New Beginnings: Two families

The highlight of aliya: 'Having our family nearby.'

olim 88 (photo credit: Nefesh B'Nefesh)
olim 88
(photo credit: Nefesh B'Nefesh)
David and Abbe Krissman Aliya date: September 5. From: Glendale, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee) New location: Nahlaot, Jerusalem Starting a new life in Israel, even at the age of 62, is a logical step for David and Abbe Krissman. With both their daughters - Aviella, 34, and Hilary, 31 - and six grandchildren already living here, the Wisconsin natives decided they wanted to live close to family. They are retired, and extremely excited to have the opportunity to live close to their offspring. The couple arrived on a Nefesh B'Nefesh/Jewish Agency flight. Aliya achievements so far: David and Abbe actually purchased their Nahlaot apartment back in December. According to Abbe: "Both our daughters had babies in December and we were coming out anyway. Aviella put a posting on Janglo [ group/janglo/] to ask if any English speakers in the neighborhood would show us around and we ended up buying the apartment from the person who responded." In addition to finding the home of their dreams in Jerusalem, the Krissmans have already received their shipment of personal belongings and furniture. Now the couple is just "trying to get organized," Abbe says. They received their identity cards (teudot zehut) on Tuesday at an Nefesh B'Nefesh-sponsored fair, along with information on banks and health funds. "The banking system still seems confusing but I am sure I will master it eventually," says David. Biggest challenges so far: 'Still not being organized or in control of our lives," says Abbe. "We are both former teachers and by nature, control freaks." She adds, "Trying to get a cell phone has been difficult, too, because we had no credit cards. We could not get a phone, and we could not open a bank account without the teudat zehut. My daughter said that in order to live in Israel one needs to have a lot of patience." Best part of aliya so far: 'Having our children around," says Abbe, without hesitation. "They have all been so incredible and helpful. It is wonderful to pick up the phone and hear the voices of our grandchildren and know they are nearby. That has been the highlight." Insights since arriving: 'In many ways, it is easier for us to make aliya now that we are retired," says Abbe. "We do not have to worry about finding jobs. All we have to do is get connected with an ulpan and enjoy our days here." Riva and Jack Ben Ezra Aliya date: August 10 From: New Jersey New location: Kibbutz Sde Eliahu, near Beit She'an Getting three young children settled into a new life is no easy feat, but arriving at their new home during a war added a whole new dimension to aliya for Riva, 36, and Jack, 37. On the other hand, the Ben Ezras believed that kibbutz life would be "safe and comfortable," for their three children - Tzachi, seven, Rinatya, four, and Chava, seven months. Professionals back in New Jersey, the Ben Ezras will have to spend at least a year working on the kibbutz if they want to eventually apply for membership. The family also arrived on a Nefesh B'Nefesh/Jewish Agency flight. Aliya achievements so far: 'Everything has been smooth, relatively speaking," says Riva. "The children are now settled. Tzachi in kitah bet [second grade], Rinatya in gan [kindergarten] and Chava in nursery." The family's shipment arrived from the US last week, which has helped to make the children feel more settled as they have all their belongings around them. The kibbutz has provided them with basic furniture such as beds, a couch, a refrigerator, tables and chairs. Riva says they did not bring any furniture with them from the US, as it would have been far too big for the tiny kibbutz house they have been allotted. Biggest challenges so far: 'Rinatya has been having a hard time with the Hebrew," says Riva, who spent time on the kibbutz back in 1989. "But she has been learning to communicate in other ways than verbally. My husband also finds the language difficult and is waiting for the kibbutz ulpan to start." However, the biggest challenge for the Ben Ezra family was arriving in the North while Katyushas were raining down nearby. "Still, coming to the North during a war meant there were fewer people at the government offices," jokes Riva. "We were a little nervous about it, though," she adds in a more serious tone. "When a rocket hit near Beit She'an, we called friends on the kibbutz and they reassured us. Most of our friends and family in the US, however, thought we were insane. We figured that we would just come and if things got worse we could stay with friends further south." Riva says that the warning siren went off on the kibbutz one during the week following their arrival. They just explained what was going on to the children as best they could. Best part of aliya so far: 'We are both interested in agriculture and Jack likes working with his hands a lot," says Riva, explaining why they chose the kibbutz lifestyle. "We thought it would be safe and comfortable and we wanted to be as pioneering as possible." Riva says they also wanted to give the children a better life, away from the rat race of the city. She is enjoying the freedom a kibbutz provides. "The baby is in the nursery and I am free to go back and forth to nurse her there whenever I want," she says. Next move: Riva and Jack need to apply for their driving licenses because they are not allowed to operate kibbutz cars using a foreign license. The nearest office is in Haifa. "I try to get one thing done a week," she says. "We'll have to take a day off to go to Haifa and apply, take some lessons and then sit for the test."