Answers about moving to Israel

It’s been over a week now since we officially announced that our family will be moving to Israel this summer, and I’m so amazed and appreciative of the unilaterally positive response we’re getting!

I figured there would be some people who would be dubious or even negative about making a decision like this so quickly, when it might seem like all of the pieces aren’t yet in place.  But I’m hearing again and again, how wonderful it is that we’re doing this, how the person I’m speaking to wishes they could do the same thing, and they go on to tell us how happy we’re going to be living in Israel. 

This has been really nice for me, but it’s been more than nice for dh, who was more hesitant than I was about this decision.  Hearing so many people say how smart/wonderful they think it is is a real support!  Dh is now just as committed and positive about going as I am, and thanked me for propelling the family to make this move.

Here are some questions I’ve been asked:

– Where are you going? 

 To a city in the northern part of Israel called Karmiel.

– Why Karmiel? 

I felt based on my research from a distance that it would be a good fit for us religiously, and also be warm and relaxed.  Dd16 spent a Shabbos there after we had already decided to go, and told us she thinks it’s a great fit for our family and she thinks we’ll be very happy there. (On a side note, she told me the rabbi of the synagogue shared something I said his Shabbos morning talk without quoting me.  I asked her why she thought it was me, and after asking me if I had said a particular statement, she said as soon as she heard him say it, she was sure I was the anonymous person he was quoting!  Fortunately, it was something positive that he was impressed by.  :)  Isn’t it funny that my daughter happened to be sitting there the week that he shared it?

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to learn that someone I’m friendly with had just returned from her pilot trip to that area , and her detailed feedback was very helpful in confirming our decision.  Before that, I felt like technically everything seemed like a good fit, but the intangible feeling of the community is what I really wanted to know about.  She was able to share that with me.  

We didn’t want to live in an Anglo enclave, since I think it’s important to learn the language and socially integrate.  The Anglo community is Karmiel is small but growing, and for us, this is a benefit since it’s nice to be involved in a community when it’s still small and everyone knows each other.  You have to work a lot harder to be involved communally in a large and established community.

– What will your husband do professionally? 

This is a good question that has a good answer, but I don’t yet know the answer!  Something that will offer him an opportunity to use his strengths in a positive environment where he will be well-compensated. 

– Why do you want to move to Israel? 

This is the hardest question to answer, because it’s really all about an intangible feeling.  I can’t point to anything materially that will be better than what I have here, though that’s certainly possible.  It’s really about the feeling in the air.  I want my kids to grow up with that. 

I met an Israeli couple when standing in line ordering shwarma a week ago, and they told me they were moving back this summer after living in the US for many years.  I asked why they were going back, and the not especially religious looking husband said, “Because when you wake up in the morning, you feel close to G-d in Heaven.” 

– Are you taking a lift?

No, though we might be able to buy some lift space from someone else to send along some seforim (religious books) and homeschooling materials.  Otherwise, it will be what we can fit into our suitcases.  It’s very freeing knowing that I can’t take most of what I have, and I’ve already given away tons of stuff.  Before Pesach (Passover) is an especially good time for this since it means lots less to clean around. :)

– Why are you moving now?

I’ve casually considered moving to Israel a number of times over the years, but dismissed it since it seemed unrealistic.  It seemed too costly (our family doesn’t qualify for any of the benefits for new immigrants), and family-wise, the message is generally to be very, very cautious when making a move with kids over the age of 10 or 12.  I realized that even though we have older kids, it’s actually the perfect time since dd16 and ds17 have graduated high school but not yet started college plans.  Dd14 is very enthusiastic about going.  Ds12 is the most resistant because he doesn’t want to leave his friends, but out of all of our children, he’s the one who has the personality best suited to making new friends and embracing new situations, so he’ll do fine.  The other 5 kids will be 10 and under, so it’s a much simpler transition at that point. 

As I continued thinking out different factors, I had a growing sense of clarity that this wasn’t a crazy idea, that it was something we could do, and should do.  The hardest part of this has been making the decision.  It meant being willing to leave my comfort zone and start all over, which can be an intimidating thought.  You know the objections that came to mind as I was working through the main points?  Little things like,  ‘But I don’t know where to buy in bulk or get good deals.’ :roll:

It reminded me of when I was trying to decide if I should stop working before my third child was born so I could be home full-time.  One of the nice perks at work (besides a salary and adult company) was that I got a nice hot lunch every day, and when fresh fruit was left over, I was often told to take it home for the kids.  So when I thought of not working, I thought, “I won’t be able to get the free fruit anymore!”  I know, it sounds absurd, right?   Sometimes it’s really the little things that we don’t want to let go of that hold us back, not the big things.  When I’m faced with decisions like this, I’ve learned to recognize when I’m afraid of ‘not having the fruit’, and that helps me get things back into perspective. 

I know I was asked other questions – what did I forget?  I’ll answer about our thoughts regarding homeschooling in Israel in it’s own post.  If there’s something else you want to know, go ahead and ask!

Avivah

25 thoughts on “Answers about moving to Israel

  1. I just looked up Karmiel on Wikipedia. Looks so lovely! And I found out that it is the sister city of the city that I live in. :)

  2. I’ll be honest, I know very little about Karmiel. I’ve been there once 7 years ago, and we had a hard time finding anything kosher (not mehadrin, just plain old kosher) near the tachana merkazit. All the pizza stores had chicken on their pizza. It had a very anti religious feel to it. I assume that not all areas in Karmiel are the same, and I have met a religious (mexican) family who lived there… I just have that association of karmiel meaning anti religious because of my experience. (We were on a long trip and stopped in karmiel for food and we wandered around for an hour and the only kosher food we found was ice cream…)
    One thing to think about- in the north its lots cheaper to live, but jobs are also a lot scarcer. To get to jobs, often you need to travel great distances, making a car an absolute necessity. Buses in the north to and from the cities to do things are also expensive. The selection of services and goods is smaller and more expensive, and if you want to get things cheaper, you need to travel really far…

    I can point you in the direction of some sources for bulk foods when you get here- I buy coconut oil, whole wheat flour, and other similar things from a bulk baking supply store.

    Also note that organics are a ton cheaper here- the cheapest organic veggies I’ve seen have been at least 7 times the price of what I pay for veggies on sale. And organic meat? Fohgetabout it.

    I know its a long way off, but if possible, I recommend bringing your cultures with you, like kefir grains or kombucha or whatever, as it’s forbidden to be sold here and isn’t always so easy to find people who have to give away.

    1. Thank you for your offer, Ronit; I’d love to get information from you.

      We’re trying to decide if we should take our grain grinder with us – what do you think? Are wheat berries easily available in bulk?)

      1. Thats a good question.
        I get whole wheat flour in bulk for 4 shekel per kilo, and I haven’t seen wheat berries here at all- only whole wheat that is already hulled (I think) and those cost at least 6 shekel per kilo. Then again, I haven’t looked everywhere, perhaps you can find whole wheat berries cheaply- I didn’t try more than 3 places.
        While I think that for wheat it probably isn’t worth it to bring the grinder, if you make other specialty flours (like I’m pretty sure you do- like your sprouted wheat flour, or buckwheat flour, or rice flour), its much cheaper to make your own than to buy.
        Are you not going to bring your dehydrator because of lack of room? Or because you don’t think you’ll use it in israel? I can give you plans as to how to make your own dehydrator from cheap/scrap material here. (It cost me 15 shekel total to make.)

        1. Thanks for all the information, Ronit!

          I’m not bringing a lift, only what we can fit into suitcases. So that means bringing only what’s essential. No dehydrator, no canning jars, and no food supplies. I’ve already considered bringing xylitol and nut flours if we paid someone for lift space, but I found out yesterday the friend I thought was going to move to Karmiel who I planned to buy lift space from isn’t moving after all. As our moving date gets closer, it’s likely I’ll learn of other people to buy space from, though. And if I can’t bring anything and do without, that’s fine, too. I’m not stuck on having to have certain things, or do certain things (eg canning, dehydrating).

      2. And just for now if you want the link to where I buy my bulk foods (and feel free to ask me again when you get here)- I buy my things from Poliva baking supplies ( Poliva.co.il ) near Ramle. Their prices aren’t listed on their website; you need to call them for a quote. They’re a shlep to deal with, but their prices for certain things are unbeatable!
        If possible, I recommend bringing certain foods with you. I haven’t found xylitol anywhere here (and I’ve been looking for months), and I haven’t seen sucanat anywhere either. Most of the natural stuff are either very hard to find here (if not downright impossible) or super expensive- or both- so if you have any way of bringing stuff with you that you get in the US cheaper, I strongly recommend that. I’ve tried to order online from the US, but amazon, for example, won’t ship foods to Israel…

      3. Oh, and one last thing for now- nuts and nut flour and coconut cream and dessicated coconut are really expensive here- if you have a cheap source in the US and a way to store them bug free, I’d recommend bringing them as well. (They don’t sell shredded coconut here, only stuff thats roughly the consistency of matza meal.) Coconut costs roughly 25 shekel a kilo in the cheaper stores, as do sesame seeds and peanuts and sunflower seeds. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc… are much much much more expensive.

  3. Ok, now I’m angry! lol!!!

    Of course, just kidding, but my good homeschooling friends in my neighborhood just told me that they’re moving to Karmiel in the summer, too! Everyone loves the north! I’m going to be all alone here in Jerusalem! :-)
    I’ve been there, it’s beautiful. Great choice! I’m really excited for you and your family!!

    1. That’s very nice to hear that there will be another homeschooling family there! (Would you be able to share their names with me privately?)

      Thanks for your positive feedback; as I said in the post, it’s really nice to get support.

      If you get lonely in J-m, then prices will come down and everyone will run back. Not going to happen, I think!

      1. Ha! Yes, I think you’d have a fun time cramming your family into our 2 bedroom apartment. :) I’ll be happy to talk to my friends and share their names! I’ll email you.

  4. I’ve been to Karmiel! My father’s best friend lives there. Lots of lots of Russian Jews, nice small town atmosphere. I didn’t meet any frum people there, but I didn’t look for them. We only stopped by to visit my father’s friend.

    My BIL’s family lives in Maalot, which is not very far, and his father is religious. They have a Chabad community there. Also sounds like a nice and friendly place. If you need any connections let me know.

  5. I’m pretty sure wheat berries are available somewhere in Israel, as I have a friend in Yerushalayim who makes wheat berry salad :)

    1. Yes and no. I buy “wheat berries” that look like barley, rice, etc… but they’re not the whole grain. They don’t sprout, and I was told by the shop keeper that they’re not “whole wheat”. I assume they’re the wheat equivalent of white rice or pearl barley, but they;re not whole grain.

  6. Mazal Tov on the great news, Avivah! We definitely have to do an Israel meet!
    We buy organic wheat berries in bulk–I actually sell sprouted wheat flour here in Israel! (Anyone who’s interested can call me at 02 538 9737 or email at breslover38@gmail.com). Anyways, we go through about 50 lbs in a month and a half. We pay 5 shekels a kg and the family who we get it from (on Moshav Susiah) is a pleasure to deal with AND the wheat is grown in Israel (not imported like other wheat I’ve seen being sold). The wheat we buy is wonderful and light–we are very happy with it!

    Ronit–can you PLEASE tell me how to get coconut oil in bulk??? Are you talking about the REAL organic amazing stuff? I would love to know. Prices too, please!

    And anyone else living in Israel, I have great news for you all: iherb.com!
    iherb.com has a grocery section that sells xylitol, spices, oils, and other goodies. They also sell supplements, herbs, and bath/body stuff for great prices. The catch is that shipping to Israel is a flat fee of $4! Just make sure to keep every order under 3 lbs. (there is a “scale” in the shopping cart so you can see the weight as you add products), otherwise the package can get stuck in customs (and you have to pay a fee of $60…not very happy!)
    If you are a first time customer, here is a $5 off coupon (for your first purchase): IRA838.

    We also buy organic grape juice in bulk–ends up costing 18.30 shekels per bottle (750 ml) which is amazing b/c in the health food stores each bottle goes for around 30 shekel!

    If anyone wants numbers/more info, let me know!

  7. Shalom,
    We are a family of four (currently-other kids married already) who made aliya from Baltimore in 2007.
    We live in Efrat, which is in Gush Etzion, and we love it here.
    I hope you will love living in Karmiel.
    Welcome to Israel.
    Shoshana Shulman

    1. Hi, Shoshana, welcome to my blog, and thank you for your welcome of me! I also hope we love Karmiel – I’m very optimistic.

      Of course I know where Efrat is! You probably know our friends the Ormans.

  8. yeah Aviva; we can’t wait until you are here. It’s true, you will be far from us, but, in Israel, far is relative. It would be nice to meet in Jerusalem one day, or I’m sure we can figure something out. When is your date? ARe you going NBN? Chag Semeach, Sandra Orman

    1. It would be great to see you, Sandra! We’re planning to leave by mid August, but it could be sooner depending when we sell our house and find somewhere to live there. We’re toshavim chozrim, so we can’t go with NBN. But our oldest child will be a katin chozer, so he will go through NBN, and though we have to pay for our own tickets, if there are extra seats on a charter flight, we might be able to go on one with him (if we can’t fly together, we’ll go on whatever flight works best for us). I’m waiting for them to release the summer flight dates to see if one of those would work for us.

      Lots of things are still unsettled, but they’re coming together!

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