Ask the aliya experts

Vol XLIII: Will our Reform conversion be recognized by Israeli authorities?

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September 19, 2006 09:34
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The experts include Josie Arbel, Director of Klita Services at the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI); and Shira Barzily-Wolfe of the Aliyah Information Unit (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.
  • For Vols XX to XXIX click here.
  • For Vols XXX to XXXIX click here. * * * Vol XLIII Q: I have decided to apply to a religious Orthodox kibbutz in Israel to do a 10 month Hebrew ulpan (beginners and advanced) before then going on to open a conversion file the following year in that same kibbutz. Is it possible for me to do this ulpan and then stay in Israel until I begin the conversion file? A: A student visa (which is what you should apply for) is valid for a year, so if you could begin the conversion process up to 2 months after completing the ulpan, it should be doable (you will need to apply for a visa for the second year, while you are studying for your conversion. You will need to verify if this 2nd visa will be a student or tourist visa. Q: Also, once I have converted, can I continue to live in Israel whilst applying for aliya, or would I have to leave the country first? A: This depends on how long the conversion process takes you and on what kind of visas you have during it. Visas cannot be renewed indefinitely, so you may need to exit. Q: What advice can you give me, as I am still unsure of the whole aliya process regarding converts. Many thanks. A: The best thing is to consult the kibbutz at which you will be conducting the conversion, and an aliya shaliach (which you can do via the Global Center for Israel GCI@jafi.org.il ) Q: My wife and I are in the process of conversion through a Reform Temple. Since we wish to make aliya, will our conversion be recognized by Israeli authorities? A: If your Rabbi is recognized by the Reform Movement, then yes. Q: Hi, I'm a physician from Mexico City. Me and my family are making aliya in 3 weeks, I wanted to know which documents do I need, in order to register for the licensee exam and to start a stag. Where can I find more information or whom may I contact in order to resolve all my doubts. Thank you. A: The ministry of immigrant absorption publishes booklets on licensing etc for different professions. They can be found at: http://www.moia.gov.il/english/publication/empl-g.htm#7 the one for doctors is: http://www.moia.gov.il/pirsumim/doctors_en.pdf Q: I want to make aliya soon. I was wondering if there is any way to ship my car over to Israel (it's right hand drive). I don't want to part with it. Please advise. A: You can bring your car once you have obtained an Israeli license, but you will be charged 75% tax (and the shipping cost of course). Most people recommend against shipping a car. I'm also not certain that a right hand drive car will be allowed on the road. Q: My father immigrated to Israel from Europe in 1947, served in the IDF until 1960. He was an Israeli citizen but then moved to Canada. I was born in Canada. If I make aliya, will I be considered Israeli? Is there a difference in benefits to which I would be eligible? A: You will be considered an ezrach oleh (returning citizen). You receive the same oleh benefits except for arnona reductions and tax breaks on income tax (though you may be able to appeal this last one, in person at the Tax Authority). Q: I just turned 25. In one year I will finish my bachelor degree in police studies, I will still be 25 then. When do I have to make the aliya to make sure that I will be drafted, and will I ever be eligible for officer training in Israel? I have served in the Norwegian army, a total of 4 years. A: 25 year old single males serve 6 months, but your service abroad makes you eligible for a possible reduction/exemption. If you arrive at age 26, you won't be drafted except in exceptional cases. QA: You do have the option of a one-time one-year visit in a Jewish Agency recognized program (seminaries included). You cannot work in Israel pre-aliya as it will affect your benefit eligibility. Beyond this allowed program you cannot visit for more than 4 months at a time or it will affect your status. DO NOT apply for a teudat zehut until you make aliyah. * * * Vol XLII Q: At the age of 17.5 I was granted a year visa to join a 'hashara program'. Afterwards, I studied a degree at Bar Ilan University. I hadn't made aliya, but had a tourist permit. (every three months had to leave the country). At the age of 21.5 I left Israel. (4/08/2003). I haven't traveled to Israel for over two years. What are the military obligations for an oleh 25 years old? A: 6 months, and the fact that you lived in Israel 4 years does not, in your case, influence the duration of your army service because you have been away from Israel for over the past 2 years. Q: What kind of financial assistance could I still benefit, since I've already graduated? A: All the other benefits listed in the previous volume. Q: Hi! I am about to do aliya.. I am 21, female...Do I have to serve in the army in Israel? A: No, a single female needs to serve only if she makes aliya between the ages of 17-20. Q: Can you explain what the benefits of a pilot trip are? It seems like I can just do everything when I get there and not spend the time, money, and effort of making a pilot trip. Thanks. A: I cannot overestimate the importance of a pilot trip if you have never been to Israel before. It will help you decide what region to move to, what job prospects you have, and is important if you are unsure whether or not Israel fits your expectations. The Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) can arrange one for you. * * * Vol XLI Q: I am planning on making aliya this year; I have an MA and wish to pursue a PhD. Does the state guarantee paying for any of the PhD for a new Oleh? A: Only BA's + MA's receive coverage, and under certain conditions. Q: I am 23 yrs old and am contemplating the idea of making aliya; how long will I serve in the army and how will the Israeli government help me get on my feet? A: A single male oleh between 22-25 yrs old serves 6 months. Olim receive assistance in 5 areas: financial (sal klita, rental subsidy, tax breaks) educational (5 month free ulpan, tuition covered for your first BA or MA if you meet certain criteria, vocational courses) free health care the first 6 months, customs benefits, housing (purchase tax reduction, mortgage assistance, arnona reduction). Q: My Wife and myself intend to make aliya within the next 2 years. I will be aged 70 my wife 68. We will have a retirement income from the UK pensions and investments of approx 16k p.a. Will we be entitled to any further subsidy from Israel once we have made aliya? A: You will be entitled to the same categories of financial assistance as a new oleh (amounts differ), apart from the educational (BA, MA) benefits. Q: I am a male American Jew approaching the age of 41 considering making aliya. I work for an international organization which requires me to work abroad. However, I wish to make Israel my home. My questions are: How soon after arriving in Israel am I considered a citizen and when would I receive an Israeli passport? A: Citizenship commences upon 3 months from when you arrive as an oleh (ie if you do not refuse citizenship within those 3 months, you automatically acquire it, retroactive to your date of aliya). Initially you are given travel papers. After residing in Israel 365 days you will be eligible for a passport. Q: Is there any conflict with me working abroad soon after becoming a citizen? A: No, but you will need to sort things out with the tax authority and National Insurance before you leave. Keep in mind that certain aliya benefits and citizen rights are time-dependent. To be considered a resident you also must be in the country the greater part of the year. Q: Would I lose my American citizenship/passport by virtue of becoming an Israeli? A: No Q: What kind of health exam/tests must I undergo prior to being accepted as an Israeli citizen or upon arrival? Are there other tests/checks I must undergo ( I assume a criminal check is needed as well...not that this is an issue)? A: As part of your application for aliya you will be given a medical form for your doctor to complete, and a background check will be performed. * * * Vol XL Q: Does a DNA test proving the Jewish presence in my mother's line qualify for aliya? I have searched everywhere I could think on the internet, and I see no one who addresses this issue... Maybe I am just wishfully thinking that I can see the glorious land. A: DNA tests are not a valid basis for proof of Jewishness. A Jewish wedding certificate, Bar Mitzva certification, or letter from a recognized rabbi would be examples of valid proof. Incidentally, it is not obligatory that it be your mother who was Jewish for you to be eligible for aliya. As long as you have 1 Jewish grandparent you are eligible for aliya. Contact your local JAFI shaliach to discuss eligibility and begin process if applicable. Q: I hold a dual US/Israel citizenship. I lived and worked in Kibbutz Tzeelim in the Negev Israel from 1965 to July 1970. I have lived in the US since then. I was young and did not know that I was signing away my immigrant oleh rights. My wife is American and is not Israeli. My son who is 23 has a job in Israel with Young Judea and would stay in Israel if I moved back. I have another son in the US. I would like to find out how hard it will be for me (I am sixty) to move back. Do I get any housing benefits i.e. what mortgage interest should we expect if we were to immigrate to Israel? I could not find such info on the aliya resources. Also they used to give a free apartment with very low monthly payments, is that still the case? A: YOU ARE CERTAINLY WELCOME TO RETURN TO ISRAEL! The government does not give free apartments. You do have an option of living in areas the government is trying to encourage to be populated (and thus gives financial incentives). From year 2-5 after making aliya, your wife would be eligible for a small rental subsidy. You may be eligible to rent on a kibbutz as part of the Bayit Rishon Bamoledet program (call to find out 972-3-528-0039/68 or 52) but you would need to speak to someone from one of the mortgage banks to verify what the point rate for a mortgage break would be for your specific situation. Do I get any resources in my own right or does only my wife get them? Your wife is entitled to benefits of a new olah, You would need to verify your rights with a shaliach (see above for website): Where is the specific info on help to bring our furniture, car etc.? You are eligible to bring your possessions through customs-free lifts. I recommend you read the personal accounts of olim who brought cars http://www.nbn.org.il/planning/dont_import_car.htm ; most people advise against it. Look also at the meches (customs) website: www.mof.gov.il/customs/eng Q: I was born in the US, but my family (Israeli father) moved to Israel in 1972. I left Israel in 1990 after completing army service. I was single at the time, and had never received any mortgage or government assistance. I am now married to an American woman, with 4 children born in the US. What are our rights? Can we go to an absorption center, or better yet, to a kibbutz center, until we find our way? A: YOU WOULD BE CONSIDERED A "MISHPACHAT OLIM" AND COULD OPEN AN ALIYAH FILE WITH A JEWISH AGENCY SHALIACH IN MIAMI Tel: (305) 573-2556 / 7631. Families in which the head of household is younger than 50 MAY be eligible to live in an absorption center, HOWEVER arrangements must be made IN ADVANCE through an aliyah shaliach). You also have the option of renting on a kibbutz as part of the Bayit Rishon Bamoledet program. Mortgage incentives for olim are in the form of points, but you would need to speak to someone from one of the mortgage banks to verify what the rate would be for your specific situation. MOST FAMILIES RENT ON THE PRIVATE MARKET INITIALLY * * * Send your comments >> Cafe Oleh experts have been chosen for their knowledge and reputation. Cafe Oleh does not take responsibility for any advice they offer.
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