>>you mentioned that yad2 is in Hebrew; do you think that you could’ve managed all these purchases without the language skills, maybe just some broken phrases?<<
I think without Hebrew it would have been really intimidating to have gone through Yad2 or any other Israeli classifieds site. My Hebrew is okay, but I have an American accent and find it harder to communicate by phone – I was procrastinating about making calls at first because I felt self-conscious about speaking to a stranger on the phone in Hebrew. Then I told myself that people all over the world immigrate to different countries and have accents when speaking the language of their new country, so I shouldn’t be embarrassed.
But I did have one uncomfortable thing happen once! I called about a set of twin beds, and when the woman answered, said, “I’m calling about the beds you advertised on Yad2.” Sometimes people aren’t expecting a call about this and they for a minute aren’t sure what you’re referring to, so I wasn’t shocked when she said, “What???” I repeated myself, and the elderly woman said to me, “I can’t understand you, what language are you speaking??” I laughed and said, “Hebrew, I think!” At the end of the conversation she told me my accent is so heavy that she couldn’t understand what I was saying (while it’s clearly an American accent, relatively it’s not overwhelmingly strong), and while she surely didn’t mean it this way, I felt embarrassed. Generally Israelis compliment me on my Hebrew and ask me where in the US I’m from, but after hearing this for the next day felt very self-conscious when speaking to anyone in Hebrew. Then I called back the next day for someone and realized she has a hearing problem, so that helped me to put her comments into perspective!
I think if you don’t speak much Hebrew, you’d probably be able to browse the classifieds and try to decipher the descriptions, but when it comes to calling people about it, you’ll be best off with someone willing to speak to people to you. You’ll not only be asking specifics about the description of the item you’re interested in, but about making arrangements to see it, transport it, take it apart, addresses…you’ll want to be clear about what you’re saying, and know what they’re saying in response!
What I did in the US with Craigs List was to conduct most of this question/planning process by email, which was very efficient. But my computer isn’t yet set up to send Hebrew (anyone with tips on how to switch over, please let me know!), and though many Israelis speak and read English, I don’t feel comfortable emailing in English; I feel like it’s presumptuous.
I met someone from Poland who made aliyah a few days before us – the only family in all of Poland in the last year to make aliyah, actually! I asked her something at a bus stop, then we got into a conversation, and I told her when she was ready to buy furniture, that I would be happy to help her navigate the yad2 classifieds and could recommend someone affordable to help her get them home. She doesn’t speak or read Hebrew at all, but when she came over a couple of weeks ago (we had just gotten our internet hooked up a couple of days before that), I went through the ads of basic items she was interested in so that she could get an idea of what the prices were on those things, for the quality that interested her. She’ll be moving at the end of September from the absorption center and I told her to come back whenever she’s ready to do more focused looking.
People are willing to help but so far my experience is that you have to be very clear about what you need, because otherwise you don’t get any help, just lots of “Welcome, if there’s anything you need, let me know, have a good and easy adjustment.” It sounds nice, but it’s of no practical use at all, even if someone is well-intended and really means it. So let someone with the language skills know that when they have time, you’d appreciate a bit of help with this!