Aliyah –Let's make a plan!
Making Aliyah is a daunting challenge – no doubt. There is so much to consider, and a variety of different requirements that we may each have in making such a journey. For example, some of us may have kids, some of us not, some may have transportable job, others not, parents/siblings to consider, others not, specific community requirements etc.
What we all have in common however is the need to have a plan, and that's what I thought I would try to address with this post.
Why? It can be difficult to break down a big change like Aliyah. It can be perceived as such a large task that it is daunting to even consider how to tackle it, so let's talk about some high level ways we can start to organize our lives and thoughts in order to make Aliyah.
This post is intended to be high level to give the broad categories and a rough order that may help you to create your own plan. B"H in the coming days/weeks - I'd like to break down each of the categories in more detail which will hopefully give some practical detailed information.
Start with the end objective first: Living in Israel
As with any good plan - we want to start thinking about the objective or end point first, which is living in Israel, and then work backwards from there. That will allow us to come up with a strong plan that will be helpful in taking a seemingly huge task, and break into small pieces, which are much more consumable.
That is in essence how we tackle most big plans - start with where you want to be and work backwards. With that in mind - the list below is in roughly chronological order and made with the methodology cited - starting with the first task you should undertake:
1) A written log!
The first thing is to start our own written log of your experiences preparing for Aliyah. My efforts to keep a written log were sporadic at best in the beginning. As we moved along however it started to take form, and become more important to me. This log can record our thoughts, feelings and plan with respect to making Aliyah. Reviewing it periodically can really help to orient you in the right direction should you hit a road bump (and there will be plenty).
2) Go on an initial pilot trip
Making a pilot trip is very important to your overall success. We'll get into more detail later about the why's and how's - but for now, suffice to say - its important to do this very early in your Aliyah journey.
3) Create a financial plan
How much money do you estimate you will have to make Aliyah with? This is a first pass, a general idea of how much you think you may have to migrate to Israel with.
4) The Paperwork –Nefesh B'Nefesh / Jewish Agency
Start your paperwork early. Some of the paperwork took my wife and I the better part of 2 years to complete. We're still working on the remainder of the paperwork as we are creating this blog. Information you learn from your interaction with Nefesh B'Nefesh can also influence your decisions about where to live. There is the Go North Program, the Go South Program, and various employment help programs.
5) Consider your religious observance
This one is a tricky one, but crucially important. The way Israel functions with respect to Religious observance is not how it works in the diaspora. I strongly suggest that anyone reading this blog aim for an Orthodox community, even if you aren't Orthodox already. How many Shul's are there? Where are they located? Is there only one 'type'? Or are there many 'types'? Are there 'streams'?
6) Factor in your family’s needs
Our plan will also need to take into account our dependents/family. There are of course many important considerations in this category such as how many schools are there in the communities that you have short listed? What type(s) of schools exist? (this is why we want to consider religion above, as it will impact your school choices) What grades? What do they teach? Is there any feedback on those schools? How far are pediatricians or doctors? What services are available in the community? What percentage of the community speaks English? What are the housing options? Are your children in school presently? If so that may limit the months in which you can make Aliyah. Do you have pets? If so, are you taking them with you? What are the options?
7) Medical Considerations
Are there special medical needs that you or your family have? This may be an important factor in determining where you can ultimately live in Israel. That's why this one is so high up on the list.
8) Climate considerations
While Israel may be considered a small country geographically, it surprisingly has a large number of 'climate types' within its borders. The type of climate you may be comfortable living in may be an important factor in selecting a location to live. For me this certainly was the case, which will discuss in more detail later.
9) Make a Community Short List
After your first pilot trip, we want to have a 'short list' of communities that we are considering. Perhaps 3-4 solid options that you think you could live in comfortably. You will want to write them down, and note your general feelings about each. We previously wrote a bit about selecting a community.
10) Financial Planning
So how much money did you have again? And how does that budget match your short list? Do you need to revise your shortlist in light of the budget and your findings from your pilot trip?
11) What to do with your home, or large assets
Do you own a house? Are you planning on renting it out or selling? How about a cottage? Boat? We'll deal with cars separately. If selling your house, how long would it take you to get it ready to sell? Renovations? Cashflow to make the sale? Or perhaps you rent/lease? How long is the lease for? Are you able to break it early? What are the options?
12) Financial Planning
Now that you've considered selling your house, or renting it out, do your financials again. How does that impact the community choices you have made?
13) Figure out your employment opportunities
Im sure there are many folks that would think this should be higher on the list, but it's not for a good reason (B"H we'll get into that when we do a deeper dive on this topic). Is your job transferable to Israel? What field are you in? What are the practical options for employment in Israel? What about other 'jobs' and passive income? Are there other routes you can choose?
14) Pilot Trip - again
I would suggest making another pilot trip about now in your process. Re-visit the communities on your short list. Spend some time in them. Spend Shabbat in your top 2 locations. Which are you most comfortable in? Which meet your requirements the most? What are the objections/concerns you have? Developing Emuna starts to become more important here.
15) Select your community
Now it's time to select your community. It's a big step, but here we go. The remainder of your planning will be based on this choice. Don't second guess yourself.
16) Financial Planning
Now that you have selected your community - run your financials again. Are you going to rent first? For how long? Are you going to do Ulpan? For how long? What are the salary ranges for potential jobs that you realistically believe that you can get in the community you have selected?
17) Select what to move
Throw out your garbage. Be merciless. Throw out your garbage again. If you havent touched it in a year, throw it out, unless its worth money. Sell the items you think you can realistically sell. Now identify what you want to take and those that you dont. One way to accomplish this is to tag your items with small stickers - Green - it goes. Yellow, you arent sure. Red, its not going. Throw out your garbage. Now throw out your garbage again. Buying in Israel is often cheaper than shipping it.
How does the landing part work? Where do you go? What if you dont have family there you can live with?
18) Decide if you need a car and if you will purchase it there or ship it
What is your transportation plan in Israel? Are you going to ship your car? Are you going to buy a car there? No car?
19) Sell or rent out your current house
List your home. Yep, might be a bit scary, but its going to be ok. Remember, don't panic. Get the most you can for your home, and plan your closing carefully. You need enough time to pack your goods, and ship what you plan to ship early. Other items will be shipped later. There are pro's and con's to each approach. B"H we'll discuss in more detail later.
20) Financial Planning
How is that financial plan working out? Do you have as much as you excepted or possibly more?
21) Pack and ship your stuff
What should you pack and take to Israel with you? What should you ship when? What is critical and what is not? How do you handle the kids things? What about pets/animals?
22) Finding a landing pad
Selecting your short term rental. How long should it be? What items will you need? How do we minimize disruption on little ones? Remember, don’t panic.
23) Financial Planning
How is that money looking? Do we need to alter our plan at all?
24) Buying or renting a home on a more permanent basis
Choosing the buy vs rent. This will depend on the global economy and Israel's economy as well as exchange rates, and your overall financial situation
Whew! that was a big list but we made it!
The list has been summarized below if it helps as a reminder, and you want a quick copy and paste.
Make a written log!
Go on an initial pilot trip
Create a financial plan
The Paperwork –Nefesh B'Nefesh / Jewish Agency
Consider your religious observance
Factor in your family’s needs
Make a community short list
What to do with your home, or large assets
Figure out your employment opportunities
Pilot trip - again
Select your community
Select what to move
Decide if you need a car and if you will purchase it there or ship it
Sell or rent out your current house
Pack and ship your stuff
Find a temporary landing pad
Buy or rent a home on a more permanent basis
"...[Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai] used to say, 'If while holding a sapling in your hand you are told that the Messiah is about to arrive, first plant the sapling and then go out to receive the Messiah'" "Planting trees and settling the land of Israel do not run counter to the arrival of the Messiah. To the contrary, they complement this vision and prepare the path for his coming." – Tree Planting - the Redemption Revealed Rabbi Uzi Kalchaim zt"l