Ask the Aliyah Survivor


  1. Hi Jessica,

    I just want to thank you for sharing your link with the Otzma listserve. I’ve read a little bit of The Decision, but have to break to do some work.

    For what it’s worth, here’s another Zionist lover of Israel–warts and all–who is supportive and awed by your decision. I know how hard it was and is. Since struggling with my own Aliyah decision years ago, I’ve built my life around family in the States for whom Aliyah isn’t an option.

    I can’t say I regret the decision (you would understand if I could send you photos of my two kids), but it is one that I still struggle with. I love, live and breathe Israel. For me, she is more than a place to visit…I’m sure that you too have been perplexed by comments from people who say they’ve been there and want to travel to other places instead. She is the culmination of blood, sweat and tears from our ancestors all the way to her modern day members. No, she is absolutely not perfect. No question about it. But Israel is “us”.

    I’m anxious to return to finish reading The Decision, and to read that with which you follow up.


    Eric (Jake) Jacobson – Otzma VII

  2. Hi

    Read this blog and loved it. Just in the process of making up my mind whether to do aliyah or not, many reasons are the same as yours. However, what I haven’t been able to find out is how do you survive financially in Israel during Ulpan?

    Any ideas or pointers would be really great



    • The first few months can be financially difficult. There is no doubt that you will be leading a more “modest” lifestyle. That being said, there are a few solutions:

      1. Contact Nefesh B’Nefesh – They offer amazing financial support to new immigrants.

      2. Get a job – Ulpan is only part time and if you get a job, even as a waitress, you will get practice using your Hebrew.

      3. Live at the Ulpan – Ulpans are fairly cheap and you will meet a lot of other Olim, who often become some of your best friends. Plus the government will help you pay your rent at Ulpan.

      4. Live modestly and on your savings.

      5. Make sure to get all of your financial support from the Israeli Government and Absorption Ministry!

      6. Start a “Help me make Aliyah” Fund and ask your friends and family to contribute!

      • Hi,

        I am living in Belgium and I hold a dual citizenship (belgium/israeli) and I have a “ben mehagrim status’ that left israel at the age of 8.

        I am interested to make aliyah/ toshav chozer.
        I am 28 years old and i have 2 kids.

        Will I have to serve the army for a while you think?

        thx, Liran

      • No, you will not have to serve.

  3. Did you go to Israel with a profession or did you go there looking for something? How is employment for english speakers? Do you know anything about employment training programs? Any other insights you can offer related to this would be great.


    • I came to Israel right out of University, but had a profession in mind that I had some background in. I had never worked in the US and my only career experience is in Israel. There are work opportunities for English speakers in Israel, but the job market is tough and competitive. A lot of English speakers end up in marcom (marketing communication) positions at hi-tech companies, but there are also a lot of other professions. The salaries are not like those of the US.

      Both Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Merkaz Ha’magshamim offer advice and other support for job hunting. Also, check out my Useful Links Page, under the Employment Section to see what type of jobs are typically offered in Israel.
      One of the most important things to know about job hunting in Israel is to use any connection that you can! (Just like everything else in Israel.)

  4. Hey,

    My cousin has recently made aliyah and is now serving for the IDF. He really enjoyed his division but has recently finished training and has been transferred and is really unhappy with the new platoon. Do people making aliyah have a special way to transfer platoons or request a different position because they are there by choice?


    • Answer to Michael
      The key to surviving the army is not dodging bullets, it is actually learning to make the system work for you. Unfortunately, people that made aliyah do not have special rights in the army, but if your cousin is a lone soldier then he does can turn to his “mashak’ee’tash” which is sort of like a social worker for soldiers. However, your cousin should know that the most important thing in the army is not to give up. He has to make his point clear and be persistent that he wants to move. I DO recommend that he emphasize the fact that he made aliyah, choose to enlist in the army and try to take advantage of people’s weakness for lone soldiers – you’ve got to use whatever you have got in this country. Other than that, he should keep in mind that in the army, unless it is written, it does not exist – he should not simply settle for someone’s promise.
      Lastly and most importantly, the biggest lesson that I learned in the army is that if you manage to navigate through the army then surviving Israeli bureaucracy will be like a walk in the park.

  5. i made aliyah with my dog, leroy, last year. if anyone wants help/advice on doing it, feel free to email me. i’ll gladly walk you through it.

    • any advice on making aliyah with a dog?

    • Hi. I am thinking about making Aliyah with my dog, but am concerned about the trip as well as veteranary care. I was in Israel in december. Didn’t see many dogs in Jerusalem. More in tel aviv. Are some places more dog friendly?

      Look forward to hearing back.


      • Most religious neighborhoods are very dog UNfriendly. I adopted a dog and find that Tel Aviv is really one of the most dog friendly places with lots of dog parks.

      • Hey laura what did you do? With your dog? How its worked? ı will make the same? Any suggestion?

    • My dog and I want to make aliyah but we don’t really know where to start. I’ve started working on my Nefesh B’Nefesh application…but they ask where I want to live in Israel and I really don’t know. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

      • Stephanie, I don’t think that you need to decide where you want to live for the rest of your time in Israel. Just choose where you want to study Ulpan. Ulpan Etzion is in Jerusalem and is an intense 5 hour/5 day/5 month Ulpan which will really help you learn the language. There are also Ulpan’s in Kibbutzim and in Absorption Centers around the country. Another really popular one is the Ulpan in Tel Aviv which is less intense. I personally did Ulpan in Jerusalem and then moved to Tel Aviv. I highly recommend using the first few months of your time to really learn the language – it will help you with the rest of your aliyah.

      • But while you are at the Ulpan where would you live your dog?

      • If you live in a normal apartment versus the merkaz klita, this is not a problem

    • Miry, i want to make aliyah with my cat and dog, any recommendations will be a lot of help. Thanks!

    • Hey, i will make an aliyah with my dog too. Can you give me your email adress pls

    • I will make Aliyah from Sweden with my Israeli husband next spring. We have a small dog we wish to bring. What do we have to do, to bring him with us?
      Thanks/ Anna

  6. Miry can you email me, I have a few questions about making Aliyah with my dog! Email is

  7. Miry… I couldn’t imagine making Aliyah without my dog. Any advice would be wonderful!

  8. My son is planning to make aliyah and wants to study at IDC. Because its in English. He is worried it will be to hard to study in Hebrew. Is there a good program to attend for a year that will prepare him for studying in hebrew.?

    • As part of the Aliyah process, your son should receive 5 months of Ulpan from the government. I went to Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem, which is one of the more academic and intensive one. If he is in Tel Aviv, then there is also Gordon. Also, most schools have paid ulpan programs.

      Even though my Hebrew is nearly fluent, I decided to do my MBA program in English, because it still takes me longer to read and write in Hebrew. For me it was a decision between work and go to school in English or just go to school in Hebrew with no time to work . . . and then starve.

  9. Hi-

    My boyfriend and I are wanting to go to graduate school in Israel using the Nefesh b’nefesh program. My question is this: how do we apply for the housing subsidies and such if we want to live together but not get married? Is there a way? Can we each apply for the single status one and then use the money for the same apartment, or is that against the rules? I’ve had a lot of trouble finding information on this. Thank you!


    • Sorry, I’m not really sure how the housing subsidy programs work. I am sure they are different for each school.

      As far as rules in Israel, there is a joke that symbolizes what Israelis think about rules:

      Cop: You know you just made a u-turn right in front of me
      Driver: Oh, sorry, I didn’t see
      Cop: You didn’t see that huge sign?
      Driver: No, I didn’t see you

      Good luck!

  10. Jessica.! I run into your blog by pure accident and I loved it.
    I am not a menber of the jewish faith and being a gentile I
    can give you a different view of how the other side see this
    return to the promised land affair.! Most catholics are uneducated in this matter,it is not teached in schools and the
    word “Aliyah” for most young people is associated with a
    rock group,little they know about the meaning,sacrifices and hardships endure by those going back to Eretz Yisrael on their
    own freewill to face an uncertain and bleak future.Remarkable.
    I will be waiting for more of your posts.Your sense of humor
    is great and adds the spice and salt of a great recipe.
    Do you think the Pope will let us catholics “return” to the vatican someday? I don’t think so.. good job. keep it up..!

  11. Hi, I am looking to do Aliyah this year. However I would like to bring my girlfriend log with me as we are planning to one day marry (but not yet – we have been together for 6 years and been living together for a about 5 years).
    She is not Jewish though. Can she come with me? Can she work there? We are not looking for any benefits or anything, just the possibility for her to work as well

    Any help will be much appreciated

    Many thanks

    • Unfortunately this is a tricky situation and it continues to get trickier. She can most likely apply for a visa, but she will not get citizenship. The only way she can get citizenship is if she converts. She can convert with any type of rabbi abroad, but in Israel she can only convert with a Rabbinute rabbi. If she doesn’t want to convert, then she can get permanent residency by being your spouse.

      In regards to marriage, if she converts with an rabbi that is not approved by the Rabbinute, then she can not get married in Israel. However, there are also lots of problems with the Rabbinute conversions. For instance, they have been known to retroactively revoke conversions 20 years down the line because of internal politics or simple paperwork problems. There are additional issues with the marriage and the ceremony if you are a more progressive Jew as the Rabbinute ceremonies and contracts are very primitive . . . and just getting more and more primitive and extreme.

      In my opinion, I think the Rabbinute is a big mess and I would stay as far away from them as possible.

  12. Hi. Can someone help my wife and I. We were both raised nonreligious and did not no that we were Jewish. We did the traditional thing in England and had a beautiful white church wedding. Then some time later while researching the family I discovered that my mother was Jewish. For years we have felt a strong desire to make Aliyah. Last year we went to Israel. We left with an even stronger desire to be there. We felt like we had come home – it was most strange. Now in the process of Aliyah we have a marriage certificate which states we were married in a church – but we feel uncomfortable about that. We could get married again – but we just do not know what to do about this. Any advice please. Shalom.

    • Hi Eli,

      Well, you certainly have the legal right to become a citizen of Israel. The legal right of return definition is if you have one grandfather and grandmother who was Jewish. I’m not sure about your wife, but being your spouse she would at least of the right to residency.

      Unfortunately, since the Rabbinute still controls all marriages, your children would not be considered Jewish by them – since their definition of who is a Jew is quite different. This means that your children would not have the right to get married in Israel. This issues is now at the forefront of Israeli politics.

      I do have to say, that you might run into some problems with the immigration process and you might have a difficult time proving your Jewishness as I know the typical standards are showing a ketuba, marriage certificate, and a Rabbi’s letter attesting to your Jewish identity.

    • This is been happening for decades of folks becoming Enlightened to their Jewishness and if you believe or not, it stems from the heals of the Messianic Revelation that is spoken deeply of in Torah. Whether you are religious or non-religious is not the point, but the point is that it is happening and more-so today more than anything.

      Living in Jerusalem for sometime, I see this happening often to peoples all across the globe, i.e., the desire to convert once in Israel.
      Kolah Kavod and much happiness! Don’t let anything stop you!

      • Haha . . .The exact opposite happened to me. The more time I spent in Jerusalem, the less I wanted to be religious!

  13. Hello,
    First let me say that I really enjoyed reading your blog as I am in a similar situation as you. I will be graduating college this summer and I am seriously considering making Aliyah. I would be making this journey by myself with no family in Israel. What advice could you give on this? Do you have any regrets? Would I be able to put my degree to use in Israel (its in International Business Marketing and minor in Spanish). I think it will be easier for me to adapt to the non courteousness because I am from Philadelphia :).

    • My best advice is to just prepared for life to be hard from here on out and try to make the best of it. Try not to get aggravated at all the annoying stuff, because that is just how things are done in Israel.

      Israel is full of hi-tech companies and since the country is so small, they instantly have to market to the international community in order to be profitable. It sounds to me like you would make a great marcom (marketing communications) manager, which is one of the bigger and better jobs for English speakers.

    • Hi Greg I’m going through the same situtation now with no family in Israel and my family in America all think I’ve completely lost my mind. I was wondering how everything turned out for you and if everything worked out.

  14. Hi!
    Making aliyah this summer and wondering if you had any advice on what I should bring/leave behind. I heard cosmetics/medicines/appliances are expensive in Israel.

    • All of that is true, except medicines.

      Since health care is on a socialized system, you will be amazed at how low your co-pay is. It pays to get sick in Israel.

      Americans don’t know what they are missing!

  15. I have finished putting in my paperwork to NBN and will soon have the interview with the shaliach. I am really nerv. about that part. What could stop them from letting me make aliyah ? What is the interview process like? HOw long does it generally take to find out if I have been accepted? I leave for Israel for 5 months (volunteer trip , first time in Israel) in a little more than a month. Any tips/advice would be welcomed.

    • I think the main reason that they would stop you from going is not being able to prove your Jewish identity. Jewish identity can usually be proved by getting a letter from your rabbi and using your or your parents ketuba, marriage certificate.

      Nefesh B’Nefesh should handle all of the paperwork if you are from English-speaking country and they have great resources and people who can help lead you through the process.

      Any type of bureaucracy in Israel takes a long time. Always assume that things will take much longer than you think, and then add on another two weeks that estimate.

  16. hello!

    i’m gabriella from europe and i’m fighting with the decision of either making aliya and with it becoming olah chadasha, or rather trying out first the A1-visa-status and become temporary resident. my family advise against making aliya… so can you maybe help me with taking a decision wether or not making aliya or becoming a temporary resident?

  17. no questions…..just… thank you.

  18. What is required to get a drivers license in Israel?

  19. My husband is from Israel and we are thinking about moving back in a few months. My question is will my pets have to be quartined before I can take them into Israel with us?

    • Answer to Janet:
      On my Aliyah flight there were 8 cats and the woman bringing them over did not have a problem getting them in the country. I actually brought a dog from Israel to the US. I recommend getting your dog kennel trained months before the big move. Make the kennel a good experience and not one of punishment. Feed your dog in the kennel, give your dog treats in the kennel and maybe even get him used to sleeping in there. I did a lot of research before flying with my dog and the best recommendation I got was the following:
      1. Do NOT put your dog to sleep during the flight, this can increase the chances of him getting hurt when things move around.
      2. Put some piece of clothing in the kennel that smells like you. This is supposed to help comfort the dog.
      3. Put in some treats that they can play with.
      4. If your dog is prone to either throwing up in car rides or gets over anxious, you can ask your vet for anti-anxiety meds or anti-nausea meds.
      5. If you are putting your dog in the belly of the airplane, make sure the pilot is notified so that he will turn on the heat and the oxygen.
      6. Do some research about the best airline to take. I have heard that El Al is pretty good.

      Lastly, I recommend reading the following article from The Jerusalem Post:

  20. Hi Jessica,

    Are you still in Israel? I do not see any current writings but I can totally relate to being frustrated by the customer service in Israel, as well as the cultural adjustments to a completely different way of living. I am moving to tel aviv for a year and wanted to pick your brain, is there a way to be in touch?

    Your blog is amazingly witty and lovely!


  21. I read your story on and I am very sorry this happned to you. My mother is also a reform Jew so I feel like I won’t make aliyah to Israel because of your story and until the law is changed. I am deeply sorry to hear of your story.

  22. Hi Jessica,

    I have recently become interested in making Aliyah, but ethically I am unsure of whether I will proceed or not.

    Though I support Israel’s right to exist, I strongly disagree with the occupation and treatment of the Palestinians, and find major fault with the Law of Return and other policies favoring one group over another. Based on this you might call me anti-Zionist.

    However, I am enthically Jewish American, and the shoes fits, so I am thinking of wearing it. Meaning, making Aliyah for more experiential and opportunistic reasons, rather than spiritual or idealogical.
    I figure that if I don’t like the politics there, becoming a citizen and voting would be more constructive than criticizing it from afar.

    I do think Israel seems a beautiful and interesting place, and a fascinating culture that I’d like to discover, though I don’t see myself living there forever.

    Have you, in your aliyah experience, come across Olim with similar liberal views as mine? By web searching so far, it seems that most people who make aliyah are either very religious or staunchly Zionist, and like to live in the settlements. Is this true? I know there are a variety of opinions in Israeli culture, but will I find myself an outcast among the English speaking facet for my left wing views?

    I appreciate whatever you can tell me.



    • Kara,

      I am in exactly the same boat, and also contemplating Aliyah, despite (or perhaps because of) my “left wing” leniency. I have lived in Israel before as a student and found many like-minded Israelis, so don’t worry about that. (by the way I found this threat by searching “aliyah left wing”!! haha!

      I am making aliyah because I care about the country, and want to improve it for everyone – Jews, Muslims, Palestinians, Christians, Israelis, Ethiopians, Thai workers…bring it on. Israel needs more people like us!

    • Dear Kara,

      Let me put your mind at rest. You should know that there are no Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. They either live in Gaza, under Hamas or in the Palestinian Authority areas. Furthermore, you may wish to know that any time there is talk of land swaps or a Palestinian state and the like, Arabs in areas slated to be under Palestinian rule are desperate to get Israeli citizenship. I believe it’s called voting with one’s feet.

      I strongly encourage you to come to Israel, to learn Hebrew, and speak to a wide variety of people, because only here will you have a chance to discover the truth of the situation.

      Good luck.

  23. My son made aliyah this year and is trying to figure out what health plan he should choose. Is there a big difference in one from the other? He is single. Hes in good health. But he does need eye surgery to corect his vision in one eye . Thanks for any help you can give us.

    • Luckily, the health insurance in Israel is the one thing that is more advanced in Israel than in the US. The motto in the US might be “Give me your tired, your poor,” but there was never a line in there about giving them good health care after they got there. At least in Israel, tired and poor immigrants are promised a socialized health care when they arrive.

      While there are four large health insurance carriers in Israel, the only difference between them is their names: Clalit, General; Leumit, National; Maccabi, Maccabea and Meuhedit, Special. When I first moved there, I hoped that they put more thought into the health services than picking out the names. I played Eeny, meeny, miny, moe to pick one out.

      Clalit is probably the largest, so more facilities will accept it. Maccabi is also one of the larger ones. Meuhedit is one of the newer ones and is much smaller and a smaller percentage of doctors use it.

      The health insurances are mainly all the same, since the government sets the standard for the care and the drugs that are covered. That being said, everyone can upgrade their health care to a higher version, for instance, Maccabbi offers Maccabi Gold. I highly recommend upgrading. It doesn’t cost a lot of more money, but there are more benefits.

      Comparing health care in Israel to the health care in the US, I am always amazed about the cost difference, both in terms of drugs and actual health care. Of course, since the care is socialized and not private, it is a bit slower, but I still think that the quality of care is good. However the facilities are not what, us Americans are used to. Even though Israel is one of the leaders in medical technology, the medical facilities are not. A General Practioner has a room and a waiting room, no equipment and can not do any labs. The only tool that the GP has is a printer for writing prescriptions and referrals.

      I actually had knee surgery in Israel and was very happy with my surgeon.

      The best thing about Israeli health care is that there is no such thing as being rejected for pre-existing conditions.

      And, thanks to TEVA (the largest drug manufacture in the world and located in Israel), the drugs are cheap in Israel.

      Lastly, he should be able to get the first few months discounted or even possibly free, depending on what the Aliyah rights are these days. He needs to make sure to bring all the proper paperwork.

  24. I have similar question to Sarah, can you tell us what would be reasons they would reject an application?

    And what does it cost to make aliyah, NOT living expenses, NOT moving expenses, etc, ….specifically I want to know how much it cost for the actual visa application/approval/NBN shaliach process.

    • I think the main reason that they would stop you from going is not being able to prove your Jewish identity. Jewish identity can usually be proved by getting a letter from your rabbi and using your or your parents ketuba, marriage certificate.

      As far as costs, I made Aliyah nearly 10 years ago, so I don’t know what the costs are today. I recommend that you visit the NBN site for the most up to date information –

      • I can’t find information on costs for the application and paperwork process there, I only can find info on costs for living after arrival. Can you at least tell me what it cost you 10 years ago? Thank you.

      • I believe that the application fees through Nefesh B’Nefesh are $60. However, I am not sure what this application fee includes. I recommend that you get in contact with one of the nefesh b’nefesh representatives. They have so many great resources!

  25. One other thing–I have a tattoo. Can I be rejected for that?

    • NO! Israelis love tattoos! But might I recommend that you don’t make these tattoo mistakes –

  26. Answer to Gena:

    Since I did not make Aliyah with children, I can not give you much advise regarding this; however, I would get them started on Hebrew lessons so that they will have an easier transition. I would also start getting them mentally ready. Have you looked into apply for Nefesh B’Nefesh? Either way, Nefesh B’Nefesh should have great advise for families planning Aliyah as they have helped many families make Aliyah.

    To prepare, I recommend getting all of your families documents in order and making multiple copies – this will help you dealing with bureaucracy.
    Don’t expect to live the same standard that you live in US! Things are more expensive and you get paid less. The winters are not very cold, but the houses are built to keep the cool in and the heat out – so it feels colder. Many houses don’t have central heat or air, but the newer ones do. It is standard to have water heaters that you have to turn on before you need hot water – however, in the summer, most water heaters have a solar heater which saves energy and there are timers that can be used. There are 2 cable options – satellite and terrestrial cable – both have a lot of English stations.

    I’m not sure about the RN job market, but I have heard that there is a demand for nurses. It is important that you check what you have to do to get your license in Israel – so that you will be able to work as an RN.

    Hope this has been helpful. Good luck with your Aliyah process!

  27. I received the following question from Eli:

    My girlfriend is coming to live with me she is Jewish and wants to learn Hebrew. What is the easiest and cheapest way?
    Answer to Eli:
    Ulpan is a great way to learn Hebrew in a systematic way. If you are in Jerusalem, then Ulpan Etzion is best. Etzion is known to be a more academic Ulpan. If you are in Tel Aviv then Gordon is the most popular. Universities also offer Ulpans. You can also inquire about a personal tutor, typically placing an announcement on jaanglo or taanglo is a good way to find a good tutor. Lastly, is practice! Tell your girlfriend not to be afraid to make mistakes and speak in public. Another great way to practice reading is to buy Sha’ar L’matchilim – which is a newspaper for beginners. This newspaper provides Hebrew at all levels and is a great way to get a weekly news update in Hebrew and get some new vocabulary. You can typically buy this newspaper at different kiosks and central bus stations. B’Hatzlacha!

  28. I received the following question from Rosemary:
    “Have any of you brought your dog from the U.S. to Israel? If yes, how did the dog do? Was the dog mildly sedated and had to ride in a cage in the luggage compartment underneath the plane? Is it cold in that compartment? Are any dogs allowed to ride (sedated) in their crate in the passenger area?

    We also hear from bloggers that there is some financial help to Olim for the airplane ticket to Israel. Is this true for everyone or only for those who qualify due to lower income? We make enough money and do not qualify for any assistance but we live modestly and don’t have a lot left over. Is there an agency who will help financially to get us and our stuff to Israel? Is there any help for the pilot trip that is required by NB’N? Perhaps there are some free or low cost hotel rooms for people on their pilot trips? Any information would be helpful. Thanks”

    Answer to Rosemary:
    A woman on my flight brought 9, yes 9 cats! I will be writing more about that experience during the next few posts. Her cats were in the passenger compartment. (I remember Nefesh B’Nefesh checking with everyone to ensure that no one had allergies.) I do not know the exact rules as to bring dogs on El Al planes, but I have seen dogs, large dogs, traveling on El Al with their owners. Large dogs are typically in the bottom part of the airplane. I do not know the specific regulations. Nefesh B’Nefesh should be able to tell you more about this. I also recommend talking to your vet and El Al (as all Aliyah flights are through El Al).
    In response to your question regarding the flight: Last I heard, The Jewish Agency does pay for your flight to Israel when making Aliyah and the connecting ticket from where you live (if on the same day). There are also many other benefits that you are eligible for as a new Oleh, including, as I last heard, a trip from the airport to your new residence. I recommend being in touch with Nefesh B’Nefesh to get the most updated information. Nefesh B’Nefesh is a great resource and I recommend using them.

  29. I received the following question from Daniel:

    “Jessica just joined am reading your blog love it. i am in the early stages but when i read you left your pets are you forbidden from bringing them. I have a little pekingese whom I adore. she is my family I could not leave her. There must be some way of bring pets. I lived abroad for many years and we were allowed to bring them, there was of course paperwork and sometimes a quarantine period. Please get back to me. Thank you for your time and insight. Mazel tov! as well.”

    Answer to Daniel:

    My pets were technically my parents’ pets and they would much rather part with me, their daughter, than with their pets.

    You are allowed to bring pets on Aliyah. There is of course, paper work involved – as there is with anything in Israel.

    So don’t worry, you don’t have to leave your furry loved ones behind!

    Hope to see you and your pekingese in Israel soon. Good luck with your Aliyah!

  30. Shalom,
    Me and my wife are Toshavim Chozrim(Returning Citizens), in the process of returning Home.
    Our biggest concern our two dogs, one is almost 14 yr old, and another is shihtzu, 9.5 yr old.
    If anyone recently brought pets to Israel, please could you email me at: zall AT rogers DOT com

    There are new regulations since May 2010, that scare me. Looks like they do blood samples, quarantine, and who know what else…I still can not figure out.
    Toda Raba!

  31. Amazing blog! I can’t wait to see the rest of the posts!

    I wanted to ask you a question. I am deciding to make aliyah this summer and have a question about Ulpan. I was considering the one you went to, Ulpan Etzion. How does it work? Do you live there and only take classes in the morning? I am looking to get a professional engineering job when I’m there, is it best to perhaps wait until I am done with Ulpan or is it very easy to coordinate with a 9-5 job? Also do you have to pay rent at Etzion or is that taken care of as part of the paid Ulpan?


    • Hi Daniel,

      You don’t have to live at Etzion, you can live in an apartment outside of the ulpan. I actually lived at Merkaz Hamagshamim. There were lots of people that lived at Ulpan and made some really good friends there. There were also people that lived outside. I heard that living at the ulpan was a lot like living in a college dorm room – in terms of the noise.

      As far as timing, ulpan is 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 5 months. I personally recommend dedicating the time to really learning the language in the beginning, because that is when you will really learn the most. Most people that don’t get a good base in the beginning, end up never learning. You can always look for a job while you are studying.

      I’m not up to date about the costs of ulpan. When I was there, I am pretty sure that the government paid for rent. I would check at the ulpan link that I have on the useful links page.

  32. I made aliyah in 2009, but I met an American man , got in love and got married last year in USA. I don´t live in Israel now, but my daughter does and I want to visit her once or 2 a year. Do I have to tell the government I´m living now in USA and that or the moment we are not planning to come live here?
    Please send me a reply on where, how, etc.

    • Yes, it is very important to let the government know that you don’t live in Israel anymore because the second you step in the country or want to leave, you might face problems. Specifically with Bituach Leumi. The government will claim that you owe them the back payments for the Bituach Leumi. I’ve heard of people that aren’t allowed to leave Israel until they make their payments.

  33. Hi Jessica:
    I am 22 years old and have lived in Israel for a total of 2.5 years. I am now back in the USA and have a 90 lb German Shepherd. I am considering making aliyah, but definitely not without him. How did your dog cope with the long flight? Just the thought of it makes me so nervous. Thanks,

    • Margaret,

      I completely understand. I think it was harder on me than on my dog! I tried to kennel train my dog – i.e. feed him in the kennel, give him treats in the kennel so that he didn’t get freaked out by it.

      The best advice I got was to NOT give him any type of anesthetic, because if the kennel moves around at all, then they could get hurt since they don’t have the capability to brace themselves. I did give my dog an anti-anxiety and an anti-nausea pill, which kind of knocked him out. I gave him some treats in a treat ball. I also put in an old shirt of mine since someone told me that my smell would keep him calm. However, the one problem was water. I had a big hamster type bottle, that he didn’t know how to use and the bowl waters spill.

      Also, look at the response I gave to Janet up above.

      He was out of it for a day or so, but did just fine. And in all reality, he had more room in his kennel than I did in my airplane seat!

      Best of luck!

  34. I recently made Aliyah as an Ezrach Oleh. About 7 years ago I spent a year and a half as a student in israel. About 6 months into my studies I went to extend my student visa and was told that since my parents are Israeli I need an Israeli passport which I got. Now after making aliyah Bituach Leumi is telling me I owe them 6000 shekels for the year and a half I was here and the benefits i was entitled to. I never knew I had bituach leumi benefits and paid the whole year and half for private health insurance. Must I pay them?

    • Here is the thing about Israel, as long as you are willing to put up a fight, you can accomplish anything. You will have to keep going up the totem pole and keep fighting your battle, but the likelihood is that you will be able to get that payment cancelled. As far as I know, that if you put your Bituach Leumi on hold, you have to wait for 6 months after you get back into the country to re-start your rights. See why this doesn’t apply. Also, check with Nefesh B’Nefesh about this . . . Whatever, you do, the main key to success in Israel is don’t stop fighting until you get what you want!

  35. okay, so i am a 21 year old man from new jersey. I have never been to Israel, i dont practice the jewish religion but my grandmother and her parents and so on were jewish. But i want to serve Israel and join the IDF. Is it possible? and how would i go about doing it? like what would be the first step?

    • Before you make such a big step, I recommend that you spend some time in Israel. Maybe go on Birthright or spend a semester abroad at one of the universities in Israel. Or you could even do Ulpan there to learn some Hebrew. However, there is a program called Mahal – This program allows non-Israeli citizens to volunteer for the Israeli army.

  36. Hi
    My wife (from Rishon), my kids (13, 9 and 4 B”H) and I (English) are hoping to make Aliyah in about 10 months time – the kids are fluent in Ivrit but I can’t speak nor understand it – all I can do is daven in Hebrew.
    We think we want to live in Ra’anana. Schools: we want da’ati (Bnei-Akeiva socially) but with a real emphasis also on the secular curriculum and studies – we want a school with a very good academic status. Good sports facilities would be good but it’s my understanding that sports activities are for after-school.
    Although the kids are fluent (our 4 year old is not proficient yet), studying in Ivrit in schools will be different to chatting with friends so we want a school that has experience of Englsih-speaking Olim Chadishim (correct Ivrit?).
    If we were going to live in Yerushalayim, we’d want to go to see the Hartman boys school and the Hartman girls’ school – are there any schools like Hartman in the Ra’anana area?
    Thank you – Shana Tova and wishing you all well over the Fast.

    • James, I don’t have any kids, so I can’t really tell you about which school is best for your family . . . You should get in touch with Nefesh B’Nefesh and they can probably put you in touch with some other families that have been in the same situation as you. But, be careful . .. your kids will learn Hebrew much more quickly than you and will be able to talk behind your back while in front of your face quicker than you think. Best of luck.

  37. Thnx – they already can! As my wife speaks to them in Ivrit, they are fluent – they can ALL speak without me understanding a word. If we end up in Raanana, very possible that that situation wont change….but I will learn.
    Shana Tova and all the best over the Fast.

  38. Hi Jessica,

    I am a 22 year old from Europe,thinking about making aliyah with my boyfriend. Actually,i already made aliyah years ago with my parents,i lived in Israel for 10 years as a child but moved back home when i was 13(9 years ago). My boyfriend and I are planning to get married before we move to Israel next year,but since he is not Jewish,would marrying me make him a citizen and ole chadash? How long would he have to serve the army,being a 23 year old?

    Thank you in advance,


    • Maya,

      Unfortunately I do not have the answers to these questions. I do know that the husband of anyone considered Jewish by the State of Israel does have the right to live there. I have a feeling that he will NOT have to serve in the army at all. However, I think for the most accurate information you should check with your country’s shaliach.


  39. Hi Jessica,

    We are planning on making aliyah in Dec with our pets; and have to admit that it seems nearly impossible to find accommodation that is pet friendly; we opted to find a long term rental apartment but think now we will have to opt for a week or two in a pet friendly hotel. Do you know why they dont allow pets on the kibbutzim?

    As excited as we are to come to Israel – the thought of having to leave our dear animals behind is just not an option….


    • It is hard to find places that accommodate animals. Most people just go ahead and have pets either way. Remember, your moving to Israel – rules are only suggestions. Kibbutzim stopped allowing pets because so many people drop off pets there . . . it is more of a rule, just in case. I had a pet on a kibbutz, even though I technically wasn’t supposed to have a dog. I don’t think you have to leave your pets behind, but you will have to search around. Maybe offer to pay extra for your pets if you aren’t comfortable with bending the rules.

  40. Folks – Shalom –
    I made Aliyah years ago and then return to the states to take care of my sick mother. I hold a Teudat Zeut and would like to return permanently. Are there any considerations I need to know about?

    Thank you!

    • When you left you needed to cancel your bituach leumi. There is a chance that if you didn’t they will make you back pay. When you get back, you will have to re-activate your bituach leumi and there is is usually a 6 month waiting period.

  41. Thank you! I am not sure if I did, for I have been gone for about 7 years now. I have contacted the Shliach to determine what benefits, if any (or deficits if applicable) that I may have!

    Thank you!

  42. Any recommendations on how to prepare ourselves – we are planning Aliyah in 3 months.

    • Make a lot of copies of all of your documents . . . i.e. birth certificate, ketuba, degrees, etc . . . Also, find a good book to start so that you have something to read in all of the lines.

  43. Preparation for aliya,

    1. Contact Nefesh B’Nefesh regarding any assistance, ulpan, employment prospects and residence location.

    2. Hebrew: Learn as much Hebrew as you can before you come so that you can start a higher level ulpan.
    The key is exposure. Listen to Hebrew songs, radio and audiobooks, even if you can’t understand. It will improve your ability to learn later on. Look on the Nefesh b’Nefesh site There are tons of online resources. Spend a few weeks mainly listening. Then do a course, eg, Pimsleur style, audio and repeat for basic conversations.

    And not exactly in answer to your question, but anyways, it is really important to make the most of your ulpan period, not just doing the homework, but listening and speaking as much as possible outside of class, and not just hanging out with all the othe Anglos. And if possible try to find an ulpan with a low teacher-student ratio.

    3. Mental preparation: throw out the stereotypes, have low expectations, and an attitude of gratitude. Every new immigrant has a crazy story with Israeli bureaucracy. It will happen at some point. Hopefully just knowing that will ease the culture shock somewhat.

    4. Figure out approximately what size accommodation you will be living in and whether all your possessions will fit into it. Some olim told me that as their lift would be so expensive it would be cheaper just to buy everything new. This could be a good time to downsize possessions, and just bring the things you truly value.

    4. Make tons of money!

  44. I was wondering, I’m an Oleh and came back to the US to marry my fiance and spend a year together on schlicut. When we head back to Israel i.e. when she makes the aliyah process, will she lose benefits because she is already married to a citizen?
    Thanks so much for this wonderful blog

    • It might impact her rights a little. I certainly wouldn’t put it past Israel! Her ma’anak might be less or something like that. Check with your shaliach or nefesh b’nefesh. Let us know what you find out too! I’m curious if it pays to marry an Israeli! 😉

  45. how can i make aliyah? where do i start? can we at least be migrant workers? what if we cant get a passport?PLEASE HELP US!!!!???

    • I suggest you visit before you make a decision to move to Israel. Maybe participate in a long-term program.

  46. I adopted my son as a single mother before his Bar Mitzvah and he had an Orthodox conversion. His legal birth certificate (U.S.) only has my name on it since I adopted him as a single parent. I am Jewish by birth. My son is now 23 and has been in Israel for 6 months as a volunteer on a Kibbutz. He is planning to make Aliyah. What documentation will be required to prove his Judaism?

    • You will need a letter from the Rabbi that converted him. This should be enough for him to get citizenship under the law of return. In order to have full rights and to be considered Jewish by the Rabbinute, then the Rabbi that converted him needs to be approved by the Rabbinute. The Rabbinute is very strict and does not except all or even most Orthodox rabbis. If this is a major concern, then he can go through a conversion in the army. There was a law passed that says that the Rabbinute MUST accept IDF conversions.

  47. Hi

    Our Aliyah schliach has advised us to buy a car tax free in Europe and import it into Israel and then pay the 75% tax rather than buying it in Israel with the reduced tax – aparently, lots of paperwork but as my wife is Israeli (so is a returnee, not an oleh – should I be spelling that differently as feminine?), she’ll be able to understand and cope with all of it – thoughts/comments?



    • There are a lot of other things to consider, besides just the horrible bureaucracy of importing a car. The cost of shipping, if repair shops will have the right parts, how long it will take to order and ship, being able to drive the car before buying it, etc . . .If the only reason you are buying and importing is to avoid paperwork, I don’t know if I would recommend that, because paperwork is going to be a part of your life once you are in Israel . . . you might as well get used to it!

  48. i converted to conservative over a year ago .if i make aliyah and six months after making aliyah i get married to a convert .is my spouse intitled to what i have would he be automatically a citizen because of me

    • Converts are entitled to the right of return and the right to citizenship in Israel. So, anyone who has converted to Judaism will be able to make Aliyah to Israel. However, I believe that you need to live in your community for a year before making Aliyah – but this may be only with Rabbinute approved conversions. The other thing to take into consideration is that only Rabbinute approved converts can get married in Israel. So, you will have to get married either with a civil wedding or Cyprus or a religious wedding in another country. There are many organizations that are fighting to change this law.

      Spouses of Israeli citizens are entitled to immigration, but I am not sure if they are entitled to citizenship or simply permanent residence status.

  49. Thanks but I meant that there’s more paperwork if importing but we were told that it’s worth the pain of the paperwork and the inconvenience of importing as the saving can be substantial.

  50. Dear Survivor,

    Here’s my main Aliyah issue so far:
    My mom converted and I have the rabbi’s letter attesting to it. My dad is born Jewish, from a Jewish mother. When I started to be observant, the rabbis here told me that, although I was technically Jewish, I still had to go through a conversion process, just to make sure. Which I did and I have a certificate to prove it. It’s been less than a year and I heard that if we make Aliyah on our conversion process instead of going through the “my dad is Jewish” route, they could ask for an extra year of living in a Jewish neighborhood. What do you suggest?
    Thanks a million,

    • Yael,

      You are partially correct.

      You are considered Jewish enough to make aliyah, just by the fact that you have one grandfather or grandmother who is Jewish. The issue of the conversion that will arise is in terms of getting married, having children and burial, as these are life cycles that the Rabbinute has complete control over in Israel. If your conversion was not done by a Rabbi that is approved by the Rabbinute, then you will not be able to get married in Israel.

      You will have to decide if you want to have a marriage within the Rabbinute. There are many people who consider this important and there is increasingly amount of people who are choosing to opt out of a Rabbinute marriage and decide to get married abroad as they do not approve of the religious control over the government, basic human rights and Judaism. You will then of course have to weigh this with your desire to make aliyah now versus later, if you do have to wait another year.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  51. Q: Does anyone know of a good, real estate site in Israel that I can research apartments in Jerusalem and Tsefat?

  52. Any benefits for renting in the first year? thnx!

    • Rent subsidies from the government as part of your Aliyah package

  53. Dear Survivor,

    I am 16 years old, Jewish, and I wish to make aliyah into Israel. If I make aliyah into Israel would I have to join the IDF?

    • Yes, you would have to join the IDF. If you make Aliyah at age 16, you would have to join for three years. The older you are when you make Aliyah, the more years you have to serve. However, I don’t think of it as “have to”. The army is a great experience and will very much help you with your Aliyah process, meeting friends, learning the language and even finding jobs in the future . .. Some of my best years in Israel were during my army service.

  54. i am in the process of applying thru NBN have submitted the Rabbis letter for proof of Jewishness and other stuff

    I am interested in the GoNorth prorgram

    anyways i received a very nosey e-mail the other day and asking me about myself etc
    i answered honestly

    as i am a 57 y/old woman on SSD I feel i am being discouraged from applying as i received an e-mail back telling me i MUST have previous Israel experience which i know is BS in order for NBN to assist me financially or be approved for the GoNorth program

    ever heard of this nonsense

    so i have been kvetching to anyone that will listen and even filed a complaint w/the ombudsmen @Jewish Agency which i am sure goes straight to NBN based on the NJ area code

    anyways needless to say i am very upset this is not a decision based on my application as my application is not complete

    i am reminded of all the Russian and Ethiopian they have funded to make Aliyah and certain none of them have made a pilot trip nor have any source of income

    i am very pissed at the hypocrisy and at the same time very concerned

    i am a US citizen living on the frontera of Costa Rica @ the border of Panama which is not a nice place to live

    Costa Rica contrary to what the tourisim industry would have u believe is a very dangerous place for a gringa to live and certainly not for a Jew there is a lot of crime directed at us

    it is so bad that i can not leave my house unnattended for even a few days

    anyways in checking my e-mails i can see no response

    • I am not sure what the rules are right now, but I do remember that NBN did ask for previous Israel experience. Have you ever done a group trip to Israel? Like for instance an Agency trip? You can see if that counts?

      • Is a pilot trip an absolute pre-rquisite? I had my interview in August, the man said everything was fine, then just today told me my app still hadn’t been processed and he wants a pilot trip first, which throws off my whole schedule, asI’d been aiming for a January aliyah with my son. Can they absolutely insist on forcing me to do this trip first, if so, do you see any documentation where this rule exists?


  55. I am 17 years old and I’m not Jewish but I want to serve in the IDF. Would I have to go through the conversion process and make aliyah into Israel before I join the IDF? And for whatever it is worth, I would be joining when I’m about 19 or 20…

  56. I am an American Jew (Dad’s side), and 26 years old, with no immediate family in Israel (lone soldier). I want to make Aliyah, and I heard military service isn’t often required for my age, but if I am gonna get the benefits of citizenship, I want to do my part and be ready to defend the state like everyone else. I’m excited to learn Hebrew and get trained, (I’ve gotten in best shape of my life, and starting Hebrew lessons.) I keep hearing this “required six months.” Where is this number from… Is this the 3 months basic and 3 months combat training or warfare training? I know most Israeli’s do 2 or 3 months of border duty on top of that as part of their training, and can I sign up for that after initial training if my Hebrew is only from the IDF ulpan program? also, anyone know how long that program will take to get me ready enough to enlist?

  57. no have never nor could i ever afford a trip like that anymore personally i do not believe that visiting guarantees that you will like living in the place

    at this point i am so turned off at the way i have been treated and now i remember why i would not like to live there this is just a taste of things to come not once has anybody answered a single question that i have asked very disrespectful

    when i was younger i was asked if i would like to visit israel and i always declined

    it is a very dangerous place to live there are roadside bombings markets and busses get bombed

    sorry i do not want to take risks like that

    • Well, in order to make it in Israel, you would certainly need a lot more determination than this. If you are going to let a few bureaucrats push you around, then you probably wouldn’t make it in the country. Best of luck wherever you end up!

      • boom! Roasted!…

        just kidding. If I hadn’t met the awesome people that I met while I was there I wouldn’t want to move either, but I met some of the coolest, most interesting individuals and saw the most significant sights of my life in less than a couple weeks.

        Also Nancy, as for never having been and not being able to afford it, if you are at least able to claim some Jewish blood (I’m Jewish on my father’s side, which isn’t even the “right” half) and are under 27, you qualify for the “birth right” trip. its FREE, and as someone who had never been, I was shocked that it WASN’T a big desert that was constantly exploding and otherwise filled with aggressive people. Even if you are older, there are some trips they offer. Seriously, I had to be talked into it over years and now that I finally went I had one of the best experiences of my life, and it’s too early to say, but it may have been a life changing experience for me.

        Just to let you know, I’m only half Jewish, and otherwise a dirty white boy from California who went to a Catholic High school, was never bar mitzfahed
        (not baptized either, so relax… orthodox people). I worked for an American Israeli who was down right mean, rude and insulting and he formed my main impression of the people, and I went only know a few dirty words in Hebrew, and I had an absolute blast. Seriously recommend looking into it if you haven’t been and you feel that strongly about it. You won’t get blown up, I promise!

        Also Can anyone answer my question at the bottom of the IDF page on this site?

        last one by same name.

  58. it is not about making it in israel

    i have lived all lover the world

    it is about making a choice

    and what about all the bombings

    that is just one of the practical aspects of;
    life i need to remind my self of

    they will never stop

  59. Thanks for making this blog, its excellent. I was in Israel for the last 4 months when I came back to NY my mind was in one place and my heart was in another. Instantly I did my research, found out about nefesh b nefesh, I filled out the application with them, went on my appointment and everything. They told me that because my parents immigrated to the United states from the Soviet Union I need ALL of the documents from the soviet union and they sent me a booklet in russian that my parents filled out and after organizing my friends to do a search through thousands of my parents original documents I found EVERYTHING they needed down to a copy my grandmother todat zeyut in israel. I cant wait anymore, how long does it take to get the approval after you submit all your documents? The Jewish agency told me they submitted everything and when I ask them how long it would take all I get every time is “be patient sasha, be patient” ITS DRIVING ME CRAZY. I have my girl waiting for me in Israel and her birthday is in March is it possible that this whole thing can be done by then?

  60. Hi, I am an American male in my senior year of electrical engineering studies considering aliya. I will be applying to a graduate program in Israel for next year. I did a semester abroad at the Technion and my Hebrew is fluent, so I don’t think I would need to sit in an ulpan. If I don’t get in to a graduate program do you think it would be hard to get a job right away? I will have to do 6 months army service either away, and I’m scared of the prospect of not having a job.

    • There are lots of different job sites that you can try. You can check out Israemploy. But there are plenty of others, like on news sites. Your fluency in Hebrew will definitely be an asset to you. Israel has a very big hi-tech sector, so your skills will be in demand. My personal experience in Israel has been that finding a job in Israel is no harder than finding one abroad. However, connections help! So, build up a network and leverage it. Also, as a new immigrant, you will have lots of financial support from the government. Good luck.

      • Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate the work you are doing. I suppose I should get in touch with the Jewish Agency or NBN, but one more question. Does it make any sense to apply to jobs pre-aliya?

  61. Hi,

    My wife made Aliyah about 2.5 years ago and we then spent about 1 year living in Israel. Subsequently, we returned to the states (with plans to return this summer). I received bad advice about Bituach Leumi. Someone told me that they will know I left and freeze our payment obligations (I believe they did freeze paying benefits to us). Now, there is a lien on our Bank account and we owe a lot of money.

    What’s the best way to approach this issue? What’s the official policy about leaving the country for extended periods? Is there such a thing as freezing?


    • If the froze it, then you shouldn’t owe anything, but there is a waiting period. You are just going to have to fight it. I personally think it is a policy of the Bituach Leumi to “accidentally” mess up the paperwork so that they can try and collect money.

  62. Folks – I am returning to Israel after making AliYah about 12 years ago, when I needed to return to the states to care for my parents. When I return, what is the best way to exchange dollars for NIS? Shall I use ATM’s for the conversion each time I want NIS? I collect a pension from the US which is direct-deposit into one of two accounts, Wachovia and Bank of America,


    • You will see a lot of charges that way. I suggest doing a transfer . . .

    • ATM charges and charges for converting your dollars to NIS . . . Versus transferring a large amount of money and converting it all together, i.e. monthly or something like that.

      • You suggest opening a bank account in Israel and depositing large amount of US dollars associated with an Israeli ATM bank card? When you say “transfer,” do you mean some time of electronic transfer from my local account into the Israeli account.

      • Yes.

    • Be informed! There are fees for the transfer from bank to bank as well (usually at both ends, unfortunately!), plus the fee for converting the funds from $s to NISs, but overall, it will be cheaper than the fees you will encounter by trying to use an ATM each time you need money. It’s a good idea to watch the conversion rate and try to time your transfers (other than whatever monthly one you set up) so that you get the best exchange rate. GOOD LUCK!

  63. Hey! Im currently in the process of making Aliyah with NBN and hopefully will be in Israel next September. My parents are putting a lot of pressure on me not to do combat and my mother gets very emotional when I even slightly imply doing combat and I’m worried to put my parents through that much stress for 3 years. So first, do most male Olim/Israelis go to combat units and since I am a trained medic I’m wondering if there is a job in the army where I can use my skills without being in combat? Thanks!

    • Unfortunately, the army doesn’t care that much about what your mom is worried about. They care about what you can offer the army. However, your question is not as straightforward as you might think. It will depend on a few factors, i.e. How old are you? The older you are the less time you will have to serve in the army. Some people only do three months (shlav bet). What is your medical profile? You may not be eligible for a combat position (kravi). So, you might be a medic in an office. Are you an only son? Then the mother has to give permission to allow you to be in a combat position.

      • John your better off in a combat unit rather than a jobnik, a lot more satisfaction and a lot more to talk about for the rest of your life. The first time you throw a handgranade, “prat – esh esh ! the marches when your samal has to help out cause you and your mates cant be arsed. If you were very clever say nothing at the start about being a medic and get sent on a medics course after basic training, you then miss a good chunk of advanced training.

  64. Sorry your feeling was opposing to what’s happening all over this world. Maybe it is not time for your personal awakening.

    • Personal awakening?! Give me a break! Becoming more religious does NOT meant that you had a personal awakening. It often means the opposite . . . No need to feel sorry. I took the right path for me and am happy with my decisions. Look at what is going on today in the religious communities in Israel . . . spitting on women, calling little girls sluts, forcing women in the back seats, not joining the army, leaching off the government and hard working citizens. No thanks!

      • Unfortunately you are viewing it incorrectly, yes, true these things exist in these “fringe” groups of so-called Ultra-Orthodox, however, if you investigate main stream ChaBaD and Breslev Chassidim, this do not exist at all.
        In other words, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
        I lived in both Tzefat and Jerusalem in very religious communities away from these fringe groups and the joy of being a Jew is indescribable, especially a Torah Jew.

        But in any event, a religious discussion was not my point, my point being that an “awakening,” is taking place for those that lived like gentiles, even gentile names and religious artifacts are now being “awakened” to their Jewish Roots! What’s amazing is that this is direct prophesy from Torah!

        Have a nice day!

      • I don’t know your personal experience, which is why I’m refraining from commenting on it, but neither do you know other peoples’ stories, so please do not feel free to comment on what leads them to Torah and mitzvot. Your comment is very rude, and full of incredible prejudice.

        Look at what is going on in the secular community in Israel, at least 20% of women in the secular army suffer from sexual harassment, women are objectified in secular advertising as mere sex objects, secular models are treated without any respect, women can’t break through the glass ceiling in predominantly secular companies, and so it goes on. I hope that in any case you don’t need them, but should you, I assume that you won’t be using the services of Yad Sarah, Zaka and many other volunteer organisations founded by religious people to service everyone in Israel.

        I could write much more, but I have to get back to my job.

  65. My wife and I have been considering aliyah for some time, and are getting serious about processing our paperwork. Without knowing the exact timing of our emigration from the US, and also being unclear as to whether or not we will retain residences in both countries, I have a couple of questions: If we simply process our aliyah paperwork, then put it on hold once approved until we decide to emigrate from the US to Israel, is there a life expectancy on the paperwork that would cause it to expire, if we do not trigger the Ole Certificate? With that question, does the aliyah benefits time clock begin with the approval of the aliyah package, or with the issuance of the Ole Certificate?

    • I believe it only starts ticking once you get there, but there really isn’t any benefit to starting the process before you are sure.

  66. Hello again, just a follow up question from February 14: Perhaps some of the terminology I’m using is not entirely correct, but what does “once I get there mean”? In other words, if I process my aliyah paperwork, isn’t it correct that it is not “perfected” for making aliyah until I actually obtain the Ole Certificate upon entry? In other words, I could process my aliyah application, go to Israel for a few weeks on vacation, and not obtain my Oleh Certificate and the aliyah would still not be perfected? I ask this because I’m trying to still figure out the time clock. It would seem that entry alone into the country with an approved application does not start any sort of time period without the Ole Certificate. Being the sort of person that likes to have things processed and put aside when I have the time to do it (making aliyah is not short of paperwork), I would like to get the application part of this complete and sitting for when we would physically like to move there, full or part time. So applications don’t go stale? I appreciate your comments.

    • You get a visa stamped into your American passport, so if you go to visit, there is a chance that the time will start ticking on your aliyah rights.

  67. Hello, I saw that to prove that you are Jewish under the Law of Return you need your parents Ketubah. My mother was not Jewish and my parents did not have a Jewish wedding. I doubt anyone in my family has my grandparent’s Ketubah. I have been extremely active in Jewish campus life at my college and am seriously considering making aliyah after college. Is there any other way I could prove that I am Jewish under the Law of Return? Do I have to convert in order to get the documents needed to qualify to make aliyah?

  68. Jen, you can just get a letter from a Rabbi saying that you are Jewish, in fact the Misrad Hapnim generally prefer that over a Ketubah.

  69. In matter of fact, the Law of Return was modified so that people whose mother was not Jewish could return. An orthodox Rabbi would say that someone whose mother was not jewish is not jewish. Reform Rabbis would say that only one parent has to be Jewish. The Law of Return follows the Reform point of view.

    • Actually, a Jew was always defined by the Law of Return as someone having one Jewish grandparent. This is the definition the Nazis used for persecuting Jews and Ben Gurion wanted to make sure that anyone who could have been persecuted by the Nazis would have a safe haven.

  70. Congratulations on your blog. Do you know if there are enough places in Merkaz Klita for 45-year-old singles? During the Alyah process, should I pass a psychological and medical test? I have many doubts. I live in Argentina, I am Jewish and I studied Hebrew for 10 years. Thanks in advance and regards, Malka

    • There might be room, but I would highly recommend against it in most cases. There are two types of Merkaz Klitah’s: 1. The ones with 20-somethings that treat it like a college dorm 2. The ones with families and young kids running around. However, you would only be there for 5 months and it does help you save money. And, many people make some of their closest friends there.

  71. I love the life and culture of Tel Aviv and am considering making aliyah. However, I am completely secular. My mother’s parents were married by a Reform rabbi 85 years ago and buried in a Jewish cemetery. However my mother was raised a Christian as was I (although I’m an atheist now). Will this create problems for me in the aliyah process, particularly since the Reform temple associated with my family (where presumably I would need to get documentation) wouldn’t necessarily see me as Jewish?

    • In order to make Aliyah to Israel, you have to have proof that one grandfather or grandmother is Jewish. However, if you can’t find a Rabbi that will support your move to Aliyah to Israel, then you might have some problems. I’m sorry that I can’t give you a more specific answer. That being said, you will have problems with marriage in Israel as there is a different standard for proving your Jewishness.

      The thing about Israel is that so much of being able to appreciate the culture, at least in my opinion, is understanding Judaism. I would recommend maybe trying to learn more about Judaism, just so that you can get a better understanding. And trust, me, I’m the last person to push religion on anyone! I just think you might be able to appreciate the culture better and also be able to make a more informed decision about such a big step.

  72. I was just wondering, did you have to give up your United States Citizenship to become an Israeli citizen? How is that usually handled?

    • Americans are allowed dual citizenship with Israel.

      • Awesome blog….thx for writing it….lots of questions but specific to this thread, do you know if Canadians can have dual citizenship with Israel?

      • I believe so. I know many Canadians who have made Aliyah.

  73. I have a few questions about the Aliyah process
    1. I am thinking about move king Aliyah after several amazing trips and falling in love with someone living in Israel. My boyfriend in Israel is not ona permanent visa and I’ve heard of something called a friendship visa, which allows significant others of Israeli citizens to get a work visa so the couple can live together legally. I am wondering if you know if a person who newly makes Aliyah can get this type of visa for a boyfriend/girlfriend?

    2. My other question is about the rules and regulations of staying in Israel after making Aliyah. I love spending time in Israel and feel that this could be the right move for me at the moment but also think about wanting to move back to the states in the future, is this possible after making Aliyah? I have tried to find info about this and have has trouble…know where to find anything about either of these questions??

    Thanks so much!

    • I highly recommend spending an extended amount of time in Israel before making Aliyah. Like a semester abroad program, a volunteer program, etc . .. this way you can really get to know Israel – both the bad and the good, meet people, etc . ..

      I’ve never heard of a friendship visa, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      It is possible to leave Israel after making Aliyah, but I don’t think it is good practice to move there with the intention of leaving. For one, you get a lot of benefits when you move there, and these are funds that could go to poor people that need it much more than you or me. If you aren’t ready to commit, then I’d go with my first suggestion – a long term trip first. Check out the useful links page for some suggestions.

  74. Are there any american banks in israel? I’m thinking that I could reduce fees by just using transfers within a bank. Unlike many olim who ask about moving money from the US to Israel. We are more likely to be moving money from Israel to the US to pay student loans and make US purchases. We are just finishing grad school and about to make aliyah this summer, so not much money here to work with (need an account without a min. balance). Thoughts?

    • There are international banks, but most of these are for business purposes. You might want to post a comment on the facebook page to see what others recommend.

  75. Hi

    I am a nineteen year old boy and i am looking to join the IDF but my father is an israeli citizen and i just found out that i may not have to make aliya but i may have to serve three years.
    Is this the true?

    • As an Israeli citizen living abroad, you are supposed to get your service canceled. You can usually do this through the Israeli embassy in the country you live in. I suggest being in touch with the Israeli embassy so that you can either cancel it or be drafted.

  76. Shalom! I’m interested in hearing more about your flight with the lady who had her 9 cats with her! I am hoping to make Aliyah in the fall (once the weather cools off enough to fly with my cat) and am curious as to how she was able to have all of her cats IN the plane instead of in pet cargo. I only have one cat, Snoot, who will be coming with me, but he is very large in stature and weighs about 22 lbs. I was under the impression that animals had to be able to stand up, turn around, and lay down inside their carrier, which means his would not fit under a set. Mind you, even he wouldn’t be able to move much at all if I tried to bring him in a carrier that fit under the seats! And that’s IF I could even get him into one!
    Also, I’m single, 46, on a VERY limited budget, and plan to move to Ashdod, where most of my family live; but will have to find a place to live on my own with my cat. It seems the Absorption Centers do not allow pets. Any suggestions? Thanks for any advice/help!

    • I don’t have any more information about the cats on the plane, but Nefesh B’Nefesh arranged the flight. I did bring a dog on the plane, but he was in the belly of the plane.

      You will have to find an apartment on your own, the absorption ministry will not allow pets. However, at least Ashdod is not as expensive as Tel Aviv.

  77. if i want to be drafted who do i get in touch with?
    do i have to serve three years?

    • Call the Israeli Embassy in the US.

  78. I am due to make Aliyah in October this year, despite the fact I can’t wait to be there I am slightly concerned about the conflicting information I’m getting regarding long-term rented apartments. I’m trying to get people to go out and view them for me sometime in August/September – do you think that is time enough to find somewhere? (I have friends to stay with if needs be but really want my own place when I get there).

    I’ve also registered with a few empoyment agencies (and getting responses) but because of my limited Ivrit will I struggle more to find something? What I am doing is intensive Ulpan here & private lessons twice a week.

    Sorry for all the questions!!


    • You seem more prepared than most people already! You could live at the Ulpan for the first 5 months. This will decrease a lot of your expenses in the beginning. My biggest suggestion is that if you are going to make it living in Israel, you are going to have to get used to doing things at the last minute. I think you will be able to find an apartment once you get there. That way you can find something that you want and not something that others may think you want.

  79. I’m currently 21 years old, female, have a year left in college in the US (I’m American), and have wanting to make Aliyah for about two years now (however, as I mentioned, I’m in college in the US and want/need to finish that up before leaving. Obviously.) I’d like to make Aliyah not too long after I graduate (although I know the paperwork will take forever, so I’m not expecting to be on a one way flight to Israel only a few months after graduating.) My hope/plan is to go no later than when I’m 23, but: could I still do IDF service as a female at that age? I’m finding a lot of conflicting and confusing statements about this, and I would like to be able to do some IDF service when I get there.


    • I don’t think you need 2 years to plan your aliyah. 6 months should be enough. But, I would recommend that you spend some time on a long-term program in Israel before you make Aliyah. As far as the army – Women only HAVE to join the IDF if they move to Israel before the age of 17. This does not mean that you can’t join, but it will be an uphill battle – as everything is in Israel. Best of luck!

  80. Hi Jessica,
    I’m non-Jewish US citizen.
    I just got married to Jewish lady from Europe. She is Jewish on dad’s side only.
    We were planning to make Aliyah in September 2012.
    As she filed her paperwork in Europe, her request was denied because she does not have original document of her dad birth certificate.
    Her dad died already several years ago and as far as she knows his original birth certificate was lost during 2nd WW.
    I was wondering do we have better change to apply again in Israel or do we really need to have her dad’s original birth certificate?
    Thank you,

    • You should get in touch with an organization called ITIM. They are known for helping with these type of situations – proving Jewish identity for citizenship, aliyah purposes or the rabbinute. Please they will be able to explain how all of the laws will impact your situation.

  81. Hi! Thanks for your great info! I have been planning to make aliyah for two years and finally graduate university in December. I’m American and can read and write Hebrew very slowly- have a rough knowledge of some vocabulary but essentially cannot speak or understand fluent conversation. I will obviously do the most intense Ulpan that I can, as I realize that knowing Hebrew is crucial to my ‘survival’ in Israel. However, I am a broke student as of now and really need to find some initial work upon my arrival. Whether it is in a restaurant or what not- I will need some work. How likely am I going to find restaurant work with out fluent Hebrew? Babysitting? Someone’s assistant? Etc? I’ll have a university degree in International Affairs and will want to use it desperately to get work that I am passionate about but I fear that is not realistic initially. Hearing my situation, do you think I’ll find work to help support myself while in Ulpan? I know that I am sacrificing starting a career that I am passionate about, however, I know that I want to be in Israel. Any suggestions or realistic advice/ inormation? I have no family in Israel, just some friends.
    Thanks so much! – Erica

    • The best place to look for a job is israemploy. Check the useful links section on the blog. Also, start subscribing to the yahoo groups – tanglo and janglo. As far as Ulpan, make sure to take advantage of the first 5 months to really improve your Hebrew. This is where you will see the most improvement in your Hebrew. My best advice is just be determined and don’t give up. Once you are in Israel, persistence will prove much more useful than Zionism.

  82. my mom committed a smail non violent crime in her youth she is very much older, after the fact through many organizations and work saved and helped many lives. She practices judaic faith and going to get a DNA test for proof of jewishness she is much older now and even did work trying to bless fire and police community and other philanthropy groups for free. Will Israel not let her make aliyah b/c of a mistake she made when very young

    • Sorry, but you will have to talk to a lawyer about this. As far as a DNA test, Judaism is a religion not a race. And either way, Israel doesn’t accept DNA tests as proof of Jewish identity.

  83. Hi! I am actually making aliyah this august and was wondering still how vacation in the army works and how long it is. I know lone soldiers get a special month off but there is also regular leave as well correct? This is more of a question for my mom than for me thanks!

    • All lone soldiers get 1 day a month for errands. A month a year to go see their family. 5 days every 3 or 4 months.

  84. if I plan my aliyah from Canada, do I actually recive an Israeli Passport right away, or how long does it take.

    • No, you don’t get a passport immediately. You first get something called a teudat ma’avar – it is sort of like a temporary passport.

  85. When do most young people make Aliyah? Is it after college or before college because I am thinking that maybe going to college first and receiving an education and a degree is a better plan than going straight to army service, then proceeding to attain my degree in America.

    • And to add to my last question, I see you made Aliyah right out of university. Why did you choose to go to college first and would you say today it was the best decision for you? Thanks!

      • I personally hadn’t even thought about making Aliyah before I went to undergrad. It was only something I decided after graduating. I know people who have done both. There are pluses and minuses for both. But it depends what your end goals are.

        For instance, if you go to the army first – education is cheaper in Israel, you will be the same age as everyone else in the army. If you to school first, you will be the same age as everyone else in school, the school in the US might be better recognized (especially if you want to move back to the US), you might be able to go into the army as an officer or serve in a unit relevant to your education . . .

  86. Shalom
    How does it work the step process at the jewish agency for the aaliyah how long it take
    If by example my parents are anusim(jews forced to convert to christianism during the spanish inquisition)my both parents paractice judaisme. But they don’t have any certificate from rabbis.I know how to speak hebrew(medium level) and read perfectly hebrew. I did a dna test maternal and paternal and both proofs “jewishness” if its my only proofs do they will let me get a right of return or not ? I eard bnei anusim they had bEen recognized by the hallaka as jews

    • The laws for Aliyah are typically that you have to have one grandparent who is Jewish. I’ve never heard of DNA tests as proof of Jewishness. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  87. Shalom, Daniel!
    Do some research. A simple Google search will hook you up with a wealth of information. However, not all of it is accurate. Connect directly with Nefesh B’Nefesh at, the Jewish Agency for Israel at, and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption at
    You don’t say where you are now… that may have some bearing on the process as well…
    You may also want to take a look at this site:
    Best of luck to you, Daniel!!!

  88. I am trying to figure out if its best for me to get a work visa first before applying for Aliyah. I am reading that although there are jobs, the reality is that employers will discriminate against me due to my age (52)

  89. Israeli new car websites often publish new car prices. Are these the prices that Israelis actually pay, or are they exclusive of taxes? What does someone without rights actually pay, and what does someone with rights actually pay?

    I just have no idea what it really costs to buy a car in Israel!

  90. I have a friend with terminal cancer. He wants to be buried in Israel. He heard that if he became an Israeli citizen he would receive some burial benefits to reduce the cost. Can he make aliyah from USA, and enjoy those rights upon his passing? If it is necessary for him to visit Israel? He is well enough and healthy now to do that, but he will return to live through his days with his family in USA. Due to his not being in the strongest financial position right now, he seeks to diminish the burden for his family.

    • I honestly have no idea. I’m sorry. I wish I could be more helpful. Maybe somebody else that reads the blog will have an answer. My thoughts are with your friend.

  91. Hi,
    I’m making Aliyah very soon and at the moment I’m on some perscription medicines for depression. Do you have any advice who to approach first and are such medications (psychiatric) usually on perscription in Israel. I will be staying in ulpan and I know there is a social worker there, so do you maybe think it’s good to speak to the social worker about this?
    Thanks a lot for your help!

    • Israel has a great health care system, especially when it comes to prescriptions being covered – including psychiatric medications. There are also no exceptions for pre-existing conditions. There may not be the exact same brand, but Israel has many of the top level generic brands. You might just want to call up a pharmacy at superpharm, let them know the name of the prescription you take and see what they offer – same dosage, same ingredients. And I think it is a great idea to be in touch with the social worker – I’m sure the social worker would be very helpful on a number of different things. Best of luck!

  92. on a website i read the following:

    “18) How long will it take me to get into the army once I get to Israel?

    a. You are giving an “acclamation year” by the Army once you make Aliyah. The army wants you to use this year to learn Hebrew and get used to living in Israel. If you are joining Garin Tzabar or Machal, you are only given a few months before you start the Army once you arrive in Israel. If you would like to join the Army before your “acclamation year” is up, you will first need to request a Tzav Rishon (first call up). Click to learn more about requesting a Tzav Rishon. ”

    Unfortunately I have very limited knowledge of hebrew, and I wont be able to afford to live and eat in israel for an entire year unless I have a job or some sort of funding or grant is available, is their any sort of funding available to support me for my acclamation year? or do i have to fund the entire year myself?

    I’m only asking as I feel that my hebrew skills are at a very low level and I only have a small amount of money to bring with me(not enough to last the entire year).

    • If you are stubborn and work hard, you will learn Hebrew. There is Ulpan before the army and if you need to, there is also during the army. The government does give you money and stipends for living, but it is not enough to get by. You might need to find a part time job or work as a waiter to make ends meet. Also, the money that you make in the army is almost really enough to get by either, so it is wise to save.

  93. Hi!

    I went to Israel recently and loved it, especially in the Galilee region. My dad is Jewish but my mom is not, but I identify as Jewish and have also had a Conservative conversion here in the U.S. As I understand it, those with at least 1 grandparent who are Jewish are eligible to make aliyah, as are converts from any of the major streams of Judaism. In my case, would my application be considered on the basis of my father being Jewish, or my conversion, and is there a route that is “easier” in terms of getting accepted. I understand that regardless, the Rabbinate would not currently consider me Jewish because neither my mom is Jewish nor my conversion done through an Orthodox community. That is fine, I am more concerned about actually making it over there and being accepted as a citizen by the state. Also, do programs such as those helping citizens who want to settle in less populated regions (such as the Galilee or the Negev) apply to ALL olim or just the ones who the rabbinate will consider Jewish?

    • It applies to all olim.

  94. Hey, so i’m 17 from New York and last year my parents made me move to Israel with them. Going into my junior year of high school as an olah hadasha in a full blown Israeli high school wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Now i am starting my senior year and i have to decide if i want to go to the army or not. Before moving here my dad promised me that i would not have to go to the army if i didn’t want to, which makes the decision that much harder. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve really enjoyed meeting new people and living the “Israeli experience,” yet I’m still stuck in the mindset of finishing high school and going to college. I already finished my tsav rishon (which i postponed about three times), and i need to make my decision soon. Are you glad that you’ve chosen to stay in Israel and go to the army?

    • Good for you to looking into this. Just out of curiosity, how would your parents get you out of the army?

      Anyhow, I do highly recommend the army. You will learn a lot about yourself. But more so, the army is a huge part of the culture of army. Usually the question between, what is your name and what sign are you is what did you do in the army. While the army was hard, I would have regretted not doing it much more than I ever regretted doing it while I was actually going through it. It improved my Hebrew, I met some great people and I really felt like I became an Israeli while I was in the army.

      I’m sure you will make the right decision for you.

  95. This is going to sound like a really stupid question. For that, I apologize in advance.

    What is the difference between making aliyah and simply relocating to Israel?

    I am of Jewish descent, on my father’s side. My late mother converted in order to marry him. I identify as an atheist.

    My paternal grandparents did their best to indoctrinate Jewish culture into me and my sister. I consider it part of my identity but truth be told, I did not have a bat mitzvah and my family did not go to temple. (I didn’t have the most stable upbringing.) With my grandparents sadly no longer with us, it’s namely been through other Jews I’ve met as an adult and reading up on my own that I’ve even learned about my heritage and embraced it.

    From my understanding, an atheist of Jewish descent can make aliyah but it will be difficult namely because an organization like Nefesh B’Nefesh would definitely not help me. But…what is the distinction between making aliyah, and simply leaving for Israel?

    I can’t seem to find the answer anywhere and am afraid of asking these organizations questions for fear of being mocked because of how I was raised.

    I’m in my final semester of grad school and planned on working for another year or two, saving money to relocate to another country anyway, so I have no problem if organizations would rather help the more devout than give the tattooed atheist any funds to leave America.

    • Making Aliyah means that you actually move to Israel. You become a citizen of the country. Simply relocating could mean that you are only a resident, but don’t become a citizen. There is no reason that Nefesh B’Nefesh wouldn’t help you. Your belief or not belief in a god is your own choice and your personal choice – it does NOT need to be shared with anyone else – or any organization. There are plenty of people that are willing to help you. You, by right of law, as a Jew with one Jewish grandparent have the right to make aliyah to Israel. HOWEVER, keep in mind that the Rabbinute has its own definition for what a Jew is. Due to the twisted political system in Israel, the Rabbinute has control over marriage, this means that you would not be able to get married in Israel. You have as much right to be in Israel as anyone. Israel needs more progressive people like you. Trust me it does not need any more devout Haredi Orthodox Jews – there are enough of them there already!

  96. do a pilot trip to Israel. You may fall in love with it or feel like a ‘fish out of water’ (as I always feel)

  97. Hi, I’m 22 years old, Mexican and I’m currently volunteering in Israel, (Kibbutz). After being here for about 9 months I’m sure about my decision of making aliyah and serving the IDF.
    My idea is making a military career and life here in Israel.
    My questions are:

    Which agency should I contact to do aliyah from inside Israel as a Mexican?
    How fast can I enroll in the IDF?
    Next January I’ll be in Israel for a year, I’ve been told that after a year I have to do “forced” army. Does that count as part of my service, i mean, can I do the army and then aliyah or how does it work? I want to be in the army as soon as possible so I can start my career.

    Besides that I did 3 years of university in the U.S. (engineering), can I finish in Israel at some point, or do I have to start all over?

    • You should contact your Israeli consulate in Mexico, from what I understand. But you can also go to the Israeli Aliyah offices to ask for guidance. Timing of being drafted is different for everyone. It usually won’t be less than 5 months after Aliyah, so that you can finish Ulpan. If you are male, then there is a chance that you will be drafted for shlav bet at your age, which would count as part of your service. There is a program called machal, metnadvim m’chotz l’aretz, that allows you to join the army before you are a citizen. However, it is important to note, that you may not be able to make a military career, as this depends more on the army than you.

      As far as school, it does depend on where you studied and what the education ministry and your school recognizes.

      • quick question, I have a friend making Aliyah, his case is with the interior ministry how long does that take to get approval its seems forever

  98. Also, my heritage is Russian, some orthodox people told me that it will make it harder for me to do Aliyah, besides the fact that my mother is not jewish and I sadly never did barnitz bah.

    • The aliyah authorities may look at your documents more carefully because of your Russian heritage. To make Aliyah, you have to prove that one of your grandparents is Jewish. However, since your mother is not Jewish, you will not be able to get married in Israel, be buried in a Jewish cemetery. This is unfortunate, but you should know the laws. If you want to do a conversion, then you might want to look into the IDF conversions instead of a civilian one, since it is easier. However, I of course understand if you don’t want to convert, because your Jewish identity is yours and not the Rabbinutes to determine.

  99. Thank you so much for writing this blog!

    I have a question that I hope you can help me with? I have been trying to get information from Misrad Hapnim but all they do is refer me to the Israeli embassy in my country who in turn tell me that they do not know the answer to my question and direct me back to the ministry. Sigh! Perhaps I should get used to this?

    My fiancee is a Jewish Israeli citizen and we met in my country New Zealand. He has been here for the last 5 years and is returning to Israel in November, I will then go to Israel in April of next year.

    I understand as the spouse of an Israeli citizen I will not be eligible to make Aliyah and will have to apply to Misrad Hapnim for a work visa etc and am currently in the process of gathering all the documentation for this.

    Once I have the work visa our plan is for me to begin the conversion process. My question is, once I have converted, will I then be able to make ALIYAH from WITHIN Israel after converting, as I will then be Jewish and eligible under the law of return to make Aliyah. Or can you only make Aliyah if you converted in another country first?

    Being from New Zealand, organisations like NBN have said they are unable to assist me, which is making the process of gaining information harder, any help you could give would be much appreciated!

    • Ok, so the first thing I would do is call NBN and say that you are from North America and then ask them all the questions about making aliyah as the spouse of an Israeli citizen. Then once you have that information, you will know how to move forward. Start thinking like an Israeli! 😉

  100. Hi aliyah! My name is Illya, im 24 russian born, american citizent. I just got out of US army with one combat tour on my belt. I would love to join IDF and make my way to an elite unit. The only thing is that i have no israeli in me what so ever. No jewish blood in my parents or my grandparents either… I understand that the age limit for non israelis is 23, but is there any way around it? Ill b 25 in jan. Thank you so much!

  101. Hi, I was wondering what the rules were about leaving Israel once you’ve made Aliyah? Is there a minimum stay requirement? If you have lived there for a year but then need to move back to England, do you have to repay the benefits you have been given and return your passport etc? Thank you!

    • Only if you make aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh. But I wouldn’t suggest milking the system . .. sort of like the way the chasidic do. Israel has plenty of economic problems without someone else trying to take advantage . .. that being said, taking advantage of the system is the most Israeli thing you can do.

  102. What aliyah chance is there for an impoverished Social Security Disability recipient, please?

    • You can make aliyah, but it will be hard. Everything costs more there. Check with Nefesh B’Nefesh regarding what you would get from Bituach Leumi.

  103. Hi, my brother is 15 our dad is Israeli and we made Aliya 7 years ago but only lived in Israel for 17 months. We want to send my brother to a school in Israel and for him to ‘remake’ aliyah but my parents will be staying in England I need to know can my brother make Aliyah at 16 or can I be his legal guardian?I am an Israeli citizen and am moving back to Israel when he goes. I am 23.

    • There are programs for students that want to make aliya that he could look into. I don’t know if you could become a legal guardian. Check with Nefesh B’Nefesh.

  104. Also I’m not entitled to any Aliyah rights as I’ve lived there more than four years in previous years but I’ve been told I can fight to get financial help if I go to university where/who/how do I do this?
    Thanks 🙂

    • I’m sorry, but I don’t know about this either. Definitely ask Nefesh B’Nefesh. However, fighting for things is a must in Israel!

  105. Do you know a macintosh technician in Jerusalem?

  106. Sure someone can assist me with your knowledge on here. I made Aliyah back in late 83 and left Israel and returned to the UK in 87 (was in Nahal) – how do I stand with benefits, assistance with top up ulpan etc?

  107. Is a pilot trip an absolute pre-requisite? I had my interview in August, the man from nefesh b’nefesh said everything was fine, then just today told me my app still hadn’t been processed and he wants a pilot trip first, which throws off my whole schedule, as I’d been aiming for a January aliyah with my son. Can they absolutely insist on forcing me to do this trip first, if so, do you see any documentation where this rule exists? Is there anything I can do? We have not visited Israel yet, and were absolutely never told that we needed to, or I would have done it this fall, but we have fully committed to our aliyah, I don’t understand the game-playing involved here.


    • I didn’t do a pilot trip. I don’t know what other people’s experiences are. I know that pilot trips have proven to be helpful with aliyah success. But this can be your chance to start pushing back against Israeli bureaucracy.

  108. Hi Survivor, I saw you mentioned you worked part time as waitress while you were going to Ulpan Etzion. I’m going to be going there myself. Do you know where would be a good area around there to look for part time work?

    • I actually did not work as a waitress. I interned at Merkaz Hamagshamim as the PR intern. But there are lots of restaurants on Emek Refaim if you are looking to waitress. However, if you are going to be in the German Colony, don’t expect to learn any Hebrew – because everyone there speaks English.

  109. Hi I’m an ole from Argentina
    Did aliyah in 2007 but went back and forth to Argentina many times, so probably I lived in Israel less than 3 years.
    Never worked here. This year I came back as and received money in my account from abroad.
    When I went to take the money, they told me I owed the bituach leumi like 3000 USD, don’t remember the exact amount.
    Now I’m paying every month payments of this debt, plus the 160 shekels for my regular bituach leumi payment.
    I’m mad cause before never did I receive the 160 per month also I didn’t know I had to pay since I never worked here.only when I came back in 2012 and received money in my account they told me I had this huge debt.
    I’m going back to Argentina, I would like to know if there is a way to stop receiving the bituach leumi payments since I don’t plan to live in Israel for long time.

    Thanks and please if someone had similar experience help me!””””

    • You might need a lawyer to get the debt cancelled. But, yes, there is a way to cancel your bituach leumi – you’ll have to do the paperwork. Just go to the offices and tell them you want to cancel because you are leaving the country.

  110. My son rents in Hertzilia. He had a plumbing problem and the landlord had someone come out and fix it and know he wants him to pay for the repairs. Is that normal practice in Israel. His lease was up in July when he graduated IDC. And since he didn’t know his plans after graduating he asked if he could pay month to month.

    • It is a normal practice for the landlord to try to get out of payments, but he needs to check the lease. Landlords are typically responsible for repairs.

  111. What is the aliyah interview like with the shilach,what do they ask you,how long after do you get approved for aliyah?

    • Honestly, it was so easy that I don’t even remember it. I think they ask what your plans are in Israel and why you want to make aliyah. There are some background questions about your Jewishness, i.e. type of involvement in the Jewish community, etc . ..

  112. Hi there,
    I am a 21 year old female and in the process of applying for Aliyah. I am confused about weather service in the IDF will be compulsory for me?
    Any information you could provide would be amazing. Thanks!! 🙂

    • It is only compulsory for a female if you make aliyah before the age of 17.

    • The relevant cut off age (after which one is not required to serve) for women in most cases is 20 – check with your Aliyah Shaliach regarding your specific details

  113. I have a question about the length of this process. I sent in my application five months ago and received confirmation that all the required documents had been received. I’ve been emailing my Shaliach but she still has no news for me. Is this normal? Could the fact that I am a convert have anything to do with the delay?

    • The process can take months, but the fact that you are a convert could delay this. What type of rabbi did the conversion? Have you lived in the community for a year? Are you familiar with the restrictions that the rabbinute has on important Jewish life cycles?

  114. My girlfriend wants to move to Israel with me. The problem is, she is Catholic (Im jewish) and we are common law. I understand we will have to get married first. I dont like the idea of getting married for immigration purposes. Can I get citizenship and bring her or maybe I can open a buisness and hire her ? (she wants to work and contribute- but I dont know if this is possible)

    • I’m sorry, but I really don’t know the answer to this question. What about going to school in Israel, should could probably get a VISA to study . .

  115. Thank you so much for your response. I am aware of the rabbinate’s restrictions. I made my conversion with a reform rabbi, and my husband (who is Jewish) and I have lived for several years now in our community. Since all of our future plans have been suspended until I hear back, we are both, understandably, a little concerned about how long this will take.

    • Well, you definitely have the right of return for citizenship. This is your time to start training yourself to be Israeli .. . reach out to them and keep bugging them until you get the answer you want. 🙂

      • I just wanted to say thank you again for your response. I received my approval two days ago. For all future olim who are also converts, the process from beginning to end took just over five months. I definitely had to apply some pressure and be a little obnoxious but it was worth it in the end. Good luck to all of you!

    • Wish there was a like button here! Mazal tov!

  116. Hello,
    I am an 18 year old female. I was born in Israel and have my Israeli citizenship. However, I moved with my parents to Canada at the age of 7 and currently reside with them. Consequently, I also have my Canadian Citizenship. I’m studying in college right now, but I want to go study politics and government in an Israeli University, and basically move back to my homeland! If I go back to study in Israel next year (19 years old) will I have to serve in the army?

    Thanks for taking the time to reply!

    • You would be considered a katina chozeret. There is a chance you might be drafted, but I believe that there is a way out of it. I would contact Nefesh B’Nefesh to be sure.

      • Thank you!
        Hopefully this all works out.

  117. you need to do a pilot trip. Moving to Israel can be a nightmare especially if you dont have famly there.

  118. Hello Jessica,
    I am seriously considering Aliyah but not ready to commit. In order to apply to Nefesh b Nefesh I need to have an interview at the Jewish Agency. Am I making a commitment to make Aliyah if I go to the interview? I have feelings of guilt about going to the interview and then changing my mind. Am I being silly?

    • No, you are not making a commitment. Yes, you are being silly. But don’t tell anyone that you aren’t ready. Why don’t you take a trip over there to get a better picture of what you want to do? Can you do a long-term program?

  119. I would like to find a free or even low price program if possible for like one or 2 months. The problem is I am 42 and most programs are for 20 somethings. Do you know of any low cost/volunteer programs for people my age. I understand that Kibbutzim are only for up to 35 years old. In the meantime NBN is expecting me to have an interview with the Socnut so I guess I’ll make an appointment.
    Thank you so much.

    • I wish I knew of a program to recommend. However, you should definitely not show your doubt regarding aliyah to the Jewish Agency. That being said, they might have a long term program to recommend.

  120. Thank you. It may be wise then for me to do a program so that when i go to the interview I will be appear more sure.
    Thank you for all your advice!

  121. Hi there, I have been given approval for my Aliyah, flights have been booked and I will be there in under two weeks!!! I’m so excited!!! Although I wanted to ask a few questions just for my own interest and just in case my plans change in the future. I wanted to know if I have to or decide to move away from Israel for some reason in the future,

    a) will my children automatically receive citizenship if they are born overseas or will I have to apply for it?

    b) will my children have any service requirements to the IDF if they are born and live overseas?

    c) Will I be liable to pay Israeli taxes if I am no longer a resident?

    Sorry for the twenty questions, I just thought these things were things I should know just in case – and my Shaliach has conveniently forgotten to reply to my email regarding these questions twice!!

    Any help you could provide would be great – thanks!!

    • a) There will be paperwork
      b)There will be more paperwork
      c) Mainly, no

      Good luck

  122. How can I make a complaint against betuach leumi? Is there an ombudsman that I can file a complaint with? Thanks.

  123. Hi there,
    I’m an Israeli American (traveled to Israel and lived there temporarily for <4months). I'm planing on returning as a katin chozer. I want my bf to join me, he is not at all Jewish. I know it's possible for a non married spouse to gain residency on behalf of their Israeli partner (friends of mine went through this process), but as part of the process, the Israeli usually has to provide proof of income, rent, arnona payments or the like. Seeing as how I'm not currently in Israel , do you think I would have to move there earlier and get a legitimate job, pay rent, etc. to prove these things?

  124. Hi:
    Me and my husband making Aliya this year. I still have a question is it worth it ship all your house goods over there and deal with border control? Is it possible at all? I read bunch of articles how people can not get all their home foods from containers because of boarder control! Please advice which company I should use in US to ship everything and how hard it will be to get it back? Please share your experiences! Thanks 🙂

    • I shipped a ton of stuff and didn’t really have a problem. I mean, there was paperwork and annoying stuff that I had to do, but it was fine. You can always buy stuff in Israel. I guess I would suggest taking stuff only if it has sentimental value for you. you can buy everything in Israel. I believe I used a company called Sonigo to ship things once, but I can’t remember. Keep in mind, it is more expensive to ship from Israel versus to Israel. Also, you should not have to pay taxes as part of your Aliyah rights.

      • Do you think it would be a good idea to put up a comment that aliyah visas are not being issues at the moment because of the strike, so people are aware of this issue?

        Best, Kathryn


  125. Where would be the best place for a 60 year old reform Jewish women who has never been to Israel, has no real interest in going either, to make Aliyah and live in? Example : a specific kibbutz or small town

    • Maybe you should look into moving to a different place? If you aren’t interested in moving to Israel, it will be pretty hard to survive.

      • Noooo, I plan on moving to israel after high school and I want my mother because of situations . Do you know any places ?

      • I want my mother to move with me

  126. Hi, I am a college student who pushed off my previously planned aliya until after I graduate. My plan is to join the IDF upon graduating and completing my premed courses and then possibly becoming a doctor in Israel. Will Israeli medical schools accept the same pre-reqs as American medical schools such as the MCATs and will the passed time between when I finished college and finished army service be an issue when applying? Will it also be an issue that I will be 24 when starting army service?

    • The path to becoming a doctor is very different in Israel. I don’t believe there is undergrad and then medical school, but rather about 8 years of medical school.

      If you already have your medical degree then you will probably be a doctor in the army, which may mean that the army will want you to sign for longer and also have to do officers course.

  127. We would like to make Aliyah in November in Netanya. Is there anyone out there who could help us.

    We are coming through Nefesh B Nefesh.

  128. I forgot to mention we are looking for somewhere to live in Netanya either a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment if someone can help us or even share a apartment with anyone.

  129. B”H

    Hi, I converted to Judaism 20 years ago under Orthodox Conversion, learned in Yeshiva in Israel, and even did Giur L’chumra in Israel just before me and my wife got married (in Israel) because a dayan required it so we could marry in Israel. My wife was born in Israel, left, & then came back with NBN to be a citizen before we met. Seven years ago we all moved back to the US and have had four children here, B”H. We now want to come back home to Israel. What do you think is the easiest and most beneficial process to do that? Obviously, my wife has no issue, but what’s best for me & the children? Do they get automatic status because of their mother? Is simply moving their and doing Guided Aliyah from over there easier? Thanks for any suggestions and input! NBN is closed today so I figured I’d ask an experienced person!

  130. Great blog. I enjoyed hearing your story. What would you recommend to someone who is considering moving to Isreal? Also, it is cold there? Is college free to Isrealis?

    • College is not free, but is substantially cheaper than in the US. A general suggestion – don’t expect Zionism to pay your bills.

      • I don’t expect zionism to pay the bills but since many countries who have socialized healthcare also have socialuzed education, it’s a fair question.

      • US healthcare is disgusting.

      • The general suggestion had nothing to do about your question regarding college. Most people who move to Israel tend to think they can live off Zionism. They are just way too idealistic and the harsh realities of the country end up being too much. If you want more specific advice, I’m happy to try to answer.

  131. Hi, so I am planning on making aliyah in the beginning of December and was looking to do ulpan as a way to ease my way into aliyah and whatnot. The only thing was I wanted to do Ulpan in Tel Aviv and it looks like the Ulpan doesn’t start until March. I think I would be at Gimmel or higher although I have no way of knowing really. I know there is Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem that starts in January but I was really hoping to be in Tel Aviv so I could start interning/volunteering and hopefully be able to get a job when I finish ulpan in 5 months. Any suggestions?

    • I definitely understand wanting to get settled in Tel Aviv. However, Ulpan Etzion is supposed to be a much better Ulpan. Is there a reason that you can’t work some while you are in Jerusalem and then move to Tel Aviv afterwards. After all, it isn’t really beach weather during those months. The major piece of advice that I would offer is that you will learn the largest chunk of Hebrew when you first arrive, take advantage of that and the benefits you get. You can always move to Tel Aviv after. Otherwise, check into an option of starting mid semester at Gordon.

    • The Jewish Agency runs Ulpan programs in many locations – here’s a link to a page with more info on all of them including a Tel Aviv program for you to peruse. Your Aliyah shaliach will be able to help you sign up!

  132. Shalom My name is Yisroel and I’m currently 15 I want to make Aliyah when I’m like 16 or 17 my parents are ok with it we are chasidish orthodox but kinda close to Hasidic and I wanna join the IDF in Israel when I’m older do you think I can? I heard that Haredi (orthodox ) Jews are exempt from the army there that true? Can someone that’s Chasidish join the IDF ? I just wanna know.

  133. Shalom! I am so glad that I found your blog, it is really helpful. And I am looking forward to your book too! I am in the process of applying for Aliyah and my last step is the interview with the shaliach…which is in two weeks. I am kind of freaking out! Can you give me any advice on the interview? I really have no idea what to expect! What kinds of questions did they ask you? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! =)

  134. Hello, I was reading your blog and I had a question. I converted to Judaism in 2006. I’m married, now, and have 2 children who we are raising Jewish but my husband is not Jewish. Would we be able to make aliyah? We are members of a synagogue, my son had a bris but with my husband not being Jewish and my not having any Jewish family members would that make it so that aliyah would be out of our reach?

    • You could make aliyah. You need to make sure that you have fulfilled everything for you conversion – including 1 year living in the community in which you converted. Also, make sure you understand the different legal standings of the different kind of conversions.

  135. Hi, first of all i just need to thanking you lot.
    My question is that I’m always in thinking that weather I have the right to be israeli citizen or not.Let me make it clear,I’m 20 years old Ethiopian guy living in Ethiopia but my father lives in israel & also he is a Israeli citizen so please inform me the way how can i obtain a citizenship of israeli.

    • Based on what you wrote, yes, you should be applicable for the right of return. However, many Ethiopians have found it difficult to prove they are Jewish and get approval to become a citizen of Israel. Try calling this Israeli number – 1-800-800-139

  136. I went on birthright about 8 years ago and am thinking of making aliyah. It seems like finding a job can be strenuous when you get over. Will my student loan debt follow me right when I get over? Because then I would be without a job and a bunch of bills to pay which would make it all the harder.

    • Student loans do not just disappear because you move.

  137. That makes sense, but have you heard of the American government or credit card companies pursuing people for their debts in Israel? It’s not something I’m super proud of, but maybe I can get a fresh start in the promised land. FYI – I found your post on the cab drivers after you land in Israel so funny.

    • Glad you liked it. Here is the thing, I wouldn’t recommend it. Nothing is forever, If you ever move back to the US, you will be in a lot of trouble…

  138. Dear AliyahSurvival, I have not read all through your blog so perhaps the answer to my question is tucked in somewhere in it. I am a 67-year-old American Jew and have always wanted to visit Israel but never seemed to have the money to go. Is there any financial assistance to seniors for travel to Israel?

    • Sorry, but I am not aware of any. You might want to check with your Synagogue or local UJC.

  139. Hi there, I made Aliyah in June. I did not apply for the Nefesh B’Nefesh financial grant because I have to live back in my birth country for about a year to finish off some university things (and I know you have to be here for a minimum of 3 years or you have to pay them back). I now know that I will be here for at least the next 2.5 years before going back to finish my degree (after which I will be coming back to Israel)… Do you know if you can apply for the grant and have time you have already been living here count for the 3 years?

    • This is really a technical question that you should ask Nefesh B’Nefesh. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

  140. Good Day,

    I was wondering if you happen to know how one obtains a Proof of Judaism for making Aliyah. Or a website or list, that lists all the American rabbis that are recognized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Israeli Government to sign off for the Proof of Judaism Aliyah papers?

    And does it have to be orthodox rabbis? Can it be a conservative Rabbi?

    Thank you!

    • Any rabbi can write a letter testifying to your Jewish identity for aliyah purposes. The Rabbinate only accepts rabbinate-approved rabbis – typically chabad. The chief rabbinate refuses to publish a list – political reasons.

      • Toda, Jessica! I really do appreciate your help!

    • Not any Rabbi will do. The Rabbi needs to be connected to one of the recognised Jewish streams – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist. The Chief Rabbinate has nothing to do with Aliyah. the Jewish Agency for Israel deals with who is recognised. If a person wants to get married in Israel then they will need to prove that they are Jewish according to halacha which will necessitate a letter from a recognised orthodox Rabbi.

  141. Shalom Jessica,

    Your blog has provided many with lots of valuable information. Do you happen to know anything about how the Student Authority works as far as getting financial assistance. I found this on the Nefesh website, “Student Benefits are provided by the Student Authority. Students who are studying for an MA may be eligible for a subsidy covering up to a year of Hashlamot (prerequisite classes), in addition to assistance with the cost of the degree. Students who choose to study in a one year MA program are eligible to receive two years of assistance to use towards the cost of their studies.” Do you know of any other opportunities for financial assistance for the Hashlamot that are available for an Oleh pursuing a MA? Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. All the best!

    • There are a few programs. I was in the military, so I was able to release some money that the IDF provides for education after military service tax free. There is also Heseg for former lone soldiers – I don’t know any other ones, but I’ve heard there are quite a few. Sorry that I am not more up to date.

      • Jessica,

        Thank you so much for your quick response. The Oleh I was asking about wasn’t required to serve in the military due to her age when she made Aliyah. However, this info will be helpful for her fiancé and my son who are currently serving in the IDF. If you should happen to find out if there’s anything for those who didn’t serve, please let me know. Thanks again!

    • to contact the English speaking desk of the Student Authority email

      • Thank you Neil. I will pass on this information.

  142. Hi Jessica,

    I recently returned to the U.S. from a Birthright trip and would like to return to Israel for 6 months to a year to experience life there and consider making a permanent move. I was raised Jewish and have Jewish ancestry through my father, but my mother is not Jewish. I know that I should be eligible under the law of return, but am concerned due to a recent article regarding immigration published in Haaretz:

    Are you familiar with issues that would-be immigrants are having who do not have maternal jewish ancestry? Thank you.


    • Hi Zach,

      I am very familiar with this situation. I don’t have access to the entire article, so I am not sure what exactly you are referring to. In any case, I have written a number of answers to this same question on the blog. A letter from a Rabbi should be enough to prove you are Jewish for the right of return. However, complications will arise for marriage, burial, childbirths. This is because the Rabbinate has a monopoly over Judaism and Jewish lifecycles in Israel. People are slowly getting more fed up with it and there is hope that it will change, but change is slow. In any case, you would need to get married abroad. you could always go through a Rabbinate conversion process, which is pretty difficult and takes over a year and half. I personally feel like converting through the Rabbinate, even if you already identify as Jewish, only gives them more credibility. but of course this is a choice that you need to make for yourself. And just to let you know, many Jewish Americans who the Rabbinate would consider Jewish have a hard time proving it to the Ravvinate standards.



      • Thank you for the reply Jessica and my apologies for not discerning an answer from earlier posts. There is quite a bit of conflicting information on the internet regarding this subject and it seems that the decisions of immigration officials can be affected by current leadership and events in Israel in addition to what has been defined in the Law of Return. It is very good to receive encouragement that returning to Israel will be a possibility, notwithstanding the issues that will arise once I’m there.

        My family has been affiliated with a synagogue most of my life and I should have no issue getting a letter from a rabbi. I’ll be reaching out to the local Jewish Agency for Israel in the coming days for guidance on how to proceed. Thanks again.


  143. Hello,
    I am currently a Freshman at an American University, I spent a year in Israel last year so I am currently 20 years old and want to make Aliyah perhaps next year. Do you recommend finishing school in the US and then making Aliyah, moving to Israel this summer and joining the army and then continuing my studies in Israel or moving to Israel to first finishing my studies at an Israeli University and then joining the army?
    Do you know of any similar cases?

    Thank You

    • Everybody makes different choices. You really need to figure out what is best for you. Look into the different options, like, where would you go to school, can you transfer your credits, what school has the same degree, do they offer the program in English, costs? etc… Depending on your age and gender when you make aliyah, you may not have to serve in the army . You might also be interested in doing a long term program before you make aliyah.

  144. if i move to israel my understanding is when i get their they will take my us passport and give me a red israeli papers for the first year. do i have to stay in israel for the first complete year or would i be able to leave for a week to visit family or not?

    • That is inaccurate. Your passport will not be taken away.

  145. hi i just moved to israel from costa rica to do the army, im 18 and they put me in modash, i am a couple days away from giyus and i dont want to be in modash i want magav. what do i do? i am not joining no matter what if they put me in modash, jail or no jail im not going there i am going to go to magav but i just want to know if there is an easier way to do this, thank you

    • Unless you have a connection (protectia), that is your best option. Stay stubborn and you will eventually get what you want.

      • thank you!

  146. Hi sweety, my name is Danielle and I am really interested in making Aliyah. I am married to an Israeli already, and we currently live in Canada. Unfortunately he was sent back to Israel, and so though this was not in our plans I am quite excited about living in Israel. I have always felt as though my soul belongs there, if you know what I mean. My question is, can I get all the benefits from nefesh b’nefesh if my husband is already living in Israel and has citizenship? Also I have a lot of family living there as well, will this make it less likely to receive financial aid? I am only nineteen years old, my Hebrew is quite limited and I have no post secondary education. Will this also effect the outcome of a positive Aliyah?

  147. Hi, I’m about to go for ulpan giyur process, but I was wondering if I’m gonna be able to make aliyah after finishing my giur?

    • Most likely, yes. Just understand what type of conversion you are doing to that you can understand all the implications.

  148. Can I make aliyah with my 2 cats?

    • Yes

  149. Hello,
    I was wondering if you knew of any programs that helped holocaust survivors return to Israel. My Sapta was part of the Jews who helped to create Isreal and her and her family moved to the states 15 years later. She has now lost her husband and her surviving family including her sister and brother are in Isreal. She wants more than anything to go back and see her sister and brother and other family members. The only issue is that none of us can afford to send her there. All she needs is a round trip plane ticket, she will have a place to stay once she is out there. If you know of anything that we can do or anyone to contact who could help us out that would be great!
    Thank you.
    3G Katie.

    • Nefesh B’Nefesh might, but I don’t know of anything specific.

  150. I am israeli who lives in nyc for 13 years, my wife is not jewish and we have a baby boy. If we decide to move to israel are they consider hole chadash?

  151. I think your son might be considered an oleh hadash. Your wife will not be considered either. She will have the right to move to Israel as your wife, but she will not be a citizen.

  152. That’s incorrect, the wife and child both will get citizenship under the Law of Return as well. The child/grandchild/spouse of a Jew (or spouse of said child/grandchild), whether living or dead, is entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return. As non-Jews, they will have issues of not being able to marry a Jew inside Israel and not being able to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, but that’s it. They are entitled to full citizenship, passport, etc.

    • Does it matter in what order the marriage\aliyah occurs? For example, if I make Aliyah as a Jew, and then leave and marry a non-Jew, can she make Aliyah with all the rights such as citizenship and passport you mentioned?

      • Order does not matter

      • I was told that in order to make aliyah the marriage have to be one year older before. So what i understand is that she will be able to stay but not with all the beneficts

  153. Hi,

    What a useful site! I have really enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

    I was wondering if you would be kind enough to answer two questions:

    Both my wife’s parents were born Jewish and my father was but mother was not. I undertook a Conservative (Masorti) conversion in the UK. If we made Aliyah what is the status of our son (I know he’s Jewish but assume he would be considered born outside of marriage as we were married in a non-orthodox shul) ? Could he get married in Israel? I don’t want to move anywhere where he feels marginalised in anyway.

    In terms of the “modest” lifestyle you mention just how modest is this? My motives for moving are not financial and I am fully prepared for a change in lifestyle, actually a simpler lifestyle seems very appealing. However we have are comfortable and the moment (far from rich) and I am concerned that the adjustment may be too great. My friends tell me that professional opportunities (excluding tech based industries) are far more limited in Israel. As a result what kind of work do you think I could hope to get in Israel and where are there the greatest chances of landing it (bearing in mind I have no talents to draw on).

    Also could you recommend a good part of the country to settle in (a lot of this will be shaped by working opportunities) My wife has always preferred Tel Aviv, although my wife is every inch the secular Jew and I guess that’s why she prefers it to Jerusalem.


    • Technically, and according to the Rabbinate, he is Jewish. However, the Rabbinate is known for giving such children a very, very hard time. In general, the Rabbinate makes it very difficult for immigrants to prove they are Jewish.

      The entire center of Israel has the most job opportunities.

      • Thank you for replying. I have my in laws ketubah and they were married in an othrdox Shul. I assume this would be enough to prove his mums side of the family are “halachly” Jewish should he need to in the future? Also although my conversion is not reconigised from a religious stand point by the state am i right in thinking I can become a citizen as: my wife is halachly Jewish, my father is halachly Jewish, I completed a conversion that is recognised in the context of the law of return.

        We go to Shul as a family, Is there much of a non orthodox Infrastructure? I know it’s not state funded but i swear i walked past a conservative Shul in tel Aviv?

      • There are non-Orthodox synagogues; however, they are not equally funded by the government. There is a conservative synagogue in Tel Aviv and other communities. You just need to search for them.

        In general, the Rabbinute is hard on all immigrants.

  154. jessica hi i am a 65 yr old senior i get social security $690 a month can i still go Aliyah i live in the usa detroit

  155. if you can prove you are Jewish, then you can make aliyah. Money doesn’t matter however, Israel has become very expensive in the larger cities

  156. thank u jessica,
    i been to israel 6 times in the 60’s and 70’s
    when i was in my 20’s and almost went aliyah back in 71
    at the san francisco jewish federation office, thank u for the information

  157. My husband and I have decided to make aliyah, but we are nervous about finding jobs with enough time to pay our bills. My husband has a bachelors in computer/business management, with no experience in his field (but he has worked consistently in customer service for 4 years) and speaks hebrew fluently. I however am a cake decorator and have no degree and speak only enough Hebrew to convey the simplest of thoughts. I was wondering how long it took average olim in both circumstances to find jobs also what was the average pay?

    • I think the amount of time it takes to get a job is based on skill sets and experience. Many olim don’t work for the first 5 months, but instead take intensive Hebrew Ulpan. The government has programs set up which help ease the financial strain, but no eliminate it.

  158. I need a rabbi to help me with getting proof of my jewish ancestry so i can make aliyah this fall. Please help

    • Try getting in touch with ITIM

  159. jessica do u recommend shipping a flat screen tv from the usa
    and is israeli tv have alot of american cable channels,
    thank u

    • No. bu one here. There are some American shows here, but you can get just about anything online these days.

  160. I am 31 years old. I’m an Israeli citizen, I have some family in Israel, and I speak hebrew well enough to understand the news. Do u think that I can still volunteer for the military? Will they even take me?

    • You will not be drafted. You can try to volunteer, but it is very unlikely.

  161. Hi, amazing blog. I have spent the last 6 hours reading every post, thx! I spent time in israel on a kibuttz in 1978 and 1988 and always felt attachment to Israel…but loved my life in Canada. The situation in the last few months has stirred up so much inside of me and I am seriously thinking about making Aliyah, but i am really concerned about the transition and getting employment at 54 yrs old. I only know really basic hebrew (really basic, like I can order a falafel…not much more, lol) but am very aware of ulpan and confident with that (I speak french as a 2nd language as well). But I have gone through major financial problems here and will be basically coming with no savings at all…maybe $3k at most. (life happens…I have to re-build, either here in Canada or there in Israel). I get that money makes the world go round and obviously much easier to move there if you can set yourself up. I know there is gov’t assistance that would help me as olim, but my real question is, can a single guy at 54 arrive with nothing and really make a life for themself? Broad question, I know, but on my mind. Obv so much more details to know, but have been successful here all my life in high tech sales and in real estate as career experience. Lol, can you help, so many thoughts going through my head of starting a new life in Israel…..

    • It might be possible, but it will be really, really, really difficult. Try checking out Nefesh B’Nefesh.

      • Thx for the reply….lol…not so encouraging but an honest answer which I appreciate. I forgot to ask this: can someone making Aliyah join a kibbutz and become a member? I understand that there are programs for young volunteers, but are people making Aliyah ever accepted as members?

      • Not sure about this one. Sorry.

  162. yes, there are many Canadian/Israeli

  163. Hi there. here comes a more complicated case.

    I am jewish, born in the former Soviet Union.
    My parents made Aliyah when i was a newborn, but left the country again when i was 4. I get US citizenship when i was 10.

    When i was 16 my parents revoked the Israeli citizenships of all family (i didnt know about that). I had never israeli passport but was citizen by the Aliyah automatically and registered with my mom.

    Now i am 40. I am married; my wife is halachish not Jewish as father is Jewish, but mother not.
    She was born in the Californai and holds US citizenship.

    We want to make Aliyah, so that she can make orthodox Giur there and our children raise Jewish.
    I seem to be eligible to second Aliyah as Katin Chozer.
    How about my wife and 4 years daughter?

    Any advice?

    • I’m not sure about your aliyah, but the partner and children of an immigrant can make aliyah with the immigrant. But in any case, your wife, having a Jewish father, has the right of return. I suggest reading up on the Rabbinate conversion process, it is really difficult and can be very demeaning.

  164. Hi,

    I am intending to make Aliyah asap & obviously need to plan my move as well as possible, I have a cat that I’d like to bring with me but as I am approaching the age of 45 & single I will probably be located in an absorption centre where pets are not allowed, my cat will need homing temporarily whilst I make Aliyah so I need to find homing for him one way or another, I also don’t know what my options are as in the recent past I would have been located in the absorption centre in Ra’anana but as far as I can see on the Aliyah/Nefesh B’Nefesh / Jewish Agency website there is lack of information on where a 45 year old would be taking ulpan, I have not yet contacted the agency here in the UK yet although they have all my details from a previous application I made a few years ago but didn’t complete, any info would be welcome, thanks x

    • I highly suggest not living in an absorption center for multiple reasons and finding an apartment close to ulpan. I don’t think ulpans are limited by age.

  165. is it possible to make aliyah if u have never been to israel before?

    • Yes, many people in the past have made Aliyah without eing to Israel, Jewish Iraqis, Iranians, Ethiopians, Russians. But it might make sense to spend some time in the country if you can.

  166. highly recommended to do a pilot project. Life in Israel is not easy

  167. dear aliyah survivor i thank you very much for this website i am an american Jew and want nothing more than to become a IDF soldier and spend at least a decade in it. I am conflicted about all of this though as i am unfamiliar with rules and regulations as i have yet to obtain Israeli citizenship so to start this off i would like to ask various questions first off i am currently finishing up my paramedic classes. so my first question would be could my skill set be of any use to me when trying to negotiate the particular jobs and career path i want. and second in the U.S. forces lets say the navy to simplify this you can work out a special contract if you meet requirements as to say get into a the navy seals would Israel offer a contract for extended military service to get into the sayerot programs and if so would a non born Israeli be eligible for that contract?

    • also just as an extended informative note i will be approximately 20 years old by the time i enter into Israel so about a year and a half from now and i am expecting to do mandatory service after receiving citizenship within the infantry for my mandatory service and then asking for a contract for additional service.

    • The army will take into account what you have to offer and what it needs. There is a possibility to sign on for additional years, especially as an officer – but again this will depend on the army’s needs.

  168. Hi! I converted to Judaism as my daughter was 9 years old and made aliyah last year. My daughter who has lived with her father for a number of years is taking action to come live with me. She is 16 years old, under which status will she live here with me. How will she be registered for the army and will she be a candidate for the army conversion program (as she is considering it)? She is in her last year of high school in France, how will it work for her to get the Bagrut? Her knowledge of Hebrew is very basic but she is fluent in 3 languages and learns languages very quickly. Thank you for this great blog!!!

    • Is your daughter’s biological father Jewish? This is a complicated situation if not, and I’m honestly not sure how to answer this. Sorry.

  169. Hi! I am planning aliyah from India. I have a 4 year pet dog – Lasha Apso. I would like to bring him into Israel with me. But I was told that the ulpans do not allow dogs?? What should I do?? Rentals are very HIGH !! I cannot leave my dog back in India. Please advice

    • This is a hard situation. I suggest you try to go to Ulpan in a city that is less expensive and try to find a part time job while at Ulpan so that you can live in an apartment.

  170. Hi Jessica, do you have any experience in getting tax benefits retroactively? Or do you know anyone who offers tax assistance? I understand it is possible, but feel a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of dealing with the mas hachnasah office!

    • Sorry, no such luck. You’re best bet is a tax accountant.

  171. Thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions!

    I am making Aliyah and am thinking of doing a kibbutz ulpan, because it seems like the most affordable option. However, I am a little afraid I will feel isolated and older than most of the ulpanists. Have you heard of anyone switching ulpans if one did not work for them? (either from kibbutz to city, or just one program to another).

    Thanks so much,


    • I personally have not heard about this, but ulpans typically have a variety of age ranges. Typically, in Israel, if you make a big enough fuss about something you can eventually get your way.

  172. Hi,
    I’m planning to make Alyah from France in December. But I was supposed to go traveling with Israeli friends to Vietnam for two or three months. Am I allowed to make Alyah and then leave the country in something like January for a few months? The Jewish agency said that I can’t cause I will receive my passport one year after making Alyah but they didn’t seem to really know. And on the nefesh benefesh website they say I can travel abroad the first three months after making Alyah with my french passport and then until I get my Israeli passport I need to organize ask for a specific travel documentation which means that I am allowed to go abroad.
    I’d like to be sure about it cause if I can’t go traveling for two months I might postpone my Alyah after my trip. But of course I’d prefer to make Alyah first and then go traveling.

    Thanks a lot 🙂

    • There is something called a Teudat Ma’avar that you can get from the Misrad Ha’panim. You can travel abroad with this before you receive your Israeli passport; however, I believe you need to wait 3 months for this.

  173. I am a licensed English language teacher in the USA. Would any alya survivors help me to find out if I could teach English at a public school in Israel without passing any required state tests in Hebrew. Thanks

  174. Hi again i am a previous inquirer. so here is the thing i have lived as long as i can remember in a way where i have embraced m Jewish roots. I defended myself when i needed to at times where i found myself confronted with discrimination and hate. I know my family on my mothers side is Jewish because they practiced and talked frequently about it. Unfortunately they were also very poor record keepers. i Have talked with nefesh but have not started the application process .from what i understand i am to provide paperwork to liaison personnel so my concern is whether or not i will be able to find whatever it is they are looking for. as i do not wish to start the registration process yet due to me still working towards my paramedic certification i was hoping you might be able to provide me with a list of what they might possibly require.

    Also on a completely unrelated note I took notice that the Israel Fire and Rescue Services is a separate entity from Magen David Adom. I could be wrong in this matter as my data comes from their respected Wikipedia pages but if not could you tell me if it is unheard of for members of each group do any form of cross training to refine i mean do the paramedics also become firefighters and vice versa whether it be a personal pursuit or departmental continued education options. thank you in advance for answering my inquiries

    • There are a number of types of proofs you can offer, your parents’ ketuba, a letter from a rabbi, etc. I don’t know regarding the connection between the Fire and Rescue and MDA, but it does sound reasonable that they are separate entities with different training.

  175. Hey, If I go to the army married and collect 4000 shek a month. Can my wife do something like sharut leume and also make that kind of money because she’s married. Or is it only one person only can colect for both? And I that’s the case, does she need to work at all?

    • She could join Sherut Leumi. I’m not as familiar with this. Not sure if you can join if you are married and I don’t know the “salary.” Either way, 8K is very hard to live on.

  176. My mother arrived in British Mandate Palestine as a 6 year old with her family in 1926. She remained there until after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. She married myy British father and left Israel in 1949 as my father was a serving British soldier and his work took him all over the world. At the time, it was felt it would be easier for my mother to travel on a British passport which she obtained on marriage. My father sadly died in 1972 while working in Germany and my mother returned to Israel. I recently asked the Israeli Embassy here in the UK if I could apply for an Israeli passport based on the fact that I presumed my mother was an Israeli citizen from the time of the establishment of the State in 1948 when she still resided there. They are saying that as she was not there in 1952 (Nationality Act), I was not born (1950) to an Israeli mother. I am astounded at this. She resided there from 1926-1949 and if she was not automatically Israeli on 14.5.1948, what was she?

    • I’m not familiar with this situation or the Nationality Act. If you are interested in obtaining Israeli citizenship, you can do so by making aliyah.

  177. Dear Jessica,

    My name is Christopher, I am in the conversion process of Judaism, even though my maternal side is mostly Jewish (I was raised non-religiously). If I make the Aliyah, will the State of Israel recognize the degrees I received in the United States? I have a bachelors from Western Illinois University and two masters from Western Illinois University and the University of Texas, plus I am in the process of getting my special education degree.

    What about IDF service, will I be to old, I will be around 38 if I do come. Military service is no big deal to me, I served in the American Army for 13 years, starting at age 17(1997). Along the way I ended up doing 31 months in Iraq as an infantryman, so I couldn’t imagine the IDF being anymore difficult (beside language differences).

    How does cost of living compare to the United States? Is it easy to fit in?

    I do not have Jewish first name, will my name cause me to ostracized or ridiculed? Not that it matters, I have developed thick skin over the years….

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions,


    • Regarding conversion – You may not have to convert to make aliyah if you have one grandparent who is Jewish. You will just need to show proof. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of the different types of conversions – i.e. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform.

      Regardig your degrees, typically Israel will recognize your degrees. There is a conversion process that is mainly bureacratic for your degrees.

      You will not be drafted for IDF service. Language is a big issue. It is not about capability, but more about the financial implications of age. The older you are the less it makes sense for the IDF to draft you. It is simply a cost benefit ratio.

      Cost of living is higher, wages are lower in Israel. The Israeli secular population is accepting of foreigners. Langauge is a big barrier to fitting in.

      Your name won’t cause you to be ostracized or riducled, but it will imply that you are a foreigner. Additionaly, Christopher is a very Christian name.

      Best of luck.

  178. First, let me say thank you SO much for your Q&A on this blog, as well as the insightful stories! I’m most definitely buying your book:)

    My question: what do you know about using DNA as the only “proof ” to apply for citizenship? My Grandmother was evidently Jewish (but has passed) and was extremely closed – mouthed about her family…so needless to say my DNA results filled in a few gaps. ….but there are no family records to prove anything. I suspect that her father was an anti-semite, so it’s not suprising that this woman – who i saw only a handful of times in my life- never spoke of it. I am in my 40’s, and it seems that traditional Aliyah is not for those over 35 (i suppose that equates to childbearing age).

    I have the resources to travel to Israel, buy a home, can support myself while looking for a job, i don’t really need any government support. I would, however, like the right of citizenship for myself, my husband, and adult child. We have decided to attend the local Messianic synagoge to determine if that community is right for us, but are not currently members of a Judaic congregation.

    Do you think that such applications based on DNA are being considered? Whether we convert to Messianic Judaism should not be a factor, although being financially able to support ourselves until we learn Hebrew should count in our favor! Thanks for your time in answering – you’ve taught me quite a bit before I even buy the book.

    • DNA is not an accepted as proof. Additionally, “Messianic Judaism” is not accepted as a form of Judaism in Israel and a conversion through any type of Messianic stream would not afford you citizenship in Israel. As far as your adult child, he would have to go through the same processes as you to receive citizenship. Best of luck.

  179. Hello, I am 30 years old and considering Aliyah. My father’s side of the family is Jewish, my mother’s is not. I understand that this is enough for Israeli citizenship but not for marriage. Are there other things that my lineage will exclude me from? Also, I read somewhere that on Israeli ID cards it is written if a person is Jewish or not, I presume that this is according to the orthrodox Israeli Rabbinate. Is this true? Thank you for your help.

    • Hello Igor, Yes, this is sadly true, but hopefully things will change. The main things that this will affect are: birth, marriage and burrial. As you stated, you will not be able to be married in Israel. You also will not be able to be burried in a Jewish cemetary that the Rabbinute runs. This is not true regarding the Israeli ID card. There is a long history regarding this, but instead you are given stars. You would have all the stars that any other Jew would have.

  180. Do u have to have had a bnei mitzvah to be an aliyah

    • No, a bar mitzvah is not a prerequisite.

  181. Hi you’re blog is great, I’ve read most of the questions to see if the answers to my questions are are but gave up about half way through, I did find a bit about bitua leumi.

    Currently I am a A-1 temporary visa holder, and am considering making aliyah.

    I live with my girlfriend I met here, but we would like to travel to the states and possible move there.

    I am a bit concerned to make Aliyah and leave me temporary residence status, sure the financial benifits sound nice, but I grew up with the phrase “theres no such thing as a free lunch”

    I’m currently not working, but am wondering if I will have a bunch more taxes to pay if I make aliyah, or any other surprises you might know of?

    A friend told me it’s 250 shekels a month for the national health insurance, does this come out of a paycheck or would I be required to pay no matter if I am earning anything or not.

    Any info would be helpful!! Thanks.

    • Taxes are high when you have an income.

      If you are not working, you would be required to pay it directly. If you are working, it comes out of your paycheck.

  182. Hi! I am a 21 year old woman with an israeli passport who has lived in the US her whole life. I am about to graduate from university with a degree in Psychology. I am hoping to move back to Israel after graduating in order to join the army so I would be 22 at the time. Do you think it’s still possible? Would they be able to put me in a psychiatric unit for soldiers coming out of battle? or even to just serve in the regular forces? Any advice would be great!

    • I do think it is still possible. However, you will need to go to the drafting office and demand to be drafted. There is a chance that you could be a kaban, but there is also a chance you will be drafted somewhere else. you will just need to fight for what you want. Kee in mind that you will need to go through bootcamp and a training course and possibly officers course.

  183. Hello
    My daughter would like to volunteer in the IDF. I have however not been able to establish whether she may stay in Israel after she has concluded her 18 months service. She may like to study in Israel in the year after the army, would this be possible if she has not completed 2 years of IDF service?

    • If she makes aliyah, yes she will be able to stay. If she makes aliyah after 18 she would not be automatically drafted into the army and would be able to study.

  184. Hello, I am a 64 year old man currently applying for Aliyah. I want to get my own place in Tel Aviv. Once I become a citizen of Israel , how long must I wait for medical insurance and how much it will cost me? I plan on going to Olem until I learn Hebrew,
    Thank You
    p.s. Is 120K NIS a year enough to live on?
    This is the total of my pensions from the US

    • 120K is considered very good in Israel, but it will not get you the same level as you are used to in the US. Things cost more. People make less also. I think you receive medical insurance immediately. Do you mean ulpan versus olem?

  185. How are you enjoying Israel now?

    • It still has its ups and downs. 🙂

  186. Hi there,

    I’m currently looking at making aliyah from the U.S. The question I have is regarding my status. I made Aliyah when I was younger but left about a month or two before my 15th birthday. Does that mean that when I make aliyah again, I will not receive any benefits due to me being 14 and 3/4?

    • I believe you would be considered a katin chozer, which would make you eligible for different benefits.

  187. Hi,

    I’m making Aliyah from the U.S. The question I have is regarding status. I made Aliyah when I was younger with family and I left about two months before my 15th birthday. I was wondering if because I left when I was close to 15 years old, but still 14, I may not receive benefits as other Olim?

  188. I made aliyah about two years ago but I did not have a drivers license, now on a recent visit to the united states i made a license do I have any use what so ever here in israel or do I have to go through the process from the beginning? (written test 28 lessons and so on)
    I hope you have some good advice

    • If you want to drive in Israel, then yes, you will need to go through the process. Back when I made aliyah, if you already had a foreign license, you only needed to transfer it, which was less effort. Not sure if this is still true today.

  189. Hey Jessica,

    Love the blog! Do you still live in Israel? I’m moving in a few weeks. Wanted to ask your opinion of the dating life there.

    If you still live there and want to go for coffee to chit chat about life that would be amazing as well! LMK, Natali

  190. Hello,

    I wrote a post earlier regarding my status.

    I made Aliyah with my family and left when I was close to the age of 15.

    I have been given the status of gorer zakaut and have been given all aliyah benefits except for a flight to Israel.
    Regarding a flight to Israel, does this happen often for a gorer zakaut ( offered benefits except a flight) ? And can this decision be appealed?

    I don’t mind paying for a flight, I just found it off that they would offer me all the Aliyah benefits except a flight to Israel.

    • *found it odd

      • Sorry, I’ve never heard of this status, so I can’t offer any insight. I’m familiar with the katin chozer status, but not sure about the flight being paid for the katin chozer status either.

  191. Hi,
    So I am hereditarily jewish (my father and his parents …etc were religiously jews and left Germany during the holocaust). However, I am not a religious jew. How does the Law of Return apply in my circumstance and would my children be able to come with me?
    Thank you.

    • Unless you have converted to another religion, you would be eligible for aliyah and so would your children

  192. Can you tell me what the difference is between a Messianic Jew and a Christian?

    • Their name might be the only difference. Don’t know enough about the cult

  193. Hi Jessica,
    I was wondering, does Israel have programs for special needs children? I have a non-verbal classic autistic son. He is so beautiful and a complete joy to me. He just turned 7 years old yesterday.
    How would his disability affect our aliyah?
    Thank you so much!

    • Sorry, but I don’t know. It might be best to ask Nefesh B’Nefesh.

  194. Hi Jessica, I am currently a graduate student who is thinking about joining the IDF for a career. I am very high achieving, and still considering other options than the IDF, which, in addition to some medical issues that I would prefer not to discuss online in an open forum, makes me wonder if I could get in touch further via email. Thanks,

    • As a lone soldier, you will make about 4K NIS per month, about $1K per month. This is not much for a career. If you are chosen to be an officer, you will make a bit more. If you are chosen to stay on as a nco after your mandatory service, then you will make a bit more. However, all of this depends on your age, profile, and eligibility.

  195. Hi! I am so glad I found your blog! I 24, living in Minneapolis, and your story seems to be like my life. I would love to talk with you about your experience. Reading your blog came at the best possible time. Let me know if we can connect!


    • So happy to hear you like the blog. You should also check out my book that is coming out! Chutzpah and High Heels.

  196. My wife an I made a decision to aliyah I do have some Jewish blood in me she doesn’t she was convicted on some drug charges a few years back will that be a problem for us or not need some info thanks

    • I’m not sure. It might, but it might not. If you have at least one Jewish grandparent then you are eligible to make aliyah.

  197. Hi. From what age oleh hadash doesn’t need to serve in the army?

    • It depends on your physical health, marital status, and gender. You can check out this information on the nefesh b’nefesh site.

  198. Hello, I am interested in serving for the IDF and feel a strong obligation to help out Israel. I am from the United States and I was not born from a Jewish parent at least not that I know of. How do I become a Jew at a synagogue? Are there certain requirements such as a certain length of time? And when I make Aliyah what benefits will I receive?

    • You can undergo a conversion, but make sure you understand the different types of streams of Judaism and how it will impact your rights as a Jew in Israel. The type of conversion will impact the length of time for the conversion. I believe you would have to live in the community you convert in for at least a year before moving to Israel. There are a lot of benefits you receive, but you should check that out on the Nefesh B’Nefesh site. However, being drafted will eventually depend on your age when you make aliyah, your marital status, and health.

  199. Hi,

    I am a pensioner Jewish women living in Australia. I would like to spend at least 3-4 months every year in Israel. I am Australian citizen, but I will like very much to be and Israeli citizen too. I will not be a financial burden on Israel as I have my Australian pension to live on . Should I make an Aliyah to be a resident and Israeli citizen there or just come on tourist visa? Could I rent an apartment there without be resident of Israel?

    Thank you!’
    Sarah Nurit A. Trifoi

    • I’m unsure of what the pros and cons of being a citizen versus coming on a tourist visa would be. I’m sure there would be issues with taxes. I’m also unsure what the limitation of a tourist visa is. You can definitely rent an apartment without being a citizen.

  200. Hi! I wanted to know if the biological parents of small children don’t make aliyah from the US but live in Israel, can the children be given Israeli Citizenship and recieve the benefits?


    • I don’t know.

  201. Hello,
    If my family and I accept the benefits from the ministry of absorption and leave Israel for good, 3 mo later or 6 mo later, do we need to pay anything back? We don’t plan on coming back, just wanted to know if there are any obstacles if we wanted to leave after a few months?
    Where can I find this information?
    How long does someone need to stay in Israel after receiving help from the Ministry, to where they dont need to pay anything back and the aid will just stop.
    Someone please shed some light.
    Thank you!

    • Sorry, but I don’t know this information. You used to have to pay back your money to Nefesh B’Nefesh if you got a “scholarship” from them if you left Israel less than 5 years after making aliyah. I don’t know if there is something similar for the government.

  202. Hi.
    I was wondering if anyone/you knew who absorbed the records from High bridge Jewish Center (1959) in Bronx, New York.
    I know that this is a long shot but also figured that alot of people read your blog.
    My father was Jewish but the Rabbi has passed away and my father died almost 20 years ago now. 😕
    Those records are probably my best chance at proving my heritage.

    • You should talk to an organization called ITIM.

      • Sorry! My reply posted on someone else’s comment.
        Would you happen to know how to get in touch with ITIM? I tried to locate contact info and have not found it. I did find a location somewhere in Long Island but couldn’t find a mailing address either.
        Thank you Jessica!

  203. Hi
    I made Aliyah and I received very few help for my studies. Because I was in Israel for 6 months doing a mechina at Bar Ilan, I then made Aliyah and never received help for the mechina. I had to borrow money from a bank and am now paying my debt every months.
    I’m struggling financially. I have received some money from the Aliyah but it was only 16000 chekel and went straight toward my studies at bar Ilan.
    Every months I have to pay extensive amount of money from my pocket for my loan for that mechina program I am finished with already. On top of this I have to provide for food and rent and also pay for my school fees( bar Ilan).

    It is way too much and I am unable to focus on my studies.
    I am thinking of moving out of Israel and try and find a better solution for my studies. A place with a better scholarship and where I could focus on my studies.

    The problem is that in 2 years I have to do the army. But they won’t let me leave the country to study elsewhere.

    Do you have any advice? Can I just tell them I do not want to be Israeli anymore? What are my options?

    I am from France, made Aliyah from there and I now want to go to the U.S. And study there.

    Let me know


  204. Thank you so much Jessica!
    Would you happen to know how to get in touch with them? I tried Google and couldn’t find a phone number or email address.


  205. Thank you! 🙂

  206. I am really considering this program to relocate to Israel from south of Chicago. what is the age limits because I am 37 and single and ready to go now? Thanx for answering anyone!

    • I don’t know which program you are talking about….

  207. someone I know is in Yerushalayim, and she’s scheduled to leave tonight just after midnight. She doesn’t want to leave!
    She applied with Nefesh B Nefesh, but she still has some paperwork to get in the states. She can’t make guided Aliyah because her conversion was done only 5 months ago.
    She can find a place to stay until the 4th when she gets paid, but she doesn’t want to stay only to have to leave.
    Do you know of any way she can get NBN to allow her to remain here under guided Aliyah or any other agency? She will need their help with Hebrew classes and to become a citizen with an ID card and insurance.
    Can you help her at all?
    Thanks so much!

  208. Hey aliyah survivor. Im from mexico city and in 1 month and a half im doing aliyah. As you may remember. Im starting to feel really nervous. Asking myself about my future in Israel. Asking myself about everything. But the only sure answer that i have is that i most be strong. If you could tell me about your future, any tips, anything will help. Thanks.

    • It isn’t jail. You can leave whenever you want.
      Life here is hard. Be ready for it. Stay strong and positive.

  209. Hello,
    I am a 19 year old Jewish male, currently converting to reform Judaism in the U.S., does my letter of conversion have to be from an orthodox rabbi or will a reform rabbi’s letter work for Aaliyah? Also, when I do make it to the IDF as a Lone Soldier, can I volunteer for Tzanchanim or will the army choose to send me there? And if they do not, for example if they choose to put me in another brigade like Kfir or Golani, can I choose to be transferred to Paratroopers? Also, once I make it into Tzanchanim how do I go about joining special forces? Do I volunteer for this? I have completed an intermediate level of Hebrew, and I’m working on this everyday, learning up to 50 words a day. I also study Arabic on the side because of its usefulness in that region.
    P.s. I’m 6’0, 175lbs., I can run a mile in 5 minutes, and can do as many sit-ups, pushups and pull ups as it takes to get selected. My vision is 20/20 and I have no health problems whatsoever. I have graduated highschool with a high GPA and when I arrive in Israel, I will have acquired an associates degree in Computer Programming. Thanks in advance for any reply.

    • A letter from a Reform Rabbi is fine for aliyah. Yes, you can volunteer, but this does not guarantee that you’ll be accepted.

  210. Hello! Wow are you informative!! So I live in Seattle, Washington and the only Temples here are Refirm Judiasm where I will be getting my conversion letter. Is this acceptable in Israel?

    Also, I am living on Sosial Security Disability. Will I be allowed to keep it making Aliyah? Or will I have to go the dual citizen rought? Either way my only desire is to move to Israel.

    Thank you,

    • Yes, a Reform conversion is accepted by the state of Israel for aliyah purposes.
      I don’t know regarding social security disability.

  211. Hi there. I’m gonna be 24 in April and want to join the IDF. I’ve contacted Garin Tzbar, an excellent organization for Lone Soldiers. Only thing is when I talked to them they put SO much emphasis on my age and when I talked to my representative, they brought up the same thing you did (getting bossed around by those way younger than me, young enough as 18) and I’m just like well souls don’t always align with their ages…does the age difference really make that much of an impact? Because they were making me feel like the Granny McGee of the century and if I were to join I may as well wear my olive green uniform with a walker w/ tennis balls. Is it still worth it to join this late in the game? I can’t be the only almost quarter century year old person in the IDF! I just want to do something incredibly meaningful with my life as well as live in a place I live while supporting myself!

    • It does make a pretty big difference, but you will not be the only one. It would sort of be like going back to college and hanging out with freshmen. Also, at 25, it can be pretty painful doing kitchen duty and having a 19 year old who still gets his underwear washed my his mom telling you that you aren’t cleaning the pots well enough. But, if you want to do it, you should try. Being in the army definitely helps with aliyah success.

  212. Hi there, I want to make aliyah with my husband and kids. My mother was born in Israel in 1949, my grandparents left Israel in the early fifties. I was born in Brazil, but was never registered at the Israeli consulate by my mother. Now, I am Canadian and will move from Canada to Israel. I was told that I need to be registered to get an Israeli passport to go to Israel. I asked my mom to contact the Israeli consulate in Brazil to do it for me. She was told that they only registered children of Israelis until they are 28 years old. I am 39. Another issue is that I would be required to be there in Brazil to do it. Is there any other way that I can immigrate without having to go to Brazil for this? thanks

    • I recommend you checking with Nefesh B’Nefesh.

  213. Hi, my modern orthodox daughter and son-in-law (recently married, no children) are on an Aliyah fact finding trip (starting their career/finding their first community) as per their nefesh be nefesh counselor.

    However, they are a bit frustrated, although not totally surprised, because nearly everyone they speak with tells them how next to impossible it is to start a career and find affordable housing based on what they will be making. While it is extremely important to be “realistic,” there are plenty of people who have survived Aliyah and not had to leave. So the general advice is useful – but only up to a point.

    I have recommended to my children that they ask people their age how they made and survived Aliyah: specifically “how the young people did it” (e.g., how did they start a career and how did they work out housing, at least in the short term, given their unique circumstances). Perhaps, in this way my children can learn more about the common survival skills necessary for a successful Aliyah and adapt them to their own strengths and personalities.

    I think my kids can use a “survival guide to making a successful Aliyah” with actual stories and advice from people who recently went through the process. If none exists, maybe someone should write one! I would appreciate any other suggestions as to blogs, stories, etc. I am writing this for my children, but also because I think they are many readers of your blog with the same questions/concerns.

    Nefesh be nefesh is great, but it extends only so far. Realistic advice is important but it must be coupled with advice as to next steps and managing difficulties.

  214. This is a follow-up to my previous comment:

    My wife and I read one of the most depressing articles on Aliyah that was just posted in Times of Israel:

    The upshot of the article is as follows: unless you are in certain high-paying careers (very limited) or your a funded by your family, you cannot survive in Israel in most careers. Bottom line.

    As you will recall my daughter and son-in-law just made a Nefesh b Nefesh pre-aliyah “scounting” trip and were pretty much told the same thing. However, I stand by my judgment that people do make it, but the question is how and what cost in terms of living standards, and physical and mental health. At the very least there should be some real world survival guide based on the fact that living costs are so high and salaries are so low. Also there should be support groups to help people make it through the tough years.

    I showed the article to my son who has made Aliyah, is in the US with us for a few months, and will be going back to start his army service. He said I should take the article with a grain of salt.

    I understand that housing prices and living costs are amazingly high, but the question is, first of all, are we setting up our kids for failure and second of all, what is the work around the situation. I’m not saying there is an easy fix (i.e. win the lottery or adopt a wealthy grandparent); however, based on the article it seems plain impossible to make Aliyah unless you are backed financially or in a very narrow career band..

    I think Nefesh be nefesh needs to respond to this article forcefully and in great detail!!!!


  215. Hello

    I am considering making Aliyah (from the UK) as a single, 55 year old, disabled person. Might you be able to offer me any supportive information/advice? My field of expertise is in Interfaith Ministry and Nonsectarian Spirituality. I very much look forward to hearing back from you.

    Yours in appreciation and with respect,
    Soham Namaskar

    Blessings upon blessings to you all herein.

    • I’m sorry but I don’t have any experience or information on this. Best of luck.

  216. Thanks for taking the time for answering our questions regarding joining the Israel Defense Forces.
    This is my question, I am 33 years old, i am a triathlete, I speak 6 languages, I am non Jewish non Israeli, i would like to join the Israeli Defense Forces perhaps maybe even for the remainder of my life in a fighting unit, what are my chances of the Israeli Defense Forces taking me in as one of their own??
    Thank you for your time, Shavua Tov.

    • Basically zero

  217. I did Aliyah 3.5y ago, and during this period end in larger debt with banks. I was paying all on time till recently when I had to go back and deal with issue and likely to spend a year with surgical operation and recovery time.
    Tried to talk to the banks and lower down monthly payments, however they are not so sympathetic. Do you know what options and is there any way to get helped to deal with financial issues, I am willing to keep payments but to bare minimum which I can pay now. As if they would register me with Israeli collection department no way I would come back and be locked up in country as everyone told me you lose ability to travel abroad completely till whole amount paid off.

    • Sorry to hear about your difficulties. I would suggest talking to a financial adviser.

  218. Bankruptcy possible ?

  219. My father’s wife is Israeli so having an apartment in Israel we often go there. We aleays dreamt to establish the centre of our life in Eretz but we both work a lot in Europe and we travel a lot.
    Is it possible making aliyah and travel over the continents at the same time?
    We couldn’t give up traveling not even three months, our jobs are all over the planet. At the same time, we’d like to have roots in Israel.
    My wife is the daughter of an Israeli man so she has only to get her passport, but as far I’m concerned is different, I should stop working for at least six months.
    I need advice…

    • I don’t understand your question or what you need advice on.

  220. Hi
    I am planning on making Alyah at the beginning of September. As my mother holds Israeli citizenship I have to apply for an Israeli passport and will be considered an Ezrachit Olah. At the time of making Alyah I will be 22 years old. I am female. Will I have to serve in the army? The informations I am receiving at the moment are all contradicting each other. Could you please clarify if you know the answer. Many thanks in advance.

    • If you submitted the proper paperwork to the Embassy when you were 18, then definitely not. If you didn’t there is still a minor chance.

  221. hi, i’m drafting in august, but i want to travel to south africa before then. is it possible? should i get permission from the army or something?

    thanks 🙂

    • I personally did not have an issue with this. I was able to leave for a week to visit my family, but there are typically limits.

  222. Hi. So my case is now at the ministry of interior and simultaneously at the ministry of absorption. Should I see that as a positive sign in regards to my approval for aliyah.

    • You might as well. 🙂

  223. Hi,
    I am making alya tomorrow and I just changed my mind I want to have the Visa A1. What will happen to me if I don’t make alya ? Will they give me the visa a1 ? Will it cost me any problems ? I’m Very scared


  224. Hello,
    Currently I’m doing the Machal program.
    If I finish I want to go travel for about 5 month but what if I then decide to make Aliya ? How long would I have to serve ? Where would I be assigned to ?

    Thanks for the answer !

    • I’m not sure you will have to. If you do, it would probably deepened on your age and how long you served in machal.

  225. Hello there 🙂

    Do you know if benefits for new olim also apply to people married to Israelis? My partner is Israeli and I’m Italian. We are planning to get married and then move to Israel. I am Jewish and would be making aliyah, so I wondered if being married to an Israeli citizen would limit the benefits the Ministry for Absorption offers.



    • I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if it did though.

  226. Hi I am applying for NBN to make Aliyah I was wondering how much time does it take to get accepted and be able to get a flight? Thanks

    • It can take up to a couple of months.

  227. I am An italian surgeon of 66 And in The Next Month i Will be an ole HaDash .i am still working in italy and i can Not stay in israel for more than 1 month .in this situation am i eligible for the right To the aquisition of a House?

    • I don’t know. But keep in mind, that when you make aliyah you have to stay in the country for a certain amount of time and you will also only get a teudat ma’avar in the beginning, not a passport.

  228. OhmyGosh! I will be making Aliyah also…

    My question is about Housing. I do not want to live alone in Israel. Is there Housing with another woman that is also Available?? Would this be OK ?

    Thank you,


    • Yeah, get a roommate…

  229. Hi

    Im 20 years old and I’m from germany
    Few weeks ago I went to the jewish Agency in Berlin
    Everything is well
    Also I want to marry Next year. He is Not jewish, but after our marriage we want Do the Aliyah together as a married couple

    What we have to note as a married couple?

    • You will be able to make aliyah. I believe that you husband will only receive resident status, but I am not sure. Please keep in mind that there is some discrimination in Israel to people who are not Jewish.

      • Actually the spouse gets full citizenship too. Even the non-Jewish widower/widower of a deceased Jewish spouse is also still eligible for aliyah, as long as they haven’t yet remarried.

        If you would have been subject to the Nuremberg laws, you’re eligible for the Law of Return, even if you’re not halachically Jewish. Any Jew by either their mother’s or their father’s side and that person’s spouse or widow/widower; any child or grandchild of a Jew on either their mother’s or father’s side (the Jewish parent/grandparent can be living or dead) and their spouse or widow/widower, are all eligible for aliyah.

        You can be the non-Jewish widow of someone who had a paternal Jewish grandfather (since that paternal grandfather would have been born of a Jewish mother, and was thus Jewish) and you would be eligible for full citizenship, if you hadn’t remarried.

        There’s hundreds of thousands of Russians who aren’t halachically Jewish but are Israeli, so it’s not like your husband will be the lone non-Jew living in a Jewish culture. Once married and a citizen, your husband will be eligible to undertake Orthodox conversion in Israel if you want (non-citizens usually can’t convert inside Israel, but must do so in another country.) The Rabbinate can make your Orthodox conversion inside or outside Israel a living nightmare if they want, and only Orthodox conversions are officially recognized for life cycle events, but the State of Israel, for legal purposes such as aliyah, honors all Reform and Conservative conversions performed outside Israel, so your husband can be fully Jewish as a convert as far as the Reform/Conservative movements are concerned, and then add an Orthodox conversion on top of that if he wants, thus hedging his bets, so if the Rabbinate decides they don’t like his Orthodox Rabbi years later, at least his Conservative/Reform conversion still stands. Sometimes the Rabbinate will invalidate an Orthodox conversion years and years after the fact (they can’t touch Reform/Conservative, since they don’t recognize them), disrupting people’s lives and suddenly turning someone’s kids or grandkids non-Jewish if it was a woman convert who had daughters who had kids, etc., so the power of the Rabbinate is something to take note of. Since the wife is Jewish, the kids will be, so your only real issue for the husband is marriage/divorce and death. You can’t marry him inside Israel, and if you ever want to divorce (not that I’m expecting you will), you will have to leave the country to do that too. There might be some issue with funeral plots too, but I don’t know how that works.

        Hope this helps!

      • What is the concept of spouse in the law of return???
        I know that law and jewish agency have some different rules. What i was told is that a jew and a non jew have to be legally married in order to make aliyah, and its possible only if they make aliyah togueter and they are already one year old married ( i was wondering about a case of someone that asked about her jewish boyfriend who made aliyah and if they get married she could make aliyah later as a spouse of a jew). Im my head being “spouse” doesnt mean that necesarely you have to be legally married and the law says that a spouse is entitled to make aliyah (but dont say if is with all the Olé benefits, and jewish agency dont have any online info about it)

        Well what i try to figure out in my case is as it follows.

        I started my judaism course in may of 2014, i finished my conversion in november 2016 ( longgg process, tests, all tipes of delays, etc) So at this moment im about to have 9 months after my conversion, some people say a year is needed… I have a relationship with a jewish ole jadash of my own country since 2013!!! We are away from almost a year!!! And he just get in the army so our time to talk now is little. Obviously we have planed to get married one day so besides he havent propose yet (i told him i want a traditional proposal hahaha) he is almost my fiance! Sooo Now im applying for my aliyah and im scared if they make me wait a year after my conversion, being apart has being so hard and miss him so much, i dont want to spend any more day away from him specially now that he is entering the army and we barely can talk by whatsapp… So i was wondering if there is something else i could do to be in Israel as soon as possible considering he is my couple for so long and weeding plans are in the agenda (after army of course)…

        I check my email every hour waiting for an answer of the jewish agency, my biggest fear is if the process gets longer… it has being exausting and painfull… im so close and so far at the same time… I dont know what to do if they say i need to wait more time and make things more difficult cause im a convert! … We are not married but we are a family already! Every day that the process gets longer is a day they are kepping us appart!!! For worse he is a lone soldier, so the only ones we have is each other…. Sablanut is not a word for me at this point…

  230. Hi. I am making aliyah with my husband and 5 children from Canada. However, I was born in Brazil My mother is Israeli and she never registered me at the local consulate. Now, I need to get an Israeli passport to go to Israel. The Israeli consulate in Brazil made all the paperwork that I need and they gave me permission to register myself here in Toronto. Many people say I will have problems here. My appointment is this coming Thursday. Will I be fine? Do consulates communicate between themselves? My interview with the Jewish Agency is right after the appointment. Thanks!!

    • Israel bureaucracy is never fun. A the very least, if there are issues, it will just get you prepared for living in Israel. 🙂

  231. Hey!
    I’m a gay, African American, reform Jew, and im seriously considering immigrating to Israel. I converted because I felt that the universe has been preparing me for something bigger than me and this is it. I’m a little scared though. I want to finish school there and possibly do good things there. Any advice?

    • Yes, move to Tel Aviv. The city is liberal and more accepting. Not sure what you mean by “do good things” though.

      • More like join the IDF and afterwards, possibly join the UN.

  232. Hi
    Can I make Aliyah when I visit Israel?
    Thank you for your answer.

    • You need to organize it with the Jewish Agency before you arrive.

  233. I want to stay in mercaz klita with my little dog. You know where can ı stay?

    • I don’t know if a mercaz klita will allow dogs unfortunately.

  234. I am interested in making Aliyah and have been doing a lot of research regarding the whole process. I was just wondering if there was a certain amount of time (months, years, etc) that has to be met before deciding to leave (if a problem presented itself with life in Israel). I’m just curious if for some reason I ever decided it’s better for me to return to the US, will I have to repay the Israeli government for the financial help they provided??

    All advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you

  235. Hi, I would ask whether if I am eligible for the law of return. My mother’s grandmother (mother of my mother’s father) was Jewish. Thanks.

    • Potentially yes. The law of return is if you have one Jewish grandparent. Since you great grandmother was Jewish, this also means your grandmother was Jewish and then your mother, since the in many streams of Judaism, religion is passed down via the mother. By this, you are yourself considered Jewish.

  236. My maternal grandmother was Jewish. I have her birth record from Stryj Poland. My mother was left in a babies home in 1943 and brought up as a Christian. I too am a Christian but would like to know if I can make Aliyah. Would I be allowed? I live in Scotland.

    • Usually proof of one Jewish grandparent is enough to meet the law of return standards to make aliyah.

    • The comment below is correct. If you or your other went through an actual conversion, then the only way to be eligible is to convert yourself. I did not mention this because it sounded as if there was no actual conversion.

  237. Be careful! I know of one instance where a young Jewish boy was hidden with Poles during the Holocaust and brought up as their own. He became a priest, but when he found out he was really Jewish, he tried to make aliyah and was refused because of his conversion to Catholicism. I believe conversion from Judaism makes you ineligible for aliyah. Jews for Jesus, for example, who are Jewish by birth, are not allowed to make aliyah because of the ‘for Jesus’ part. There have also been cases of Jews who converted to Islam when they were living in Muslim-dominated countries, and they too were refused aliyah. DO NOT TELL the Jewish agency that your mother converted, or that you converted, call your upbringing and your mother’s ‘nonreligious’ or ‘secular’ if it comes up, but If you admit the conversion you are ineligible. A non practicing Jew is ok, but a converted Jew is no longer considered a Jew (despite the Jewish genetics), the same way an ex-Catholic who properly converts to Judaism is no longer a Catholic but has become a Jew. I make no judgment on a Christian Jew returning home, but other people certainly will, and Nefesh b’Nefesh or the Jewish Agency will tell you that you are ineligible if you reveal this information, and they will make you go through a full conversion and one year waiting period after conversion, etc, before they will even consider you.Be careful! I know of one instance where a young Jewish boy was hidden with Poles during the Holocaust and brought up as their own. He became a priest, but when he found out he was really Jewish, he tried to make aliyah and was refused because of his conversion to Catholicism. I believe conversion from Judaism makes you ineligible for aliyah. Jews for Jesus, for example, who are Jewish by birth, are not allowed to make aliyah because of the ‘for Jesus’ part. There have also been cases of Jews who converted to Islam when they were living in Muslim-dominated countries, and they too were refused aliyah. DO NOT TELL the Jewish agency that your mother converted, or that you converted, call your upbringing and your mother’s ‘nonreligious’ or ‘secular’ if it comes up, but If you admit the conversion you are ineligible. A non practicing Jew is ok, but a converted Jew is no longer considered a Jew (despite the Jewish genetics), the same way an ex-Catholic who properly converts to Judaism is no longer a Catholic but has become a Jew. I make no judgment on a Christian Jew returning home, but other people certainly will, and Nefesh b’Nefesh or the Jewish Agency will tell you that you are ineligible if you reveal this information, and they will make you go through a full conversion and one year waiting period after conversion, etc, before they will even consider you.

  238. Oops, sorry, I lost the signal when I was sending, and when I resent, it copy/pasted the text twice. I don’t see an edit comment option to fix it. 😦

  239. Right, I interpreted “brought up as a Christian” to be damaging enough, with or without any official conversion, and something the person definitely doesn’t want to mention. If her mother was taken from a home and brought up Christian, she would probably have gone through baptism, communion, etc., that I think would disqualify her, even though as a baby she didn’t have a choice, she would be in the same boat as the Jewish boy who got brought up Catholic and then became a priest. He wasn’t officially converted, he was just brought up Christian, but that disqualified him, as a practitioner of a religion other than Judaism. Even if the mother didn’t know she was being converted, she probably engaged in all the rites of passage as a Christian, so that would disqualify her too. Same for the daughter who calls herself a Christian; being a practicing Christian is a deal-breaker.

  240. Thanks for your comments. Yes, I became a Christian myself at 16. When a Jewish genealogist discovered my grandmothers birth records in the Jewish registry in Poland it was he who asked me if I realised this meant I was Jewish. Since the many Jewish people have told me this and I have been really drawn to find out more of my heritage- I’ve been to the synagogue a number of times and visited Israel just last month. I’ve wanted to be honest from the start about my faith so I wouldn’t conceal it if I wanted to make Aliyah. I am not seriously considering it but I did wonder if I am eligible as I’ve grown to love and support Israel and the Jewish people. I think it’s a shame I wouldn’t be considered as I am for Israel and my intention wouldn’t be to try and convert others but I do understand all the same. As for holocaust survivors who were brought up Christian and cannot make Aliyah- that’s a shame. Under the nazi laws they and I would still be considered Jewish. Thanks for all your help though 🙂 I will still visit! Jennie

  241. Hi,
    I come from a jewish family, where my father is jew, my mother is half jew (on her father’s side). My family hasn’t been religious and my father doesn’t have a proof that he’s jewish, only documents that show that my grandparents were. I am married to an Israeli who lives in Israel and I want to go to live with him in Israel, in other words I want to make aliyah. We had a small ceremony in a town hall in Denmark, so nothing religious. I even plan to make the convert, but the one I could do in my country is not approved by the Rabbanot. My husband has a business, but not going so well now and at the authorities they said that I can’t move to Israel to join him, until he has a stable income.
    My question is can I make aliyah based on my family and on my marriage?
    Thank you foe your help!!!!

    • You only need one Jewish grandparent, from either side, to make aliyah based on the law of return.

  242. I am a single 78 year old man in excellent health. I have all the documentation for the right of return fully Jewish. My wife recently died. I am presently living in Spain where I own property (NO debts) I am well educated and highly ‘civilised.’
    I have no idea where to start. Been to Israel many times just for the usual holidays but I want to go on a permanent basis to live out my days there.
    Looking to maybe share a decent property expenses 50/50.
    Any bright ideas. Photo on request.

    • well educated and highly ‘civilized’ . . . ever thought that maybe Israel isn’t the right place for you? JK. Reach out to Nefesh B’Nefesh.

  243. Dear Aliyah Survival Bloggist,

    I was recently denied Aliyah through the Nefesh B’Nefesh program due to my “medical background” although I am currently in good health.

    1. Can I still become a citizen?
    2. I read that if you live in Israel for 3/5 years, and work, and are part of the community, you can apply for citizenship. (Wikihow)
    3. I read that to obtain an Israeli work visa you must have never been “denied entry” to Israel. When my Nefesh B’Nefesh application was denied by the Ministry of the Interior, was I “denied entry” to Israel? Or was I just denied a program that would assist me with a free plane ticket, etc.?

    Thank you so much for your help!!! I still really want to make Aliyah, it’s been a dream since I was a little girl (now 30 years old). Toda raba.

    • I’ve never run into this before. I wish I had a better answer. I don’t have all of the information and don’t no particulars. It does not sound like you were denied entry, as in, you could still go to visit. I’m not sure if there is a way to appeal the decision. Maybe you connect up with a lawyer too?

  244. Thank you so much for your response! I agree, I don’t think that I was denied entry into Israel, I was just denied acceptance to a program, Nefesh B’Nefesh. I am still going to try to make Aliyah and become an Israeli citizen by applying for either an immigration visa, or a work permit. Do you (or does anyone) know someone who has become an Israeli citizen without Nefesh B’Nefesh (and not through birth, marriage, or Israeli parents)? Thank you!!!

  245. I have been israel over 2 years I have given in all my documents now 3 times and twice they lost them .I have been to Jerusalem I have been given a worl permit .Any advice .
    I am jewish I need this as I need medical aid in this country
    Herbert Hack

    • Have you tried doing the application process through Nefesh B’Nefesh.

      • Yes i am south african they cannot help

  246. Hello- I am trying to make Aliyah and have started the process already. I am going in for my appointment with the Jewish agency in a week but I wanted to know what I can expect from the appointment (i.e. Questions they will ask, information they will require). I’m pretty nervous because I was not raised in a religious or traditionally Jewish home and my mother is Christian (dad’s side of the family is Jewish but neither side practices religion or has been to a synagogue or church in 30 years). The reason I’m nervous is because I don’t know very much about what being Jewish means but I went to Israel a year ago, fell in love with the country and can’t stop thinking about moving there. I want to embrace the culture and learn Hebrew and what it means to be Jewish and I genuinely want to become part of Israeli culture. I’m just nervous I will be rejected on the basis that I can’t prove my Jewish ancestry (my entire father’s side is Jewish- they’re all buried in Jewish cemeteries but I don’t have many living relatives and I don’t know any rabbis that could vouch for me or write me a letter). Any information on what to do or expect is appreciated!

    • I think what you said is great. Under the law of return you have the right to move to Israel. The law of return says that if you have one Jewish grandparent who is Jewish then you can move to Israel. At the interview, you should ask what type of proof you need, such as ketuba of your grandparents, a letter from the rabbi of he synagogue who married your grandparents, photos of the tombstones, etc.

      • Thank you for your reply. The problem I am having is that I don’t have any documentation for my grandparents besides a copy of my grandfather’s naturalization documents when he became a US citizen that states his race is “Hebrew” and a letter from the Jewish cemetery where both of my grandparents are buried (stating they are buried there). I am worried that this will not be enough to prove my Jewish heritage. Can anyone give me any advice on what to expect in the initial interview?

  247. If you were born to a Jewish father but not a Jewish mother you might need to convert to Judaism to immigrate under the Law of Return. I’m not sure. Good luck, Rachel

    • Rachel, this is not true. The Law of Return is based on the Nazi Nuremberg laws when it comes to defining a Jew for the sake of becoming a citizen of Israel. That is one Jewish grandparent on any side.

  248. You just need one Jewish parent or grandparent, on either your mother’s or father’s side. Your father will qualify you, you won’t need to convert. The Law of Return isn’t matrilineal. Also, the Jewish burials should be sufficient. You should call the cemeteries, they will have a record if a rabbi officiated at the burials and they will be able to prove that your relatives were buried in a Jewish cemetery because they were Jewish. Good luck!

  249. Fascinating. Thanks for the clarification.

  250. Don’t panic. It certainly sounds like you have enough proof that your grandfather/father was Jewish. Don’t worry about the fact it’s on your father’s side; as we’ve said, the Law of Return doesn’t care about that. Why don’t you just call Nefesh b’ Nefesh, tell them what you have and ask if it’s enough? They can be both helpful and kind of annoying sometimes to deal with, and may try to make you jump through hoops, but the law is the law, and you sound like you do qualify under the Law of Return. For what it’s worth my Rabbi had to submit a virtually identical letter for me 3 times before the wording was precise enough to make them happy, irritating the Rabbi to no end. It’s not like you get one shot and that’s it, you can keep adding documentation until they get what they feel they need for proof. Again, call the cemetery and get the name of the Rabbi who performed the burials. If he’s alive he can write a letter saying he performed a Jewish burial because he was sure the people were Jewish, that should help. If he’s dead, the synagogue should have records saying he performed a Jewish burial for your people. You don’t need to be religious, so be honest if you’re not up on the holidays, although you might want to do a little research beforehand. I do remember being asked my favorite Jewish holiday. They may also ask you about how you plan to support yourself, I recall a form asking me if I had any debts, that kind of thing. You might want to gloss over calling your mother Christian (calling her non religious and saying her parents were Christian but she didn’t practice Christianity is probably safer for you, because if you have ever professed a foreign religion like Christianity, you’re not considered Jewish for aliyah anymore. Once you mention a Christian mother, they may grill you a little bit to make sure you were never baptized, considered yourself Christian, etc. Admitting to anything like that will get you denied. If you say something like you’re a political Zionist who wants to stand up and be counted among the Jewish people, something like that, that should get the interviewer off your back. If you’ve only been to Israel once, they may pressure you to make an extended trip before being approved, but that is not a legal requirement, so tell them you don’t want to waste your money on paying for an extra trip, they can’t force you to do it. If they ask about conversion because you’re not halachically Jewish (not Jewish on mother’s side), you can remind them that that isn’t relevant under the Law of Return. Israeli citizens are also allowed to study for an Orthodox conversion in Israel, which non citizens can’t do. You don’t want to get sucked into agreeing to an American (or whatever country you’re in) conversion, as that would add at least 2 years to your time frame (one year (ish) to convert and one year to show you have lived in a Jewish community for a year after the conversion). So just to prepare you, if they ask you about this you could say something like (if you want) that maybe you’ll be inspired to convert in Israel after your aliyah, but that for now you just want to assert your rights under the Law of Return. There’s about a half million people (lots are Russians but there’s Americans, etc., as well) who emigrated to Israel under the Law of Return but who aren’t halachically Jewish, so don’t feel nervous or intimidated about your lack of religious upbringing or the fact that you’re Jewish on your father’s side, there’s hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the same boat. Good luck!

    • Hello Kathryn-

      Thank you so much for your input! My grandmother’s funeral service was presided over by a reform Rabbi so when I mentioned it to the woman at the Jewish agency she knew of the rabbi and said that he would not be a credible source. I have never considered myself a Christian by any means and my mother does not consider herself a Christian either. I was not raised in a Christian home and no one in my family has ever been baptized or had any services preformed by a Christian church/priest so I think I am safe in that respect. I am hoping that the information I have been able to gather (via internet) regarding my father’s family will be enough for the Jewish agency. I was also wondering if you think it would hurt for me to mention that I have an Israeli boyfriend (he is born and raised in Israel- we met when I traveled there last year). My plan is to sublet an apartment or request ulpan housing for a few months to give us time to find a place to live together. I’m just not sure if this information gives the wrong impression about my desire to assimilate into Israeli life. This is a decision that I would have made regardless of our relationship but it does have a lot to do with explaining my plans for a living arrangement. Any insights would be appreciated. Thank you again!

      • Kathryn, gave you great feedback and hit all the right points! There is only one thing I would add. I was unclear if they said that Reform Rabbi was not sufficient enough because he was Reform or because the relation was distant. If it turns out it is because he is Reform, please reach back out to me and I will put you in contact with an expert on the issue to help you.

  251. The comment on the Rabbi sounds ridiculous. You don’t need the stamp of approval of an Orthodox Rabbi for one thing, and for another, this is the sort of thing one usually hears in regards to rabbis performing conversions, not just stating whether someone is Jewish. Call the Rabbi, tell him what was said, and ask for the letter anyway. I don’t care how weird they think the Rabbi is, he can’t make your grandfather un-Jewish. Ask the Jewish agency to state their objection in writing, as it seems like something that will not hold up, so push them a little. Ask the cemetery to provide a letter stating they only perform Jewish burials in the Jewish section, etc, and separately ask them what their standard was for defining someone as Jewish when they sold the plot to your family. The cemetery will want to prove they buried a Jew not a non-Jew in their Jewish cemetery, so they at least will be on your side. If they have any written policy that favors your claim that your grandfather was Jewish or they would not have sold the plot to your family, you can include it. Don’t forget you also have the ‘Hebrew’ nationality paperwork, use that too. You are going to need an certified copy of that, not just something you printed off the internet, so hunt that record down. After you get that, you may need to have an ‘apostile’ certificate added onto it, I’m not sure if that kind of document needs it or not. You can submit the certified copy from US Immigration first, then wait and see if they demand the apostile seal. Also, any chance you can find a ketubah? Regarding your BF question, the boyfriend thing will immediately open you up to the converting questions, since if you have kids with him they won’t be halachically Jewish, so just be prepared. I don’t think it hurts you, just have an answer ready if you go that route that will tell them what they want to hear (maybe be ready with something like we are considering having me perform an Orthodox conversion in Israel after aliyah prior to marriage, etc.). But be sure to reiterate that you are making the decision for aliyah based on your legal Right of Return, not based just on a relationship. Also, you can’t legally marry him in Israel since you aren’t halachically Jewish, FYI, but if you married him in the US or Cyprus (a popular choice) your marriage would be legally recognized by Israel. Israeli weddings are still governed by Ottoman laws that only allow people to marry within their same religion, so as someone ‘without religion’ (as you would be classed), you won’t be able to marry anybody in Israel unless you convert to a religion after you gain citizenship. You are Jewish enough under the Law of Return to become a citizen but not halachically Jewish enough to marry under the Israeli Rabbinate. You could convert and become halachically Jewish and marry a Jew, or even convert to Christianity and marry a Christian after you have citizenship, but otherwise you are stuck not being able to legally wed inside Israel itself. Not pushing marriage, just giving you the info on the current state of the law. You and a half million other people are in the same boat, so again, don’t let them intimidate you, your situation is not unusual, and what you want is completely your legal right under the Law Of Return. You do have the legal right under the Law of Return to make aliyah, you just have to be prepared for some possible gamesmanship on their part. You would think they would want people to make aliyah, but it seems like they might have a soft policy of discouragement, kind of like the deal with would-be converts, as everyone I know has had some kind of petty paperwork battle with them, although everyone also did succeed in the end. This is kind of a preview of Israeli bureaucracy. Don’t be discouraged!

  252. Hello Kathryn-

    Thanks again for all of your input!

  253. Happy to help!

  254. I made Aliyah with my cat in January 2013. At that time, none of the mercaz klitas accepted pets & I’ve not heard of any changes to that rule. Perhaps a kibbutz would be a possibility…?
    I ended up moving to Ashdod, where I have family. Through them, I was able to rent a pet-friendly studio apartment that we moved into the day we arrived!
    Good luck!

  255. Greetings.
    I am a American citizen, 57 years old, retired Paramedic.
    My father’s great grandfather was a german-jew who was born in Germany circa 1860 and immigrated to the United states circa 1900.
    I recently learned about Israel’s right of Aliyah.
    I have been a Christian for nearly 35 years and my passion has been studying the bible and the history of Israel.
    I have a deep love for Israel, it’s people and it’s amazing history, and have a strong desire to live there and serve it’s people in some capacity, even as a volunteer.
    In my heart, I believe Israel is my true home on this earth.
    I have a modest retirement income of approximately $1,000.00/mo, which I do not know if that would be enough to live on in Israel?
    But, my first interest would be to immigrate to Israel under the right of Aliyah, and live there as an Israeli citizen for the rest of my life.
    I have read that a person can only qualify as being a jew for Aliyah if the mother is of jewish ancestory, otherwise it would be necessary to “convert” to Judaism.
    Please clarify this for me.
    If I was able to qualify through my father’s ancestory I would have to somehow be able to connect to his great grandfathers documentation in Germany, which I’m afraid could be difficult to find such records of the mid 1800’s!
    Can you help me learn how I might successfully apply for Aliyah given my situation?
    I appreciate your attention.

    • The law of return allows anyone who was one Jewish grandparent to move to Israel and become a citizen. However, since you have been living as a Christian, you can no longer qualify under this law to move to Israel. You would need to go through a conversion and then after the conversion live in the community in which you converted for at least a year before moving to Israel. $1000 a month would not be enough to live in Israel.

  256. Thank you for your reply.
    So then, since my father’s grandfather is jewish, I would qualify for Aliyah?
    Wouldn’t that then be sufficient enough without any additional qualifications such as converting to Judaism?
    In other words, if I can qualify with just having a jewish grandparent, what difference does it make after that what religion I follow?

    • As mentioned previously, since you have been living actively as a Christian, you would no longer be able to move to Israel under the right of return law.

  257. Ignoring the Christian angle, if your father’s great-grandfather was Jewish, and that’s the most recent connection to Judaism, you are too far back in history to qualify, as you need a Jewish parent/grandparent. While the parent/grandparent for the Law of Return can be on either the mother’s or father’s side, Judaism is passed matrilineally. So if your father’s great grandfather was Jewish but not his great grandmother, your father’s father would have been the last person with a Jewish parent/grandparent. The parent/grandparent you count back from has to have had a Jewish mother. Your great great grandfather is too far back, your father’s father is the last in line who could qualify as having a Jewish parent/grandparent. Your father’s father (your grandfather) and your father aren’t halachically Jewish so your they can’t pass Jewishness onto you. If your great great grandfather was Jewish, the last person with a Jewish father/grandfather would have been your grandfather, but since that grandfather isn’t halachically Jewish he can’t pass any Jewish status on to you. If the great great grandfather’s spouse was also Jewish, then it’s a different matter and your father would have been the last one with a Jewish parent/grandparent. Any way you slice it, if your last halachically Jewish relative was a great great grandparent, you’re too far back. Even if you had been raised with no religion (and thus not disqualified by practicing Christianity), you’re two generations too far. You need a parent or grandparent born of a Jewish mother to qualify, sorry. Conversion is of course an option if that is what truly speaks to you.

  258. I just further researched into this matter and found there seems to be certain exceptions to that rule.
    The following article is interesting (I copied a noteworthy paragraph from it which summarizes:

    If a person was not a Jew previously (religious definition) but is a descendant of Jews, then they can make aliyah (citizenship) without discrimination for their current faith in Yeshua.

  259. I greatly appreciate your attention and that you have taken the time to try answering my questions.
    Just to clarify, my father’s grandfather was a true geneological Israelite, not just in religious observance. Would that make a difference?
    Shouldn’t that qualify me as having Israeli ancestory?
    Evidently as far as Aliyah is concerned, “jewish” qualification includes either genetic heretage or religious observance.
    At this time I understand that I cannot qualify under the religious observance (also neither of my parents observed Judaism), and I have no idea whether or not his great grandfather was an observant Jew, but I believe he was a jew, or an Israelite by genetics.

  260. Hello,

    I recently ran across your very interesting blog and I have a question I am hoping you can help me with.
    I will be retiring in a number of years and my goal has always been to retire to Israel.
    As both my parents and I are Jewish I thought it would be a slam dunk.
    I have spoken to Nefesh Bnefesh and one of the requirements is certification by your Rabbi that you are Jewish and you mother was Jewish.
    I explained to them that I pray at a very large shul and not being active in shul functions the Rabbi does not really know me and are there alternative ways of proving my being Jewish and the answer has always been the official stance of needing a Rabbi to “certify” me.

    Have you come across any similar situations and be able to provide help?

    Thank you
    Thomas(shaul) Major

    • There are some other ways to prove your Jewish identity. And BTW, for aliyah purposes, you only need to prove that one Jewish grandparent is Jewish. For instance, I would recommend asking your Rabbi in any case. But if you have a copy of your parents’ ketuba, or even photos of a tombstone of your parents in a Jewish cemetery, these can help.

  261. Thank you for the information.
    I received a reply to a query I had on this from the Jewish Agency

    Thank you for contacting Global Center of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

    The only document that Ministry of Interior of Israel accepts as proof of Judaism is a letter from the Rabbi. Unfortunately there are no other alternative ways.

    This strikes me as being very short sighted as not every jew is affiliated with a shul. There should be a number of ways of proving to the Ministry of Interior that a person is Jewish, but I am not holding my breath on that changing 🙂

    Thank you

    • That is certainly the central way. Have you reached out to organizations like Nefesh B’Nefesh or Itim?

  262. You don’t need a personal relationship with the Rabbi. If your parents have passed away, contact the Rabbi and synagogue and cemetery that buried them. If that Rabbi has passed away, just ask the current Rabbi to ascertain that his predecessor buried them as Jews. Same for whomever married them. If you parents are still alive ask them for any Rabbi who has had contact with them. If you had a bar mitzvah, contact that synagogue. Some Rabbi or his successor somewhere has most likely had contact with your family, and that person can provide the proof you need. You do not need to be affiliated with a shul, but even the Rabbi at the very large shul who doesn’t know you that well should be able to help you. You don’t need a personal connection, you just need paperwork. Good luck!

  263. I started with Nefesh and there standard reply to my emails was that a letter from a Rabbi is required and nothing else will work. I reached out to Itim and am waiting to hear back from them.

    I will be talking to the Rabbi of my shul next week but it strikes me as being very limiting when there is only one way to do things.

    for example, my mother is buried at har hamenuchot. The only way she could have been buried there is if she Jewish. That alone should be enough proof to the Israeli government that I am Jewish, but no must be a letter from a Rabbi.

    I have heard from many friends that Israeli bureaucracy takes the cake, but to see it in action is a different matter

    Thank you.

  264. Hello Kathryn,

    Thank you for the info.

    I hope my Rabbi is understanding enough that he would write a letter attesting to my being Jewish based upon the fact that my mother is buried in a Jewish cemetery ,

    • The Rabbi who buried her should be willing to state he buried your mother as a Jew. There’s no reason they would have buried a non Jew as a Jew, so they should want to help you. Showing you have a Jewish mother is what you need, so maybe talk to the Rabbi who buried her or his successor at the synagogue, then use the Rabbi at your shul to back you up as well.

  265. Shalom Kathryn, I made my aliyah application for my daughter and I. We have our interview BH next week. My daughter is 5 and I am 30, we both converted to Orthodox Judaism almost 5 years ago. My plan is that BH my application is approved in the summer so I have at least a month or so to look for a school for her. I have few questions

    1) I have no knowledge of Hebrew should I stay in Ulpan with her during the first months?

    2) We have no family in Israel I just have friends and one family will have us for the first two months, what do you suggest as a permeant inexpensive option for us?

    3) II would like to wok while I am there what do you think I can start doing in the meantime ?

    4) Any advise that you think will help us.



    • Hello Chava, In answer to our questions. Yes, I suggest taking full advantage of Ulpan. Rent is very expensive in Israel. I suggest seeing if you can stay at a Merkaz Klita for the first few months until you get a job. There is a website called Israemploy. It is very cheap to subscribe to and it shows openings for jobs targeting English speakers. My advice is regarding the religious community and the Rabbinute – don’t be surprised that they are not particularly accepting of converts. It is very unfortunate, but that is the truth.

  266. Hello. I’m from France and I’m a Christian. I have a serious relationship with a jewish girl (born and raised in Israel). She is supposed to go to the army next year. My question is: If we get married (here or there, doesn’t matter) is she going to be able to get away with it without having problems? Both us and her family wants her to skip army and study medicine abroad. But at the same time we obviously want to go and visit her family sometimes without having to worry that she will be put in jail. So yeah what I mainly wanted to know is if she needs to marry a jew in order to skip army or it works with a goy too.
    PS: Im talking about a civil marriage with all the documentation brought to the Israeli embassy after that. Thanks.

    • You wouldn’t be allowed to get married in Israel, because Israel has no intermarriage between religions. So it would have to be in France. Marriage is often a way to get out of the army – that is what Bar Rafelli did. But in any case, it is probably best to speak with a lawyer on this subject.

  267. Shalom Aliyasurviver also known as Jessica:)
    Got all my papers ready for Aliya,came across your blog today.
    Maybe you can help sharing your experience,what’s the approximate cost of living around Yerushalaim area,excluding house expenses such as rent and arnona.Have you met any Olim Chadashim who tried or opened their own small/middle size business ventures within first year of making Aliya and still operating?
    Appreciate your time

    • I never paid rent in Jerusalem and I only lived in the city for a very short time and on a shoe-string budget. I would say that the first few years in Israel, expect to live without a lot of comforts that you are used to. Nefesh B’Nefesh might be able to connect you up with some people who have experience opening up their own business as new olim.

  268. Hello 🙂 Lovely site which has been very helpful.

    My grandmother was jewish but left the faith and married a gentile, I found out that I am jewish through my gran, is that right? I have this deep connection with the jewish faith and in 2016 took a trip to Israel/Jordan and fell in love…
    Im interested in finding out what the maximum age is for Aliyah?
    Is there a pension system in place for immigrants?
    What paperwork do I need in order to apply for Aliyah in order to prove me jewishness?
    Many thanks Tash

  269. What do you mean that she left the religion? Do you mean that she converted to a different religion? Was this before or after the birth of your parent by her? There is no maximum age for aliyah, but I’m not sure about a pension program. You would need to bring your savings. The paperwork you would need is mainly a letter from a Rabbi attesting to you being Jewish.

  270. How do I plan to convert to Reform Judaism from abroad? What are the criteria that the conversion is sufficient for the Law of Return? Which reform conversion organization is famous for accepted aliya?

    • You just need to find a Reform Rabbi in your community who you find you have a connection with. Make sure to ask about the issues with the Rabbinute, i.e. two meanings for who is a Jew, and about needing to live in the community in which your conversion was done for an additional year or two.

      • What if my community doesn’t have a Reform Rabbi?

      • Then you can undergo a different type of conversion to Judaism, such as conservative or orthodox. Orthodox will be more difficult and take more time.

  271. I was born and raised in Israel and only my paternal grandfather is Jewish. Could I return as a citizen. Also I speak, read and write Hebrew.

    • Yes, you fall under the right of return law. Now, it is just an issue of proving your Jewishness.

      • I may have a difficult time finding my grandfathers proof of being Jewish as he has been dead for many years. I never knew him. As a person who was born and raised in Israel, do I have the right to permanent residence?

      • There may be organizations that can help you, perhaps you can try ITIM. I don’t know the rules regarding permanent residency.

  272. Shalom, i had an interview with Los Ageles office over the phone. I have a question for you — how long does it take to be approved my application? I wanna make Aliyah by Nov.2017. Im originally from Bangladesh. Im a Jewish now, and my Hebrew name is Nachshon Ben Avrahum and regular name is Sanjoy Dash.

  273. Shalom, i had an interview with Los Ageles office over the phone on Oct 04, 2017 so I have a question for you — how long does it take to be approved my application? I wanna make Aliyah by Nov.2017. Im originally from Bangladesh. Im a Jewish now, and my Hebrew name is Nachshon Ben Avrahum and regular name is Sanjoy Dash

  274. hi! i am going to be taking the mivchan meimad in a month. Do you know if i can be given extra time to take the test?

  275. Hi Jessica,
    If I’m an attractive modern and religious man looking to make aaliyah for the purpose of finding the same in a woman to marry, where should I situate myself and which shadchans should I contact so that I can likely be married within a year?

    • Considering I’m a secular atheist, I don’t think I’m the correct person to answer this question.

  276. I have a friend that has been baptised and wants to make Aliya this friend was only baptised as she was looking for a spiritual ritual in the country of birth where the Jewish community is not so active can this be a problem in her Aliya process and how far do they investigate this?

    • My understanding is that a baptism would cause problems for aliyah as it is part of a conversion process. If your friend was looking for a Jewish connection to the Jewish community, a mikvah would have probably made more sense.

  277. Hi Aliyah Survivor,

    I’m wondering if you think an oleh could live off the initial governmental assistance provided for 6 months while doing an Ulpan for free and not working for those 6 months? Or would they need to be working while they do ulpan? I’m thinking about the Tel Aviv area, so maybe it wouldn’t be possible.

    • It might be possible, but not very reasonable. It would be best to have some savings to rely upon. Have you tried to sign up for a Nefesh B’Nefesh scholarship?

  278. Hi,
    If I make Aliyah, how long do I have to physically spend in Israel over the first five years? ( I am too old for army service).

    • I’m not sure about this one. Sorry!

  279. I’m 40 years old, a secular Jewish man, I live in a quiet Jewish neighborhood in Pittsburgh PA (Squirrel Hill), and am making Aliyah to Israel later this year. I’ve visited Israel 10 times throughout my life (in the years 1983, 1988, 1991, 1994, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, and 2018), I have dozens of relatives and friends living all over Israel, and my parents invested/own 2 pieces of property in Jerusalem and in the Shomron. Last year my brother and I took an EL AL flight to Israel accompanying my dad’s body (he was a medical doctor who died from Esophageal Cancer – only discovered in its final stage and didn’t have much time left to live) and we buried him in Beit Shemesh. I stayed 3 days in Ma’ale Adumim outside Jerusalem at a friend’s apartment and then flew back home. Fast forward many months later, my mom (who doesn’t work and is living off social security and whatever life insurance she has left) is unable to make payments to the mortgage on our Pittsburgh house and now we are planning on selling the home before my mom and I move to Israel. With the money sold, we plan to re-invest in a condo here in the states to help with a supplementary income while I find a part-time job in Israel (while receiving rent money from one of the two homes we have in Israel). This all sounds very good to a stranger reading this and I would consider myself very fortunate to be in such a situation, but I’m psychologically at a midlife crisis at the moment. Up until now I was never able to find a meaningful career here in the USA, dabbling in web development (as a web designer) and not enjoying this work, while pursuing my creative projects in photography, filmmaking, music, and writing. My plan is to start “a new life” in Israel, find the right female partner (the dating scene here in Pittsburgh is horrendous for a single Jewish man), and hopefully not get too stressed out dealing with the Israeli bureaucracy. I’ve read that unless you have money, don’t even think of moving to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. My initial plan was to move to Tel Aviv because I love the beaches, bicycling, liberal-minded attitudes, and plethora of great restaurants, music, and arts culture. However, I already know just how filthy the city is, with dog shit caked on the sidewalks for months on end (when its not raining), the horrendous air quality from all the endless traffic of cars and trucks on the roads, and the nonstop noise pollution and neverending car horns honking and car alarms going off in the middle of the night (not to mention the expensive rent for not much living space). This doesn’t sound ideal, right? Of course not, but this is Tel Aviv, one of the most energetic cities on the planet! In any case, I wonder to myself if I should try living in one of the properties I have already to start off, while I travel around the country exploring different cities (I’ve been curious about living in Tiberias, Tzfat, Nahariya, Karmiel, Nah’sholim, Netanya, Eilat, Rishon Letzion, Ashkelon, Beit She’an, and various kibbutzim near the Dead Sea or in the Negev). My worry about moving to a smaller moshav or kibbutz would be the lack of singles (as many kibbutzim are aging or full of families or retirement communities – such as Deganya Bet, where I airbnb’ed for a weekend with a friend). Of course, many small moshavs are very strict and selective about who is allowed to become a member and live there too. Yet, at the same time I need access to cleaner air, nature, wildlife, quiet, and love the fact that you could leave your doors unlocked in a kibbutz and not worry about getting your bike stolen, while studying Hebrew in a smaller Ulpan or one on one. My heart says, go with a smaller town that is low key and less stressful (maybe in the north), but my brain says go with a big city (in the center) for all the opportunities. I could always live somewhere smaller centrally, and commute (by bus, train, or car) to Jerusalem/Tel Aviv if I ever needed to, right? Does anyone have any advice for my (first world) dilemma? Please let me know. Thank you.

  280. I had my Aliyah interview About two months ago and still have not received
    Any notification nor has it been processed
    Can you give me any insight as to what might be holding this up. The interview went very well and we were planning on leaving in about three weeks to go to Israel

  281. I had to use an aliyah assistance program (Operation Exodus USA) to help get my application approved

  282. Maybe someone will be able to help and answer . I am a gay male , Israeli citizen who left for the USA in 1976. I am also a citizen of USA and Lithuania. I am jewish all the way. I am in a relationship with a male already for 25 years who made reform giyur after studying for 1 year. The giyur was finished a year ago. We live in Lithuania now and applying for aliyah. We have all the documents prepared for NATIV. Birth certificate, marriage , police record, ktuba, giyur , letter from beit din, from jewish community etc. What schould we expect? Will Misrad Hapnim drink our blood and for how long? We purchased an apartment in Ashqelon, we sold our biusness in Lithuania. Trying to sell the house. But if aliyah is denied, we will be at a loss.

    • Worst case scenario, if your partner’s conversion isn’t recognized, you can marry him in the US. While you can’t enter into a gay marriage in Israel, gay marriage from countries where it is legal is recognized, and he will be able to come in as the spouse of an Israeli. I think gay domestic partnerships are also recognized, but a spouse might be safer. What country is he from? You would need to get him into the States so you could be married there unless Lithuania also recognizes gay marriage, but he could possibly get married to you on a short-term tourist visa, and you could return to Lithuania to process your application for Aliyah, in case a long-term stay in the States wouldn’t be feasible. Check the jurisdiction (the US state) in which you would want to marry to see the regulations for a marriage between you as a US citizen not domiciled in that state, and whatever nationality your partner is before you go to the States. You could also marry in any other country that will let you as foreigners enter into gay marriage if Lithuania/the States are a problem for getting married. Good luck!

  283. Hello i am 19 years old and i was born in Israel and i am a ktina chozeret. I am nervous for my interviews and i have understood that there are two what should i expect from them?

  284. Need help!
    I am an Israeli / USA / Lithuanian citizen . I am in a long ( 26 years) gay relationship. My partner husband is Lithuanian/ USA citizen. We got married 3 years ago by a reform rabbi and my husband converted to judaism after studying for 1 year. We applied over one year for his aliya to the NATIV , he had 2 interviews with the Nativ, we submitted thousands of documents.
    In preparation for the move to Israel we purchased a flat in Israel 2 years ago under construction, sold our house abroad and left the jobs. We arrived to Israel since our flat was ready to move in . After waiting over one year for the reply from Misrad hapnim we again applied here in Israel. How long more to wait ? What can be done ? My husband is on a tourist 3 month viza which will soon expire.

    • You might want to consider getting an immigration lawyer. Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) might be able to help or recommend a lawyer.

      • Yes , thanks for reply. We are working with IRAC. But no results yet. How long can it take? Is where any time frame with Misrad Hapnim?
        Its already 14 months. This situation looks like without an end….

      • I’ve never dealt with this before so I can’t provide any advice. You might be dealing with a religious bureaucrat that may be holding things up. Or it may be a completely separate issue. IRAC has the most experience with this, so I would trust your contact there. They are fighters and have helped make Israeli law more progressive by winning supreme court cases.

      • We are working on the problem with the best from IRAC – NICOLE MAOR. She indeed has won many cases against the Misrad Hapnim. Lets hope she will solve our problem also.

  285. Can I pay the Arnona on my late grandfather’s apartment in Haifa
    I am an Israeli citizen.

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