This past week has been all about checking off our super-long post-aliyah to-do list. We started off our week by picking up our TZs, Teudat Zehuts, from the Nefesh BNefesh office. Apparently you need your TZ number for so many things in Israel. Once we had those, we were ready to open our Israeli bank account. We are fortunate to live only a short walk from the local mall which has multiple banks, health clinics, and stores. We polled our friends that live locally, and chose the bank with the least negative reviews. Banks here are notoriously difficult to deal with and charge fees to do "everything." When we checked the hours, we realized that they were closed for a three hour break in the middle of the day, which is typical in Israel. We headed to the food court for some lunch, ran a quick errand and then waited patiently for the doors to open.
The bank took about an hour and half from start to finish. We were warned that it would be a very difficult process, so 90 minutes with friendly bankers seemed like we got off too easy. We were told we would have to come back for our credit card, and that after that we could deposit money into the account and order checks. After day one, we checked off TZs and bank account.
Friday morning we borrowed a car and drove into the old city. We were so excited to bring our children to the kotel. We showed them one of the many reasons we moved to Israel.
The next big thing was to get our phone plans. We brought unlocked smart phones from the US, but did not have SIM cards yet. We were actually advised that the process would be easier in person, and that we may be able to get better deals if we waited until we got to Israel to get our phone plans. In the meantime, we were using the SIM card we received from the Misrad Haklita and a borrowed phone from my parents. Signing up for phone plans was pretty straight forward. And with that, we had Israeli phone numbers!
We spent our first shabbat as Israeli citizens with family. It was a beautiful weekend and wonderful chance for family bonding. I was relieved not to have to make shabbat meals while we were still jet lagged.
Sunday was playdates for the kids. We took the opportunity to do some mall shopping and get our Rav Kav cards, which will enable us to ride the bus. My husband went to a networking event to officially start his job search now that we are in the country.
On Monday, we ran some errands and then quickly realized that our baby was sick. He had some fever over shabbat, but we chalked it up to teething or possibly a small virus. On Monday, his fever was back again. We needed to see a pediatrician, but did not know where to start. I phoned a friend, and she was able to direct me to an English speaking, local pediatrician. She warned us that the doctor has strange hours, so we should just call and try to see him. We called and were told to come right in. We ran across town, with three girls trailing behind. Since it had been less than a week since we landed, we were not fully in the insurance system. We were told we would have to pay privately and be reimbursed for the visit. The doctor was friendly and BH our baby is doing great. Although unintended, we can check off finding a pediatrician.
After four trips to the hardware store, we finally were able to hook-up our washing machine. I was able to start working on the heaps of laundry that seemed to be growing by the second. Our wonderful nieces came to play with our girls, so we could go to the Misrad Haklita and attend a meeting to learn more about new olim benefits and how to get them. We also had an individual appointment to complete some necessary paperwork. The meeting took a very long time, and by the end we were hungry and tired. Fortunately, we were right near Maoz felafel. I can't believe it took almost a week for our first felafel meal. It was just as good as I remembered!
Today our home internet was installed. In Israel, internet service is broken into two separate components - infrastructure and ISP. The infrastructure is the actual hardwire connection, of which there are two providers: Bezeq (DSL) and HOT (cable). These two companies also provide ISP services, but you do not have to purchase ISP through them. There are several other companies who sell ISP services, and if you shop around, you can get good deals and better internet capabilities. We, however, wanted to do this as simply as possible, so we went with HOT for both infrastructure and ISP.
Another "simple" check on the list. All we had to do was call the company and make an appointment for installation. After the technician left, we walked back to the mall to complete our health insurance registration. We had already signed up for our designated health insurance with the Misrad Haklita in the airport, but after 7 days we were able to go to the actual office and confirm our registration. Our cards will be mailed to us, and we were provided with a temporary number for the interim. We also signed up for supplemental coverage while in the office. We then went to the bank, picked up our Kotel credit card (we had to choose this design - that's why we're here!) and ordered checks.
One week down and we can check off Tehudat Zehuts, Health Insurance, bank accounts, cell phones and home internet, installation of appliances, and choosing a physician. Not bad in my book!