The experts include Josie Arbel, Director of Klita Services at the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI); Neil Gillman, aliya counselor from UJIA-Israel (serving olim from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Scandanavia and South Africa); and Shira Barzily-Wolfe of the Merkaz Meida for Young Adults (a joint project of Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, the World Zionist Organization's Hagshama Department, and the Jewish Agency, in cooperation with the AACI and UJIA).
Send us your questions.
For aliya resources click here
For Vols I to IX click here.
For Vols X to XIX click here.
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Q:I am 21 years old and thinking of moving to Israel. Do I have to serve in the army? If yes, starting when? For how long?
A: An oleh is usually called to begin serving a year after he makes aliya (unless you get a deferment for university study). A single oleh who made aliya between the ages of 20-21, with a profile above 65, serves 2 years; between ages 22-23 he serves 6 months, age 24-25 3 months. After you finish your regular service, you get called in for reserve duty (the frequency + length of which may depend on the unit you served in). Please note that a change is being made from July 1st 2006 so that single men that made aliya between the ages of 24-25 will be required to serve six months, just as 22-23 year olds are.
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Q: I was born in Israel, and moved to the U.S. with my parents when I was 3. I returned to Israel in 1999, and made aliya as a katin chozer (returning minor). I now am thinking about a mortgage and purchasing a home. Do I have any rights that could help?
A: For 7 years from your date of aliya you are eligible for a reduction in the purchase tax when buying a home, to 0.5%, and for 10 years from your date of aliya you are eligible for mortgage breaks as well (provided that you have not previously owned a property in Israel); consult with a mortgage bank as to the amounts in your specific case.
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Q:I am currently a student at Indiana University, after college I hope to make aliya, and after army service I would like to attend an Israeli law school. What is the Israeli equivalent to LSAT's and how do I prepare for them/ take them? What else should I do to prepare for law school in Israel? Thanks.
A: Law school in Israel is an undergraduate degree, and not a graduate degree like in North America. You do not need LSAT scores to attend law school though in some cases your SAT or LSAT scores will be considered an acceptable substitute for the Israeli psychometric test. The psychometric is more or less comparable to the SAT test. There are preparatory courses you can take here. It is important to point out that since you already have a BA, you may not be elgible for free tuition to get another BA. This is something you need to verify with the Student Authority. You may be elgible for financial assistance for your studies upon completion of your army service. It is possible to get a masters in Law in Israel, and in fact the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has an excellent law program with a very good reputation. Usually masters students have finished an undergraduate law degree.
The following universities offer law degrees: Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University, and
Haifa University; as do the following academic colleges:
The College of Management
Academic Studies Division
7 Yitzhak Rabin St., P.O. Box 9017
Rishon Lezion 75910, Israel
Web site: http://www.colman.ac.il
Tel: 972-3-9634011, Fax: 972-3-9634210
Netanya Academic College
16 Kibbutz Galuyot St.
Kiryat Yitzhak Rabin, Netanya 42365, Israel
Web site: http://www.netanya.ac.il
Tel: 972-9-8607777, Fax: 972-9-8844439
The Interdisciplinary Center
Herzliya, P.O.Box 167
Herzliya 46150, Israel
Web site: http://www.idc.ac.il
Tel: 972-9-9527272, Fax: 972-9-9563616
Sha'arei Mishpat College of Legal Studies
Aliyat Hanoar 1, P.O. Box 261
Hod Hasharon 45101, Israel
Tel: 972-9-7405799, Fax: 972-9-7404782
Ramat Gan School of Law
87 Pinchas St., Ramat Gan 52275, Israel
Tel: 972-3-5745206, Fax: 972-3-5742974
You might want to look at the following article about becoming a lawyer in Israel. It was posted a few years ago, but the info is still helpful.
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Q: I would really like to make aliya, but I had a Reform conversion. Are Reform conversions accepted for aliya?
A: For conversions which are performed overseas, Israel does not differentiate between the different streams of Judaism. If the Rabbis that conducted your conversion are recognized by their movement, then the conversion is considered valid, and you would be eligible, in theory, for aliya. To check if there are no extenuating factors, contact an aliya shaliach near you. (You will need to do this anyway to open a file. To find an Aliya Center near you click here)
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Q: If I am currently in school in the US, can I make aliya if I can only stay in Israel for 6 months? I will need to come back to the US for a year but after that would return to Israel. Are you expected to stay in Israel for a certain amount of time after officially making aliya?
A: Although there is no requirement on the part of the Israeli authorities that you remain in Israel for a specific period of time, by making aliya and then leaving for a year, you'd be missing out on certain rights which would continue to "tick." The question to ask therefore is why you would want to make aliya initially, and not when you return after the year - would it not make sense to wait until you're ready to make the move permanently? That way you would be able to take fuller advantage of the benefits offered to new olim.
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Q: I am married to a Jewish man and recently converted. Can I make aliya to Israel?
A: According to the law of return, the spouse of a Jew, even if they are a non-Jew, is able to make aliya. Did you already clear everything for yourself via the aliya shaliach? For example, if you are a recent convert, you may be expected to remain in the Jewish community abroad a year before making aliya. It is imperative that you speak to a shaliach. To find the one nearest you check out the Jewish Agency for Israel's Immigration and Absorption Department or email the Global Center for Israel. You can call toll free:
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Q: I am an officer in the US Naval Reserve currently serving as part of the ground forces in Iraq. I am seriously considering moving to Israel. I did have the opportunity to meet with an Aliya career counselor when she visited Los Angeles last year. I have been to Israel a few timesâ€¦once to study and a couple of other times as your typical tourist. I am also taking the ULPAN OR Hebrew course while I'm serving in Iraqâ€¦I speak with my teacher in Israel twice a week. Now that I am seriously considering Aliya (but still haven't made up my mind), I think it's important to take the pilot trip to figure out the best place for me to live and also employment opportunities. The military will fly me to Israel for two weeks during my tour here if I choose it as my destination for R & R. Are the pilot trips organized as far as meeting advisors, places to stay, neighborhoods to visit?
A: The organization Tehilla specializes in organizing pilot tours to particular specifications. They can be reached at email@example.com or call 972-2-620-9015 x215. Ask to speak to Eileen or Ronda. Tehilla pilot trips are geared to the Orthodox, so if you'd prefer, AACI (the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel), can also develop a trip/make the desired connections for you. Even if you do not arrange a trip through them, it is a good idea to meet with them while you are here. Contact an AACI counselor at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-2-561-7151 (it is recommended to set up an appointment in advance).
Q: Hi, I made aliya in 1992 but had to move back to the states in 1994 for family reasons. I am now thinking about moving back to Israel in 2006 or 2007 with my daughter who is Israeli born. Am I still entitled to financial help for rent or buying an apartment? My daughter is almost 12 years old. Does she have any financial rights? Her dad, by the way, lives in Tel Aviv. Also, are Netanya or Ra'anana still places with a large percentage of English-speaking residents? Thanks.
A: You won't have rights for rental assistance but will almost certainly (depending on visits to Israel since 1994) have rights for mortgage assistance provided that you have not previously owned property in Israel. (Your daughter does not have separate rights). While Netanya and Ra'anana maintain their strong Anglo populations, since 1994 other areas have also become magnets for Olim from English-speaking countries. It may be worthwhile checking out Beit Shemesh and Modi'in, for example. If you are planning on moving to any of these places, the AACI (the Association for Americans and Canadians in Israel) has offices that can serve you there: phone 972-9-833-0950.
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Q: I would like to know if I have any rights if returning to Israel as a resident who left in 1965.
A: The quick answer is "You can bring two lifts, customs-free, within 9 months
of making aliya," but there are other factors which will influence the complete answer:
How old were you when you left? Have you been to Israel since? How often and for how long? Were you born in Israel, or did you make aliya and then leave? Have you married a non-Israeli since leaving (who may be elgible for oleh rights)? It is best to speak to a shaliach to clarify these matters.
Q: I made aliya on July 3, 2001 at the age of 63 years. My husband is a toshav hozer after 40 years living outside the State of Israel. The only benefit I have received from the State of Israel is the reduced tax on the vehicle I purchased here. What mortgage benefits I am entitled to when purchasing an apartment?
A: If you do not own a property then you should be able to apply for a rental subsidy through one of the mortgage banks as they are within five years of their aliya - a shame that it has not been done up until now however as they will only be eligible for three months retroactively.
Information about Mortgage Assistance is available on the website of the Housing Ministry, but for an official answer it is best to approach one of the Mortgage banks who would be able to advise on both the available Government assistance and private mortgages.
I also recommend contacting Yanina Musnikow, the AACI counselor in Netanya, at (09) 833 0950. She has lots of expertise with this! For AACI's website click here.
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Q: I lived in israel one year, then married a Canadian and moved to Canada. Now after 31 years want to go back. What am I entitled to? I'm divorced.
A: The answer depends in part on whether you were a citizen during the year you lived here. If not, then you may be elgible to make aliya as a new immigrant with all the benefits that holds. If you already took out citizenship in the past, some of your rights may still be extended due to the period of time overseas (Grirat Zekaut). In either case, you need to speak to a shaliah.
The shlicha in Toronto is Dina Gidron,
Lipa Green Buiding,
4600 Bathurst St., Suite 210
Toronto Ontario M2R 3V3
Tel: (416) 633-4766
Fax: (416) 638-8824
Q: I'm retired. In the US my income is about $36,000 per year.Is this enough to live on in Israel?
A: Given that many Israelis manage on less than such an income, it is possible. If the income is Social Security, it is not taxed in Israel.
I recommend you formulate specific tax questions and send them to email@example.com for further information.
Q: What is Israeli money equal to in US money?
A: $1 = approximately NIS 4.5.
Q: I was born a Jew but have been an atheist most of my life. Can I still live in Israel?
A: Yes. The law of return defines a Jew as someone born to a Jewish mother or who converted to Judaism and who has not converted to another religion. The 1970 amendment broadens the definition to include a person with a Jewish parent or Jewish grandparent and stress that a person who converted to another religion out of choice is not included.
Q: As an oleh, would I be eligible to use Israeli medical facilities?
A: Yes, olim are immediately entitled to be covered by Israeli medical insurance.
If you are considering aliya and have never been to Israel, or have not been here for a long time, the aliya experts recommend taking a pilot trip first.
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