Thursday, September 11
Kupat Cholim: We tried to get up on time and got everyone to gan (relatively) early. We then went to the post office for Stage I of getting health coverage. Basically, you decide which kupah you want to join, and you join it. How do you decide? Ask people! (See: Earlier posts). We decided on Maccabi, which has the big advantage of being able to see the Maccabi building from our mirpeset. We took that as a good sign. We went to the post office, paid a "small fee" - they can't tell you what the fee is in advance, because it takes all the fun out of it. In keeping with that tradition, I will not tell you what the fee was. But it was "small". Then we went to the Maccabi building to sign up. We actually registered our bank account information with them twice, because we noticed that we had 2 account numbers, and learning our lesson from yesterday, didn't want to take a chance. We said we would come back later when we knew which account number was correct. When we went to the bank to pick up our checks, we figured out the problem. The bank had given us 2 account numbers, for our purposes here we will call them "old account number" and "new account number." The bank people claimed on their mother's falafel that both account numbers would work fine, no problem, use either one. But when we got our "pinkas checkim" (my favorite Hebrew word - pinkas - it's awesome!) we saw that they had the "old account number" on it. Well, our motto is, "If it's good enough for the checks, it's good enough for kupat cholim and misrad haklitah." So we went back to Maccabi, told them which account number to use, then called Misrad HaKlitah and gave them the right number. Now our account is in working order. Plus we have a pinkas! Who doesn't love a pinkas?
Supersol: Our next mission was food. In the past, when we moved, we took coolers of refrigerated stuff, and boxes of food, so when we unpacked, we had something to eat. This time, we were starting from nothing. It took us a week of shopping to restock. We discovered the Supersol "Deal" Deal in Yishpru, which we became big fans of because it's big, relatively clean, and has this awesome pecan cereal. However, and this is odd, when we went the next week, we could not find Shabbos sponges. Discuss.
Gas man: The gas man came, did some stuff, and voila, we had a working kitchen!
Teudat Zehut: At 5:00, we went to a shopping center in Modi'in where we were able to pick up our teudat zehut. It was very exciting - we are now official citizens! The kids don't get their own until they are 16, but Donny and I have a document with their names and mispar zehut. It's really strange how everything here requires a teudat zehut - you need to carry it around with you all the time. I almost feel like people should call me "Comrade" or "Brother" when they ask me for it.
Dinner: For the first time, we made dinner in our own apartment! No more mooching off the Balsams! We have food and a working kitchen. We made Israeli hot dogs, rolls, salad, and it was quite good.
Lift update: There is a boat going to Italy this week to pick up all the containers and bring them to Haifa. We are hopeful.
Friday, September 12
License: Now that we had a bank account (2, actually), health insurance, kids in gan, a car (for now), and a teudat zehut, we started thinking about driver's licenses. It is a true pain to get a license in Israel. There are approximately 5 hijillion steps, costing 10 hijillion shekels by the end. First, you go to an eye store and get a tofes yarok (literally, "green tofes"). They give you an eye test, photograph you onto the form, and you pay 50 NIS. Then you need to get a doctor to fill out the rest of the form. Then you take the document with your driver's license and go to the Misrad HaRishui (licensing department.) Then you pay them some amount of money. Then you need to get a driving lesson. Then you need to take the test. All of these things cost money. We were starting at the beginning, trying to get the tofes yarok. We were unsuccessful. First, the eye store's computer was down. When I went back later, my mispar zehut was not yet in the system. A failure.
Errands: We also had Yaakov with us, because his gan is only open every other Friday. We attempted to do some errands. Ha! Since Friday is Sunday in Israel, the shops were CRAZY. It's even more intense than a Sunday because everything closes earlier. We tried to get mirrors, so Donny wouldn't have to shave using my little pocket mirror, a crock pot, a bubby cart (because it's a huge schlep to bring the groceries into the aparment). Failed, failed, failed. We finally gave up.
Erev Shabbos/Lift update: We got to the Balsams a few hours before Shabbos, because I needed to do laundry. Although I swore I was going to burn the clothes I wore on the flight, I relented and settled for washing them vigorously, although I did give them a dirty look when I put them in the machine. We also had a chance to check our email. There was an email sent on Thursday from the lift people: "Your container arrived on Tuesday. You only have 4 free days at the port in Ashdod. Contact us right away so that you do not incurr port fees." Our lift had indeed come on Tuesday, but no one knew. Ha ha! Despite the fact that we called every single day, they were unable to coordinate what they told us with what was actually happening. So we were of course ecstatic to have our things, but annoyed that we were going to be charged port fees because they did not contact us in time. We also had the problem of fitting our American washer and dryer, which were exactly 27 inches, into the laundry room, also measuring 27 inches. Hmmm.
We had a very nice Shabbos at the Balsams - the kids played together pretty well the entire Shabbos, despite a few meltdowns from Ariella. I originally thought we should spend our first Shabbos in our apartment, getting to meet people, etc, but it was way nicer going to Chashmonaim, drinking coffee with Lisa, and sleeping in real beds. Saturday night I drove the kids (and laundry) back home - all by myself! First time! - while Donny stayed to do some more emailing.