, delicious food. I created a video of my trip, which can be seen here.

For obvious reasons, this trip was a pivotal moment in my Aliyah story. It was my first time back in Israel, and I fell even more in love with the land and the people than I thought was possible. I learned a lot about myself, and had a better idea of what it’s like to live there. I am much more confident in my ability to make Aliyah. Now going to Israel is no longer an insurmountable feat. Six months after this trip, I returned to Israel to visit my brother (who had since made Aliyah himself) and to see the friends I made on Birthright. I am returning in two months to go to one of my best friend’s wedding. And I have every intention on coming back as often as possible before my Aliyah date.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about applying to and going on a Birthright trip, and let me know if you want me to make more in-depth posts about my trip!

Why Make Aliyah?

With Pesach just around the corner, I remember having an epiphany four years ago that has forever changed the course of my life. At the end of the seder, we always say “Next year in Jerusalem!” But on that night, I began to wonder why we often say this phrase without any real intent. Almost as if the chances of it happening are the same as opening the door and Eliyahu is standing there waiting to be invited inside. Is living in Israel really such a crazy idea? Before I would have answered this question with a resounding YES. It’s on the other side of the world. It’s in the Middle East. I could barely speak any Hebrew. It’s expensive to move. It’s expensive to live there. It’s a different culture. I didn’t have any family, or even any friends living there. Then of course there’s the propensity of the media to portray Israel as being in a constant state of war with terror attacks happening left and right. In short, it was a great unknown, one with a lot of risk and next to no support system in place. For these reasons I never even considered Aliyah until after my first year of college.

So what had made this night, in this year different from all other nights? A couple of months prior, my family had watched the JerusalemU documentary “Beneath the Helmet” (https://beneaththehelmet.jerusalemu.org/). After viewing it, my brother decided he wanted to join the IDF as a lone soldier or chayal boded. At first we thought he was just going through a phase, and he would decide to do something else after graduating high school. When we realized he was serious, we immediately started to panic about everything ranging from from his safety to where would he do his laundry. This prompted a lot of research online and reaching out to others who had also served in the IDF to hear about their experiences. With all of this going on, the natural progression then inevitably led to the realization that it’s not impossible nor is it crazy to move to Israel (well okay, you may have to be a little crazy).

Then my best friend from high school returned to Dallas after having spent a year in Israel studying in seminary. After catching up, she told me she had decided she wanted to make Aliyah. I couldn’t believe it, we were both coming to the same conclusion about where we wanted to live out our lives. She returned to Israel as soon as she was approved. I decided to wait until after I finished university, and as a result I was able to learn from her experience. So now I had someone living in Israel that I knew, a brother about to join the army, and familiarity with the Aliyah process. I decided it was also time for me to prepare to make Aliyah, to make the dream MY reality. The next step would be to visit Israel and see it for myself….

What's Your Aliyah Story?