Ask the aliya experts, Vols X to XIX

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.
    Vol XIX Q: I made aliya in January 1997, served in the army from November 1997 to May 2000 and left Israel in September 2000 until July 2005. My question is: Do I still get income tax credits as an oleh? I faxed the Mas Hachnasa people over a month ago but have not had a response. I would like to know because my employer claims I don't have this right but my understanding of the income tax form I filled out when I started the job, is that time in the army and time out of the country is not taken into account for the 42 months and olim get preferential income tax treatment. What is my situation? A: The income tax authority does allow for the extension of income tax rights for olim who have been out of the country for more than six continuous months, but specifies that this will not apply if the person has been out of the country for more than 3 years. Please refer to the Ministry of Finance's site under Mas Hachnasa , "Know your rights," in the 2004 PDF file, pg 63. Q: I'm an American Citizen born in Jerusalem Israel. My question is whether I am entitled to citizenship in the state of Israel even if my parents are Christian and I'm Christian? A: Citizenship Law in the section on Citizenship from birth states that a person will be a citizen from birth if:
  • That person was born in Israel and at least one parent was Israeli at the time.
  • They were born outside of Israel and at least one parent was an Israeli citizen as a result of: Law of Return, settlement or requesting citizenship. Cafe Oleh suggests you ask this question at Misrad Hapnim if you are interested in applying for Israeli citizenship on your own. * * * Vol XVIII Q: We plan to have a child after conversion (by a reconized rabbi), but, will the child be considered a Jew by the rabbinical authorities? Note that to be considered a Jew for aliya by the civil authorities is very different from being considered a Jew by the rabbinical authorities. I am asking because if the child decides to do aliya, this person would be able to marry a Jew in Israel, since weddings are under the rabbinical authorities supervision. A: The child would be considered Jewish by the rabbinate if the conversion you undergo is an Orthodox one, by a rabbi recognized by the Orthodox Union. Q: My wife and I got married in Denmark in 1987. She is the Jewish part and is a returning citizen after 20 years living in Denmark. I became a bit puzzled when I read about the couple in question on your webside - one person of which obviously anxiously is awaiting a response from the Ministry of Interior. As far as I have understood by reading the Law of Return a non-Jewish spouse would be elligable to israely citizenship automatically - I mean according to this very law of 1970 - indeed a historical change to the former formulation which did not mention other persons than Jewish. For the time being I am a tourist and have therefore really no significant rights allthough my wife now is the holder of her new Israeli passport. I know that one can stay for quite some time as a tourist, but in the long run this situation is not recommenable for obvious reasons. Furthermore I wish to convert and have the reform movement in mind - what do say to all this. A: The Law of Return states that the spouse of a Jew is entitled to make aliya. My understanding is that the Supreme Court made a ruling that this does not apply to the spouse of an Israeli citizen. Thus the spouse of a person who is making aliya is included in the package and receives citizenship and the benefits of an Oleh but a non-Jewish spouse of an Israeli citizen is not included under the Law of Return. If, however, your conversion is done by a rabbi recognized by the reform movement, you will be elgible to make aliya. * * * Vol XVII Q: I am aware that there are many events and places in Israel where single mature people are able to meet, besides the internet. Can you tell me how to find these? A: The AACI, Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, has activities in the Sharon area - contact the Tel Aviv branch at (03) 529 1707 . You can also visit ESRA's website. Q: We plan to have a child after my wife converts but, will the child be considered a Jew to the rabbinical authorities? I understand that being considered a Jew for aliya purposes by the civil authorities is very different from being considered a Jew by the rabbinical authorities. A: The child would be considered Jewish by the rabbinate if the conversion is an Orthodox one, by a rabbi recognized by the Orthodox union. Q: I am interested in sending my children to summer day camp in Israel. They are not Hebrew speakers, but they do attend a Jewish Day School, and are familiar with Hebrew. How would I go about finding information about various day camps? A: AACI maintains an updated list. Please write to them at [email protected] to receive it Q: I am 25 and an officer in the US Air force and am obligated to the military for one more year. I want to know if I do make aliyah would I be able to work for the IDF as a career officer? Would any of my time in service or training count in the IDF? For example if I got out of the US military as a captain would I be able to join the IDF as the equivalent rank? A: In the new IDF orders, people over 26 are exempt from serving in the army. Although I think that it's a great honor to Israel for a person like you will come and serve, you may need to fight to get into the air-force, and you'll have to serve the first two years as a regular soldier. The chances that they will even consider the application are very very slim. However, its worth trying with the army recruitment office . Q: I am considering starting my Masters degree. What sort of degree would be most helpful in Israel? I heard there is a program for new oleh to get a higher degree in Israel. Is this the case and would it better to get a degree before I made aliya or do it there? A: If you make aliya, your MA tuition will be covered by the government if you begin your studies before the age of 30 and you enroll in a government approved program (certain programs, such as an accelerated, one-year english language MBA, are not fully covered). The Student Authority will give you guidance. The degree you choose depends on your interests, ability, economic trends, job opportunities, etc. * * * Vol XVI Q: In an effort to research our family tree, My wife and I took both took DNA tests from The results from our DNA test showed that I have Jewish heritage (Ashkenazi Levite) on my father's side and my wife has Jewish heritage (Ashkenazi) on her mother's side. If we choose are we able to make aliya based on our DNA results? A: The criteria of The Law of Return is having at least a Jewish grandparent. If a person can prove that to have been the case to the satisfaction of Misrad Hapnim then you can make aliya. Otherwise the only path open to you is conversion. Q: I made aliya in 2000, then promptly returned back home and married. My wife and I came to Israel together a year later. My wife is not Jewish and she has been waiting for her citizenship ever since. I hope that this situation will end happily. However, her circumstances are still hard to understand. During the long waiting period we found out that the citizenship for my wife is conditional on many considerations, which are hard for us to figure out. There seem to be certain guidelines to citizenship for a non-Jewish spouse, but we cannot find them. Please help! A: If an Israeli citizen marries a non-Jew, the non-Jewish spouse is not accorded citizenship immediately but rather receives a residency visa which is usually assessed for renewal on a yearly basis by the Interior Ministry. After a period of time that is usually, but not necessarily, five years, the Interior Ministry can grant citizenship. Q: I have been away in Australia for years and now seek a way to resettle in Israel. I heard that some kibbutzim allow people to rent a room and also to work for salary at the kibbutz. Is there any central listing or website for me to find out which kibbutzim offer this possibility? A: We suggest you contact the following: Bayit Rishon Bemoledet 972-3-528 0039, the United Kibbutz Movement, 972-3-692 5345, or your aliya counsellor in Sydney: Zionist Federation of Australia, 140 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia, (02) 936 02368, fax (02) 938 05124, e-mail: [email protected] Also look at - a project of Takam and Misrad Haklita in which kibbutzim offering housing options (usually new neighborhoods, not becoming a kibbutz member) are listed - its main focus is toshavim hozrim. It is based in North America (there's a rep in the IAC in NY), but I'd assume that even from Australia you could check it out. A lot of kibbutzim have undergone a privatization process and have looked at new ways of acquiring revenue - it is possible that there are some that may have housing units for rent. * * * Vol XV Q: I made aliya this year, but was really unprepared and returned to the States after five weeks. I did not renounce my Israeli citizenship, I just got the travel document Misrad Hapnim gives to olim who have been in the country less than three months. My question is: what are the benefits/downsides to keeping Israeli citizenship if a) I never live in Israel again, but visit and b) if I decide to return to live. Would I be making aliya again? What impact would my Israeli citizenship have on children I may have in the future? Would I be able to enter Israel with a US passport or would I needto get an Israeli one (and how do I do that from the US)? A: As you have Israeli citizenship you will need to enter and exit Israel using an Israeli travel document - you should be in contact with your local Israeli Consulate for this purpose. As you have gained Israeli citizenship through the Law of Return, if you have children they will also be considered to be Israeli citizens and will require Israel travel documents. Israeli citizens of army age should arrange to receive a letter from the Israeli Consulate to allow them to visit for certain periods of time without having to worry about being called up by the army. Were you to return to live you would not be making aliya again. However, certain, but not all of your rights may be reclaimed for the period that you are out of the country. Q: I made aliya almost 10 years ago. My daughter, 19 years old at the time, made aliya nine months later. She is on my teudat oleh and is married now and would like to purchase a home. I can not afford to purchase a home, what are her rights? A: She wouldn't be eligible for the Mas Rehisha break as more than seven years have passed since her date of aliya. My understanding is that it depends on what the status of her husband is - if he is also an oleh then she would be added on to his teudat oleh by Misrad Haklita. Otherwise she would not be entitled to benefits as an olah but should still be eligible for assistance as a young family. Q: After more than 40 years I may be a toshav hozer (returning resident), could I take my car, and how much import duty would I have to pay? A: A toshav hozer is defined by the Customs Authority as a person who was once a resident of Israel, left at the age of at least 14 and resided overseas for a period of time of at least two years before returning to live in Israel. The Customs Authority differentiates between a toshav hozer who has been overseas for two to six years and for more than 6 years, with greater benefits for those who have been overseas for more than six years. In neither case do the benefits given to a toshav hozer include tax breaks on the import or purchase of a car however. A toshav hozer has to pay taxes, the amount of which depends on the make, model of the car and where it was produced. There are restrictions applied to the age of the car and a long list of technical specifications must be met if the car is to receive a license in Israel. More information is available from the Vehicle Department, Customs House in Haifa, fax no, (04) 962 8469. "Received wisdom" is that it does not pay to import a car. * * * Vol XIV Q: I'm a 24 year-old Brazilian lawyer. Moving to Israel has always been on my mind, but I believe I will not be able to work there as a lawyer unless I go to an Israeli Law School all over again. Please tell me all about it. A: You do not have to do law school all over again, but you will need to study for and pass the Israeli Bar (the exam is in Hebrew, though answers can be written in English, and is difficult; the preparatory course can take from six months to a year, intensive.) Once you pass the test you need to do a year of internship. Finding a job afterwards depends on your field of expertise. There are rare cases where you can work just with your foreign license. You can look at the various job websites to get a sense of what jobs exist. See Cafe Oleh Listings for job websites. Q: I am currently studying at a major US university in New York and I am trying to get some information about the field of optometry in Israel. Firstly, what is involved in becoming accredited to practice optometry in Israel if one already holds a Doctorate of Optometry from an American school? Also, where could I find a source for the average salary of this profession in Israel? I am very comitted to making aliya, but whether I take that step now or further down the line hinges on whether I would be able to support my family in this career. A: An optometrist must pass a licensing exam (held in May-June or in Nov-Dec). It can be taken in Engliah. Once you pass the exam, you may begin to practice. To register for the exam, contact the department of medical professions at (02) 670 5820. You will need to present the following documents: school degree, foreign license, certification of completion of internship, official confirmation of beginning and end of studies, three passport photos and documentation of past work experience (if you have any). Regarding salaries, please look at the Department of Health's website (English link) to find your field. * * * Vol XIII Q: I am an olah of 2 1/2 years. My husband has no "rights" as he was here for too long as a "tourist." We currently get a rent subsidy as though I am single. We will, G-d willing, be welcoming our first child in February. What is our status with regards child benefit? Are we a couple? Am I single? Does his non-oleh status have any meaning in relation to this? A: The rental subsidy is from the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, while the child benefit is from the national insurance, in whose eyes you are married. As to an increase in your rental subsidy, that is something you will need to verify with the bank. Q: Also, we are considering buying a home. Are we "entitled" to the discount in mas rehisha? An oleh mortgage (do those still exist?) If he has no zchuyot, but he's been here longer how do we get the benefit of those years here? A: Yes, you are entitled to the discount, and oleh mortgages do still exist. You should be able to receive all, in your name. Q: I returned to Israel as a toshav hozer in July 1998. In October 1998 I left after not finding a job. I hope to return in January 2006 for good. While not looking for handouts or deals, nevertheless I would like to know if there are benefits I can receive , like sending a few boxes of personal belongings without tax, or maybe there isn't any tax at all ? What can I send or not send? A: Because you have been away for several years, there may be things you are still eligible for, including sending three lifts of possessions, tax free. Your aliya shaliach will give you a definitive answer for your specific case. Q: I am Jewish on my father's side only. If I choose to make aliya will the same services and assistance be available to me, asto those who are considered "halachically" Jewish? A: Yes * * * Vol XII Readers please note the following change that was recently instituted regarding the registration of para-medicals: Licensing for paramedical professionals: In the light of a Supreme Court ruling, the Ministry of Health is no longer issuing licenses (Teudot Hakara) to paramedical professionals in the following fields: Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Chiropady, Podiatary, Dental Assistants, Medical laboratory workers, Medical Technologists, X-Ray operators, Heart-Lung machine operators, Clinical Criminology, Dietitians, and Clinical Genetics. In a letter received by the offices of merkaz Meida, the Ministry of Health has confirmed that according to a Supreme Court ruling: "Public sector and other employers may employ a person who does not have a Certificate of Recognition from the Ministry of Health". The ruling is based on the fact that none of these professions are governed by law (as opposed to Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Psychology, Pharmacy, Optometry and Hynosis). The Supreme Court ruled that until such a time as these professions are governed by law, the Ministry of Health cannot issue a certificate of recognition, or prevent a person from working in the field by not doing so. * * * Vol XI Q:I made aliya nine years ago. My wife hasn't and wants to. She has been living in Israel for six years as a tourist. What are her rights? A: She has one more year of rights to a reduced property acquisition tax, and to educational/employment assistance (ie retraining or placement) and nine more years for an oleh mortgage. Q: After graduating from secondary school at the age of 17, I arrived in Israel. I enrolled in a one year program (hashara toranit=yeshiva+kibbutz) and for this purpose I was granted a one year visa. The following year, I enrolled in Bar Ilan University, where I completed my BA in computer science. During these three years I had the status of tourist. After the completion of my studies, I returned to Belgium. My questions are:
  • At present I'm 24 years old. Imagine I would decide to return to Israel and make aliya. If I stayed more than one year out of Israel, would they consider my status as someone who arrived at the age of 17 or 24 in terms of army service? Does this make any difference in terms of the draft period?
  • If I decide to return to Israel, and request a work permit for the entitled three years, and let's say I would make aliya at the age of 27, would this make any difference in terms of the draft duration? A: A 17 year old serves 30 months, a 24 year old = 3 months, a 27 year old, not at all. So it makes a huge difference. In order for you not to be considered an oleh from the age of 17, you would need to remain out of Israel for two years. Q: Kindly provide me with information about my status as well as that of my children. I am considering moving back to Israel after living 16 years in the US. My children were born in the States and I am aware that they are Israeli citizens. However I wonder what - if any - assistance we would receive if we decided to go back, since they speak no Hebrew at all and both are of elementary school age. I was 10 years old when I made aliya with my family in 1971, but in 1990 I moved to the US. Will I be considered as toshav hozer or toshav ole, and what would be the zhuyot for my family to ease the transition? A: Since you were over the age of 14 when you left, you will be considered a toshav hozer, and are eligible for some rental and mortgage subsidies (each case is different so I cannot tell you specific amounts), for assured income following the first few months of aliya, and you may bring three lifts within the first three years, customs-free. Your children will be eligible for most of the rights of a new oleh (ulpan etc), but rental benefits will be for the family as a whole, not on an individual basis. If your wife is not Israeli, she may be elgible for all the benefits of an oleh. Check with your local shaliach. * * * Vol X Q: I'm studying dentistry and also working in a restaurant. I'm 29 years old and I want to live in Israel. Can I go to the army first and then finish my studies in dentistry at an Israeli university? I have double nationality, Spanish and Israeli, because I was born in Israel, but I don't speak a word of Hebrew. A: If you enroll in your studies before the age of 30, you may be eligible to have some of your tuition covered by the Student Athority. If you prefer to do the army first, you will lose out on this.You can take an ulpan as part of your studies to prepare you for the Hebrew at university, but you will also learn Hebrew in the army. Q: Though not officially part of any Jewish congregation, at the moment, I affiliate my self with the Reform movement. My father was born Jewish and comes from Jewish lineage. My mother converted to Judaism through a Reform Synagogue in Buenos Aires before she got married and before giving birth to myself and my brothers. Making aliya has been a dream of mine for a long time. Am I eligible for aliya? A: Yes. Q: Yes, I should have made aliya 15 years ago, before I got married (to someone who did not share my dream) and had two kids. Now we're not together anymore, but I also have no savings and I'm 47. Is it too late for me? I don't want to wait until retirement age. I'm also concerned about employment. My field is healthcare administration. I can't imagine having to retrain as an electrician or a carpenter or something. Have I missed the boat? A: I am not one who believes it is ever to late to make aliya. You will need to make a bit more of an effort, and do as much "home-work" and utilization of services and resources as possible. By homework, I mean networking with anyone you know in Israel to see if you can get a lead on a job, as well as to begin searching the following sites: Jobnet Israemploy Tehilla Jewish Agency and Jobs In Israel. Israel tries to help its olim, through financial grants (approximately NIS 15,000 - about $3,400 - in the first year) and vocational assistance (placement, guidance etc). In addition, speak to your shaliah for concrete suggestions specific to your situation. Note from Cafe Oleh: Check out our comprehensive listings. * * * Vol XI Q: My wife and I, along with our two year old, are considering moving to Israel within the next two years. I am 53 and we have three older children. Although we are quite anxious to make the move we know there will be some transition problems, in particular as regards our responsibilities to the older children who will not be coming with us and employment possibilities. My question is should we be going through the formal aliya process from the beginning, or should we give ourselves a six month "trial" in Israel before making a final decision on our status? A: If you have never been to Israel for an extended period of time (at least two to three months), ideally within the past 20 years, as Israel has changed in this period of time. I would definitely come for a trial period first, although if you see that six months are not enough, be aware that longer stays will effect your benefits if you do make aliya. Q: I am a 30-year-old US Army officer with four years active duty experience in combat, including 14 months in Iraq. I now have reserve obligations and college loans to pay off and won't be able to make aliya until I pay my debts. I will be 32 or 33 before I can get to Israel. I understand that olim are not drafted after 32, but I still want to serve and maybe make a career in the IDF. What are my options? A: Upon arrival, you can petition the draft board and they can decide to accept you for service. The capacity in which you will serve will depend upon your health and other considerations at that future date. Q: I made aliya in February of 2004. At the time, the tax rate on cars with engines smaller than 1.5 liters was 25%. The rate was raised in mid-2004 to 50%. What tax will I pay on a new car with a engine smaller than 1.5 liters? A: Unfortunately, the new, higher rate. Q: What level of conversion is acceptable for aliya? I am doing this process through a Conservative rabbi and want to be sure that I will be able to make aliya after I am finished. A: As long as your rabbi is recognized by his movement, it will be recognized as far as the Right of Return is concerned. You will be entitled to citizenship and aliya benefits as a Jew, but not recognized as far as the Rabbinate is concerned (so that if you want to get married in Israel, or other participate in other aspects of life that are overseen by the Rabbinate, you will not be able to although pressure is being put on the government to change this). Your rabbi will need to provide a letter acknowledging his recognition by the Conservative Movement. * * * Vol X Q: If we choose to just pick up and move to Israel, where do I find immediate programs to help with the process? We prefer to move to a kibbutz, are there specific ones which welcome new people to their community? A: Aliya is a serious step. I would not simply move without consulting a shaliach for advice, information, and to help get the paperwork started. You can contact the Jewish Agency for assistance via e-mail, see their website . They will also tell you about kibbutzim that absorb new olim. Why not take advantage of all the wonderful assistance that Nefesh B'Nefesh provides? Q: I made aliya on my own at the age of 19 in 1998. I lived on a kibbutz which I loved, but could never make it as a citizen. I moved back to England in 2000, to rejoin my family and get more educated. Since then, I have married he isn't Jewish. We have both thought about moving back to Israel, but not too sure how to go about it! Would my husband have to convert to Judaism or can he make aliya because he has married a jewish girl who has an Israeli passport? What if when we get there, I will find that i don't have the support again? Last time I was there, I had so many problems finding somewhere to live, somewhere to work, and no one could help me! I wanted my life to be on a kibbutz, but i was told that it wouldn't happen (I think I was too young). What should my husband do about his status? He isn't religious, but he may convert if this is the only way for us to live there! Any advice? A: According to the Law of Return your husband can make aliya without converting. As to support, (ie advice), you can always turn to us once you're here. We help with information on housing, employment etc. Before you make the move, do some research on your profession in Israel, on where you'd like to live, and on your expectations vis-a-vis the reality of life here. Speak to an aliya shaliach, for pre-aliya advice. In England our shlichim are based in Londona nd Manchester: London The Jewish Agency for Israel Balfour House 741 High Road Finchley London N12 OBQ, England Tel: (0208) 369-5220 x5222 Fax: (0208) 369-5221 Email: [email protected] Manchester The Jewish Agency for Israel Mamlock House 142 Bury Old Rd. Manchester M8 4HS England Tel: (0161) 740-2864 Fax: (0161) 740-2050 Email: [email protected] Q: My family and I would like to make aliya. I am a ger, and have been actively involved in our synagogue for several years. One of my sons celebrated bar mitzva with this congregation and my second son is studying. The problem is my wife is Jewish, but her family denies her Jewish roots, as her only surviving parent, her mother, now denies her Jewish parentage and says she is nominally Catholic, though she belongs to no church. We have made our Reform congregation our extended family and this is where my conversion took place. Our rabbi is much more Conservative than most Reform rabbis, and my conversion included long study, Beit Din, Hatafat Dam (as I was circumcised as an infant) and mikve. I feel such great need to move my family to Eretz Yisrael. We are in a very rural area and I really want my sons to grow up where they can be comfortable as Jews, no matter what. I am beginning an aliya tik. Do you see any problems with my wife's lack of Jewish documentation? A: If your conversion is recognized then it wouldn't matter even if your wife were not Jewish, because she would be married to someone who is. Your shaliach will also help you begin the aliya process. To verify your conversion write to the Jewish agency [email protected], or to the nearest shaliach: The Michigan Israel Connection Max M. Fisher Building 6735 Telegraph Rd., Suite 206 Bloomfield Township, MI 48301 Tel: (248) 645-7878 Fax: (248) 645-7879 Email: [email protected] * * * 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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