New Beginnings: From New Jersey drivers to kibbutz bike riders

This is the third installment of The Jerusalem Post series recording the life and times of new Olim from the moment they arrive in the country.

September 21, 2006 22:48
New Beginnings: From New Jersey drivers to kibbutz bike riders

US olim 298.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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HOW ARE YOU SETTLING INTO YOUR ROLES ON THE KIBBUTZ? 'I'm working in the dairy," says Riva, who was a veterinarian back in New Jersey. "Some of the milk goes to Tnuva and the rest is used for the kibbutz dining room. I used to work in the cow shed when I was here on Ulpan, so now I get to see the other side." "It is interesting work, but I do miss working with the animals," confesses Riva. "I still need to get a license to practice in Israel as a vet and I will have to take some more exams. And I have to work on the kibbutz for a year, so it's all still up in the air." Riva says Jack has started his Ulpan and is enjoying his work as a service technician in the kibbutz's spice factory. "He learned how to weld this week," says Riva in an excited voice. In New Jersey, Jack worked in prosthetics, so this is a big change for him. "He finds it interesting and likes the people he works with," continues Riva. "Tzahi is having a slightly difficult time in school," says Riva of her seven-year-old son. "It is a very different style of learning and his Hebrew grammar needs improving." "He is working on making new friends, too," says Riva, adding that some of the social differences and etiquettes of play between Israel and the US are contributing to the difficulties. "He is finding his place slowly." Renatya, age four, has settled in very well and is speaking a lot of Hebrew now, says Riva. She has already made many friends and been invited to birthday parties. "The children have even started speaking Hebrew to each other." "The baby is doing great," she says of Chava, her seven-month-old baby. Riva herself is getting used to feeding Chava types of baby food different from what is available in the US. She says it helps that the nursery makes large quantities of the food for her to take home and that the kibbutz dining room has a lot of food appropriate for a baby tasting her first solids. BIGGEST CHALLENGE THIS WEEK 'We tried doing the drivers' stuff, we went to Haifa to apply," says Riva, who last week told The Jerusalem Post that because they had foreign driving licenses they were not able to drive the kibbutz vehicles. "We had our photos taken at the center and took an eye exam around the corner. All that was left was a medical exam." The couple went to Afula to try and have a physical examination, as they had been told that any doctor would be willing to perform the exam. But when they arrived they found that not to be the case. Instead, they have to find and register with a doctor through their health fund. "We ended up going to Home Center instead," says Riva, promising that they would try again next week. The Ben-Ezras will then have to take at least one driving lesson before they can return to Haifa to take the official test. "We did manage to buy a computer desk and a microwave," she says. HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK 'Renatya's kindergarten took a special trip to the mail room to see the article about the family from last week's Jerusalem Post," says Riva. The kibbutz had hung up a copy of the article on the wall for all to see. Tzahi's class also went to see the story. "The children are really happy that they are famous!" she says. NEXT MOVE 'The kibbutz has been going easy on us," says Riva, adding that she expects that to change soon. "We have not been doing as much work as the other members, and we have not begun our security duty or working on Shabbat." Riva also says that despite hoping to finish unpacking all their boxes before the Rosh Hashana holiday, the family still has several more to sort out. HOW ARE YOU SETTLING INTO DAILY LIFE? 'We now have all our phones set up," says Abbe, who last week had been frustrated because without a Teudat Zehut (ID card) or a bank account they had not been able to obtain cell phones. "I told David that I would not feel like a real Israeli until I got my cell phone." Abbe said the couple did not own cell phones back in Wisconsin, so that experience, too, is a totally new one for them. "Now we have to try and learn how to use them," she says, laughing. The Krissmans say they have been busy this week fixing up their new apartment. "We go out, run around to various government offices, come back and take care of stuff in the apartment," says Abbe, describing how she and David have learned how to plaster the walls and are now getting ready to paint them. "We do not have to work, so we have time to do all this," she says. "We are looking forward to finishing this up and unpacking all of our things." BUREAUCRATIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS WEEK Since last week, aside from setting up their cell phones and Bezeq line, the Krissmans have managed to register for health care at a health fund, set up bank accounts and visit the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption to arrange their aliya basket of benefits. "Because we bought our apartment before we were olim, we are now entitled to some tax breaks," explains Abbe. "We expected to be frustrated but were pleasantly surprised," she says. "We were amazed at how kind, patient and friendly everyone was, even in the post office, which we'd heard was a nightmare." She continues: "The bureaucrats at the banks and all those places were not as intimidating as we'd thought they would be." BIGGEST CHALLENGE THIS WEEK 'So far, the biggest challenge is not knowing the language," says Abbe, describing how she bought the wrong laundry detergent because she could not read the label properly. "It is frustrating not being able to express what you need, or describe the right product in a shop," she continues. "In the US we did not think twice about what we wanted to say; now we have to." She also says finding the right people to help them with work on their apartment has been a challenge. And finally, the intense September heat has been a struggle for both Krissmans, even though David grew up in a desert environment. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK 'It wonderful to be in a place where the holiday that we celebrate is the one that everyone else celebrates, too," says Abbe. "Here, all the people in the shops and on the street say 'Shana Tova.' When we were teachers [back in Wisconsin] we always had to request the days off for the High Holy Days, but here it's a national holiday." David says the highlight for him has been being able to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, which the couple buys daily in the Mahaneh Yehuda market near their home. "We are now in a place where the food actually has some taste," he says. "The tomatoes taste like tomatoes and the bread like bread." "We've both lost lots of weight," agrees Abbe. "All the walking and eating healthy food has been great." NEXT MOVE 'We have never been here over the haggim [High Holy Days] so we are looking forward to that," says Abbe, adding that they plan on getting their Internet connection sorted this week. "It all seems so real now," says Abbe. "We have our credit cards, our bank accounts, we feel really established."

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