Now that we are settling into a regular routine, it has been easy to fill my time with housework and taking care of our family. It is almost easy to forget that we still have outstanding new olim tasks to take care of. For example, we just transferred our drivers licenses over to Israel this week. We hope to take care of our Israeli passports as soon as the three month wait time has passed. We are still working through a few kinks in our apartment and learning more about the medical system each day.
Last week my girls were scheduled to get their vaccines in school. As planned, I accompanied them to school. We sat in a small auditorium-type area for almost two hours while the records were sorted out. Just as I suspected, my girls received their vaccinations in the U.S. on a different schedule than the one followed here. The nurses were not sure if my children needed to receive the vaccines again (which I was not planning to allow without further medical consultation). So, we waited while the nurses contacted their superiors.
I got a chance to be a fly on the wall and observe the students and the school in action as they came to get their shots. The girls were nice for the most part, but more rowdy than I was used to seeing in a school environment. What really impressed me was how patient the principal was with the girls. They were clearly disturbing his office, and his reaction was to ask the girls to sing rather than scream. He was smiling the whole time, and very friendly. There was no yelling even when he had to return a few more times.
After two hours, the decision was made to only provide my girls with the flu shot. Our immunization records were translated into a pinkas and now, hopefully we will be better prepared for next years vaccine day.
After that day, two out of six of us received our flu shots. The rest of us still needed to go to the kupa to get ours. That proved to be a project on its own. When I went into the office two Fridays ago they told me the nurse’s hours and said to return then to get our flu shots. I brought my daughter and son with me on one of those days. When we got there I was told that they do not have the vaccines in that office. They said they might get them at the end of the week and I should call to confirm. I called three times and was not able to get in touch with them. I was advised by a few friends to try another office as they were more likely to have the shots.
This afternoon we were in the mall running some errands. We were actually significantly later than I had hoped to be. I decided to run into the kupa one more time to check if they have the flu shots in stock. Surprisingly, they did! And the nurse was planning to be there at 4 PM. It was already after 3, and we had not done our shopping yet. We had been warned that after school nurse hours can be very busy, so by 3:45PM we went to the waiting room to make sure to be first in line for the nurse. When the nurse came and set up her computer, we each went in and got our flu shots. Only three attempts and 45 minutes of waiting later, but we were all vaccinated. I think my baby might have to return for a second round in four weeks, but for now we can check this off our to do list.
Monday was our day to tackle the driver’s license conversion. We had planned to do as much of our driver’s license conversion as we could get done in one day, BH we were able to complete the whole process in a few hours! Since we have proof of being licensed in America for the past five years, we were able to take advantage of an expedited transfer process. Keep in mind expedited still means going to three different places. Our first stop was an optical store. We found one listed on the Nefesh BNefesh website that was supposed to provide something called a tofes yarok. The store opened at 9 AM, but the person who is able to provide these special green papers only comes at 9:30AM. So, we waited. By 9:30 there were about four other people in the store, but we were called in first. We gave the man our old teudot zehut. He asked us if we needed an eye exam, and we said that it was our understanding that since we were doing the expedited process we did not. He took our pictures, printed out a form and we were done with the first step.
We walked to the DMV which was only about a seven minute walk from the optical store. We took a ticket and waited while the few people before us took their turns. When our number was called, we handed in our tofes yarok and old licenses and the man processed our temporary license. Next we went to the post office, paid for our licenses and asked the man behind the counter if we were able to drive with our Israeli licenses now. He smiled and said: “Carefully. In this country, drive carefully.” I smiled back and thought about how amazing it is to live in a country where people feel responsibility for their fellow Jews.
Additionally, we noted that in each office, most of the workers wore kippas or covered their hair if they were married women. We even noticed a security guard stopping to say asher yatzar after his bathroom trip. What an amazing country we live in. Even the government offices are full of frum people.
For me, it is important to try to do a few tasks each week. Each new thing takes research and multiple attempts to get it right. There are some really frustrating moments when I feel like I just do not know how I am going to do anything in this new country. When I start to think about all the things we still have not figured out, I get overwhelmed and discouraged. The key for me is not trying to do too many new things at once. So, I set small goals for myself. This week was drivers licenses and flu shots. Since those were both successful, next week I can move onto other things on my list.