Saturday, October 11, 2008

Aliyah memories: “So, how did you ever manage during the tzena?!”

Shavua tov, Our Shiputzim fans!

The great thing about having made aliyah several years before Nefesh B’Nefesh came into existence is that many newer olim tend to view us with awe.

The typical exchange goes something like this:

New oleh: {suitably impressed} Wow! You came without NBN?!

Member of the Shiputzim family: {with just the right touch of modesty} Well, yes, now that you mention it, I suppose we did…

I love having this conversation, because I get to pretend that we came in the 1950’s and spent time in the ma’abarot. Or even that we came on the First Aliyah and had to drain the swamps.

However, the truth is that – with one notable exception, which I hope to blog about in an upcoming post – we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the much maligned Israeli bureaucracy really isn’t that bad.

Here, then, are the Our Shiputzim tips for handling Israeli bureaucracy:

1. Always bring all your documents with you – the more obscure and seemingly irrelevant the better. (B”N, I hope to post more about this rule as well.)

2. Don’t plan on visiting more than one office a day.

3. Make sure to have a big, fat book with you. Hopefully, you won’t have time to finish it.

4. Never, never, never yell or pull rank. Instead, defer to the clerk (that’s pakid for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you) and show him/her that you’re in trouble and that s/he’s the only one who can help you. The same gruff pakid, who barely looked up as you sat down and certainly had no time for polite chitchat, will do everything in his/her power to help you if s/he sees that you’re really in a bind.

Feel free to add any of your own rules in the comment section.

And that’s about it for now.

Tune in next time when I hope to have another food-related post. (I know that you’ll want to see if it can beat the tzimmes post – the all-time Our Shiputzim record holder for greatest number of comments.)

Have a good night and a good week from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

P.S. I posted a follow-up to this post here.


  1. 5. Bring a crying baby along. If you don't have a baby, borrow one. It helps get attention. People will let you go ahead in the line. Tha pakid will also want to speed you on your way.

  2. 5. Bring a crying baby along.
    Great tip!

  3. Assume that you will have to visit each office three times. If you only go twice, you are ahead of the game.

    Try taking an (older) baby and being pregnant.

  4. MII -
    You're right. It's always good to assume the worst, because then you just may end up being pleasantly surprised...

    Try taking an (older) baby and being pregnant.
    Very true! Being pregnant practically guarantees you a spot at the front of the line.

    Moadim L'Simchah.

  5. We came by boat; no, no sails.

  6. Batya: I've heard that making aliyah by boat was great in that it gave you a week's vacation at sea. Apparently, you had a week on the boat to relax and unwind after all the packing before you had to face all the challenges which lay ahead.

    Was this your experience?

    Choref tov.

  7. I third the crying baby one. I never got through misrad hapnim so fast as when I brought my month old son to register him and he screamed his head off. I was calmly filling out the forms, because that's what I had to do, and the pakid ran up and shuffled me to the front and offered to fill out everything for me, just to get him to stop crying!

    Same thing with my brother. He offered to take care of my second for a few hours when she was a few months old and he had to run some errands,which included going to the licensing office. He was also shuffled right up to the front of the line when he walked in with the sal kal.
    Babies are priceless for these trips!

  8. Commenter Abbi:
    Babies are priceless for these trips!
    It actually sounds like a great business venture: While one is on chofshat leidah anyway, one could set up a stand outside Misrad HaPnim and rent out one's baby...

    (Disclaimer: To all the potential flamers out there - I'm kidding!)

  9. Hi, Everyone!
    I posted a follow-up to this post here.


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