Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Essentials to take to Israel: Hockey Pucks and Black Heels

Although the mere thought of moving abroad could have sent my marriage into a stressed-induced tailspin, my husband and I have managed this move considerably well. Very well in fact. We’ve doled out responsibilities, supported each other, set up weekly “aliyah meetings” over relaxing dinners together and become hyper-aware of the other’s needs.

 We are a well-oiled aliyah machine. Kicking ass and taking names. Just call us the Chuck Norris of moving abroad.

That is until the packing began. I have mentioned before my other half may have pack rat tendencies. I, on the other hand, can fill exactly one box of “things” that I have an emotional attachment to. If allowed, DH would fill an entire walk in closet, plus a office and a small hallway closet of items he deems important. Oh wait…he already has.

In marriage, one learns much about his or her partner’s eccentricities and in marriage one must love his or his partner in spite (or because of) those eccentricities. As a self-professed type A control freak married to a self-professed pack rat, I have learned the art and beauty of ignoring the clutter. If it is out of sight, I do my best ignore it-which is far from my desire to go in the closet armed with only industrial sized trash bags and enough Red Bull to get me through one glorious night of organizing. Oh yes, that closet would call me daddy after I was done with it.

I only learned this after our previous move from Washington D.C. Admittedly, in the process of packing, I threw out his prized hockey puck. In my defense, it looked like a regular ol’ hockey puck to me and he hasn’t played hockey since Vanilla Ice had a hit record.

So yes, I threw out his precious hockey puck. But lesson learned….my husband is a borderline hoarder and I am a heartless witch.

Back to this packing adventure. It may be better understood if I simulate an hour of packing in TheBride’s residence:

Me: Toss it, Keep it, Pack it up. Toss it, toss it, toss it, keep it, pack it up. Toss it, toss it, toss it, keep it, pack it up.

After an hour, I have successful packed up the entire living room and half the kitchen.
DH: Oooh…I forgot about this!! Then proceeds to plays with new found toy for 5 minutes. Throws away 3 old CD’s, keeps 15 old CD’s. Hon, do you think I need my boxing gloves in Israel? You know what, I’m taking them. Goes through my trashed items to make sure I haven’t thrown away anything of his. Throws out a basketball…neither of us play basketball.Takes back the basketball and packs it just in case.

After an hour, DH has managed to pack 15 CD’s we will never use, a basketball that hasn’t been touched in 3 years and of course his prized hockey puck which he made me retrieve from the dumpster after I tossed it during the last move.

I’ve had it. I’m about march into that spare room and tell him what’s what when he casually says from the other room: Hon, do you have to take all 10 pairs of black heels with you?

So yes, maybe we all have our eccentricities. I love shoes. He lets me love shoes so I will let him take his boxing gloves to Israel. And that damned hockey puck.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Visa Blessings from an Internet Angel

As I am sitting here, taking a much needed break from filling out tiny boxes on countless pieces of paper, making endless phone calls, harassing government officials and deciphering the demands of the Israeli government, I marvel at the implausible blessings we’ve been given during this process. But I guess all blessings are unbelievable and surprising at the time.

As in a previous post, I told you I don’t believe in signs…but sometimes it is really hard not to. We’ve always said the reason we’re moving now and haven’t before is because it seems like today…right at this moment…all roads lead to Israel. Windows open when doors slam shut. New roads open up when dead ends block our way. Blessings are given when we feel like giving up.

I got another one in the form of an internet angel this weekend.

Getting me a visa to enter Israel has been a long and draining process. We are never given the answers we’re looking for and when we do, we are usually pointed in the wrong direction anyway. I have been warned before that the Ministry of Interior is quite conservative. They really don’t like dealing with intermarriages and seemingly make life a bit more difficult for non-Jewish spouses of Israelis.

DH and I were told last week that all I needed to get my B1 visa was to show up at the Ministry of Interior with my passport and marriage certificate once we arrived in Israel. That seemed too easy. It wasn’t possible that it was that easy and that made us even more uneasy. Then my angel arrived, out of the internet abyss and handed me a key to the madness.

As you can imagine, there are not too many interfaith families immigrating to the Jewish State. The Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh who are helping my husband make aliyah don’t really know how to handle my situation, so they try their best, but end up with as many questions as we have. My angel came in the form of a fellow international blogger, the author of From 外人 to גוי, who is a non-Jewish gal married to an Israeli guy trying to figure out the maze of Israeli immigration (check out her blog…it’s insightful, well-written and has some amazing photos and videos).

Apparently, as I had anticipated, I don’t just have to show up with my passport and marriage certificate to get my visa. Apparently, as I had anticipated, there are quite a few hoops to jump through before I even step foot on that plane leaving August 31.

Here’s the list of items one will need to get a visa and/or permanent residency from the State of Israel. It’s a little more than a passport and marriage certificate I’d say.

1) Apostilled background check, “Letter of Good Conduct”, with both maiden and married names from the FBI/State Police (You need to be fingerprinted at your local police station.)

2) Apostilled proof of being single from State of Residence and State of Marriage (this document doesn’t exist some states, but the state of Alabama CAN get you one)

3) Apostilled marriage certificate

4) Original birth certificate (if before 1989, no need to order certified and apostilled copy)

5) Passport, plus photocopy of front page and tourist visa

6) Two passport pictures, Israeli size (slightly smaller than American versions)

7) Evidence of shared bank accounts

8) Letter in Hebrew explaining how we met, signed and dated by us

8) Evidence of financial support while in Israel, signed by Israeli lawyer

10) Copy of Israeli apartment deed, signed by Israeli lawyer

11) Signed affidavits in Hebrew with contact info from three Israeli friends vouching for validity of marriage

12) Photos from before, during, and after wedding as evidence of valid relationship

I'm off to get fingerprinted, apostilled, notarized, stamped, copied, signed and checked.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Israel: The Weird Kid In Class

The Israelis have requested yet another passport photo of me and DH. I’m serious. Another one. After we’ve already sent them 10. What are they doing with those things? No, you know what...I don’t wanna know. They can keep their weird government secrets.

I’ve come to realize the Israeli government is sort of like that weird kid in your 4th grade class. He was a little strange and nobody really liked him, but he was mysterious and intriguing all the same. His only friends were the other loner kids that nobody really liked either.

In fact, Israel is a lot like that weird kid. You know who I’m talking about, you had one in your class too.

You hung out with him during the summer because he had really cool toys and was kind of fun. But once school started again he always tried to talk to you in the halls, but you were scared of being seen with him so you turned your back to him. He'd ask you why you ignored him and you felt bad.  You knew he was right, but it wasn't the cool thing to do.  

The teacher would scold you in front of the whole class if you picked on him and sometimes even threaten to take away your recess. But someone always picked on him anyway, because... well, what is a little yelling really gonna do? Besides the teacher never followed through with any of those threats.

Those weird kids, they were tough s.o.b’s. Mostly because everyone was always trying to fight with them all the time. He’d kick some ass too. He’d go home with a black eye, but always come back to school the next day ready to forgive to make some friends, but willing to fight all over again if he had to.

So yeah, Israel is a lot like that weird kid.