Our Aliyah Adventure: Only-in-Israel Moments

Our Aliyah Adventure: Only-in-Israel Moments

More first person accounts of aliyah from former Atlantans Mort and Edie Barr.

Mort and Edie Barr
Mort and Edie Barr

Living in Israel is truly a privilege. A Facebook group called Only in Israel lists amazing things that can happen only here in a Jewish country. We have experienced them also.

We recently ordered a wall-mounted, fold-away clothes-drying rack online. A day later, the provider in Haifa called to explain that the product ID had changed, but it was the same product. Our Hebrew skills were inadequate, so we asked the caller to speak in English to ensure we understood the details.

The next day when the UPS delivery came, we spoke in Hebrew, but the courier spoke only in English. When we asked him why he didn’t answer in Hebrew, he showed us that the delivery notice instructed him to speak to the customer in English.

Deliveries in the language of your choice, we guess.

In August, we were visiting the Old City in Jerusalem with our daughter and family from New Jersey. We ate dinner at a barbecue restaurant. Our granddaughter forgot her iPad on the table, and when we went back to get it, it was gone. We decided it was stolen.

My daughter later told me that someone found the iPad and posted the pictures from it on Facebook, asking whether anyone recognized the people in them. Someone did and called my daughter.

We got in touch with the person who found the iPad and discovered that she lives a few feet from our son-in-law’s co-worker in Bnei Brak. Thus, the iPad will be returned. Such honesty and effort to return a valuable lost object are typical of Israel.

On a recent Sunday, the Misrad HaKlitah (Ministry of Absorption) celebrated Olim (New Immigrant) Day. Beit Shemesh had a free concert with free bus transportation in the evening and a carnival for children the next day after school. Are new immigrants treated this way in the United States?

Rosh Hodesh Cheshvan began Senior Month in Israel. Our municipality planned many great events for us. It began with a free concert with a well-known singer. There were low-cost trips to places all over the country, including Be’er Sheva, Tel Aviv and a kibbutz. Senior Month also offered cooking, arts and crafts, and other workshops.

Israel has many benefits for seniors on a regular basis. Public transportation is half-price, and special seats on buses are reserved for seniors. Every Tuesday, movies are only 11 shekels (about $3). Museums and sightseeing locations always have reduced rates for seniors.

It is said Israel is a land of miracles. They happen every day.

A friend and neighbor of ours needed a liver and kidney transplant. She is 60 and has many health issues, and we feared she would not get the transplants in time to save her life.

One Friday night, as we gazed out our garden toward her building across the street, we noticed United Hatzalah (the volunteer ambulance corps) and a police car with lights flashing but no sirens because they would disturb the neighbors on Shabbat. They stopped in front of her building.

We worried that something had happened to her. But it turned out that our friend could not be reached by phone on Shabbat, so they came to get her. After she was on the transplant waiting list only two weeks, a man who happened to be an exact match died.

She was taken to Hadassah Hospital. The double transplant operation took 21 hours. She came home after one month and was living a normal life again after two months.

Her nurses and doctors were Arabs and Jews working together to save lives. Something to marvel at and be proud of.

The waiting room at the health clinic that we frequent has reading material for patients, but instead of magazines, there are Tehillim (Psalms), the Mishnah and siddurim (prayer books). The nearby rental car waiting room has the same kinds of books.

Last but not least regarding only-in-Israel moments are the mundane things that convert ordinary life into Jewish life in Israel.

Garbage collection follows the Jewish holiday calendar. Garbage pickup is always the day after Shabbat, with extra pickup days before and after each Jewish holiday.

It’s remarkable to see the front and rear signs on buses rotating between the destination and “Shabbat Shalom” or “Chag Sameach” or a “Shanah Tovah.” Truly an inspiring Israeli sight to behold.

We have lived in many places over the years and made friends we had to leave behind. Little by little, they are moving here to Israel, and our friendships are continuing where we left off so many years before. You can’t help but feel the hand of Hashem in this wonderful land.

Mort and Edie Barr lived in Atlanta from 2006 until they made aliyah March 30, 2016. Their reporting on their aliyah experience won them a Rockower Award from the American Jewish Press Association.

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