The First 24 hours

The first 24 hours feels so unreal after aliyah. Even though I knew the basics of what was going to happen nothing prepares you for the true experience of coming home. For me the most stressful part was having my dog and keeping her calm. It didn’t work. She barked incessantly when I picked her up from baggage claim. She had to sue the bathroom and she was starving. It was obvious to me that she had been a little traumatized by the experience of riding in the plane. She was scared and definitely felt like I had abandoned her.

I arrived to my temporary home later that night, after spending about 2-3 hours at the ministry of absorption getting my ID card, signing for healthcare, and all the other things new slim have to do once they become Israeli citizens. I was so tired and out of it that I forgot my backpack (with my laptop, iPad, and all the important paperwork) on the shuttle. The bas part was that it took me an hour to notice it was gone. Lucky for me the shuttle driver had dropped the bag off in the courtyard in the place I was staying and all my goods were still there.

The home I am staying at is filled with visits from the states. This is nice but I think it also contributes to the not real feeling as well as the this is not my place feeling, despite me unpacking everything and setting up my temporary room. I think this part did make Autumn feel a little bit more settled but she is definitely exhausted and having a bad case of separation anxiety.

I had a job interview scheduled for the Thursday morning, a little more than 12 hours after my arrival. I am staying in Jerusalem but the job is in Tel Aviv. This meant having to wake up and get on the bus at 5 am. WellI was up at 2 am (after not going to bed until midnight) and I couldn’t fall back asleep so I walked Autumn, showered and gave her a bath, then I was off. I heard her barking from the street the poor thing and I wanted to just call off the interview and stay with her. But I also didn’t want to reinforce her barking so I said a little prayer for her to stop and apologized to all the neighbors (in my head) and keep going.I couldn’t find the bus stop and ended up walking for an hour before just taking a taxi. Well the taxi guy was nice but took me to the wrong city and then of course blamed it on me.

I was late for the interview and feeling very drained emotionally we met and talked about the job. I was able to see a little of what she does and her interactions. She then asked me if I would like to do a trial day to see how it would go. She offered for me to do it this day so I did. I rode over to the nursery school where I would be working with the kids 1-2 years old. At first I felt kind of weird and out of my element. The teacher in charge wanted to talk and ask questions an d it felt so hard. I watched a little and then kind of jumped right in. I don’t know when it happened but I just clicked and had a blast with some really adorable little ones. I didn’t even think about me being on a trial day or this being part of an interview I just enjoyed the kids and it was fun seeing where they were developmentally. I even made a fiend with one little cute boy who was about 2 and had on the best outfit. As we went out to play for the second time a woman from the other classroom pulled me aside and reported that the head teacher had told her I was doing great and she was definitely pleased. So after working for about 2 hours I was done and the boss called me and offered me the position. I told her I would have to think about it, even though it would most likely be a yes. I knew that at least for the first couple weeks to a month I’d be in Jerusalem plus I was still concerned about Autumn adjusting.

When I returned to the apartment, it was quiet. She eventually came down and created me quietly. I had looked up how to cure separation anxiety and it was recommended not to make a big deal of leaving and returning. So I calmly said hey big girl and walked and did my thing with her following me. We had a pretty quiet afternoon as I did laundry, cooked some for (I had not yet eaten that day and it was all ready 2pm), and just walked around, still not feeling real.

Autumn and I dyed down to nap and then the house guests returned, saying hello, and of course causing Autumn to bark. they came up t the room and said hello to us, petting Autumn while she barked and made noises at them (she seems to like them and her them). I apologized for her barking in the morning and they were very sweet and kind in forgiving me/her. They said she only really barked for about 30 minutes and then she was fine so that made me feel a little better. I let them know that the weekend would be dedicated to me working on eliminating the barking when I leave. I let them know about the job and how the woman wanted me to start on Monday.

I then took a nap, because I was really exhausted, and woke up to another guest-I happened to have met her at shabbat dinner a few weeks back when I first came to this home. She was going grocery shopping for the family which  would be returning the following day (Friday). I then headed back upstairs, turned on some music and felt my mind kind of clear. I had decided I would take the job. the pay is low but it’s sufficient. I realized that by taking this job and moving to Tel Aviv I would be more free to have my online practice. On the plane I finished reading the book “Pushout” about black girls and how the school system is failing them. About these young women who are being exploited and trafficked by pimps and their process of healing. I thought about what my passion which is trauma work, and I wanted to do more for my community. For black girls. So I contacted Beacon Health options which handles Alameda county medi-cal and asked about online therapy and reimbursement. The paperwork was re-sent to me and I filled it out. I’m hoping that within a couple weeks I will have gotten approval and I can start seeing clients online and taking medi-cal.

So now it’s all beginning to feel a little more real. It’s a little more than 24 hours and even though I didn’t get to open my bank account (they were closed when I returned to Jerusalem) and I hadn’t chosen a phone company (or used my free 200 minutes on my sim card), I have a job and a temporary place to live. I know what my salary will be and I can start apartment hunting. I’m not feeling the inch for this, and I am prepared to hustle. I think once the family returns and Autumn meets them they were will be less anxiety on my part about leaving her in the mornings. I have never planned to live here more than a month, so I will check with the family to see if I can move after receiving my first paycheck just to be on the safe side. I have reached out about a roommate but I kind of like the idea of living alone, if I can make it happen.

Autumn makes Aliyah Part 4

The pick up from the airport was rough. I accidentally walked past Autumn as she lay in in her crate and she started barking like a mad dog. She had been in there for about 18 hours and she had to pee and she was hungry-poor thing.I got my luggage, and needed to carts to take care of it. She barked as I tried to get all my bags. She barked as we walked through the airport to the taxi area. She barked up until I let her out of the kennel and she could use the bathroom. 

The taxi driver was nice and let Autumn stay outside of her kennel as we road from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem. She was quiet for the most part and she looked really confused as we drove. Overall I think she did very well, and my heart just melted for her knowing she had that long as ride.

Saying Goodbye

It didn’t hit me until after I dropped Autumn off at the Oversized baggage area.

On Sunday morning I left my home and my siblings in Berkeley. I packed my bags into my car (my back was killing me) and headed off to my cousins house in Manteca. Due to some last minute logistics (lots of hugs and tears, as well as cancelling of Directv). We left about two hours after I had planned (it was 11:15 when we hit the road) and it was awful. I-5 sucks when everyone is driving home from the bay area. So Instead of it taking 4 hours it took about 8 hours. Everyone in the car was miserable. Autumn did amazing though, only whining a few times when the car slowed down.

By the time we go to the hotel (at around 8) we were all tired. My cousin got food, I took autumn to the bathroom and put the pajamas on. I felt anxious though about the following day-my aliyah day. I was worried forAutumn. I was worried for myself and carrying these bags by myself.

Autumn did not like the hotel. Every time  people got loud (running up and down the hall way) she would bark-so loud and aggressively, scaring us half to death (because we were sleeping). She did this 3 times during the night. Autumn has been in hotels before and she did well. I think the stress of driving to LA and saying goodbye might have also affected her behavior.

My alarm sounded at 6 am but I was tired and she was sleeping so I went back to bed…Well the barking woke me 15 minutes later so we were off for our walk. Autumn hated it-she did not want to go for a walk. She kept pulling to go back to the hotel but I knew I needed her to be tired. I also was very anxious about taking her to the airport and he woke process because I didn’t know what to expect or how to manage all by myself. I also know Autumn has separation anxiety and I feared she would make so much noise because she was in distress. The good thing about walking during that time was that I was able to come up with a plan to deal with Autumn and the bags at the airport and that was very regulating. I then spoke to my mom while we both walked and that was nice too.

Upon return Autumn did not eat. She also didn’t really eat the night before either which was concerning. (When I say she didn’t eat I meant she didn’t eat her dog food but she was about that Panda Express. She was very thirsty though. But knowing she had a fourteen hour flight plus her wait time (3 hours) she wouldn’t have a chance to use the bathroom so I let her drink her water cutting her off at 8:45.

Well we headed to the airport and I initially tried to check Autumn first but that did not work. I had to call my cousin back so I could get my bags, then pay the bell guy to bring the stuff in and then go through the line. This part was the part I had been dreading the whole time. Being alone with all my stuff and Autumn. I had this feeling of not knowing anything and it was so disconcerting. I also was anxious because my bags were heavy, which I knew and I had hoped that they wouldn’t charge me because some bags were heavier than others.

After passing through the security screening (he asked about my aliyah and the process of making aliyah. They asked me about my Hebrew name and other stuff). I went to the scales to weigh it all. Well Two bags were too heavy, with one being entirely too heavy that I’d have to chuck stuff. Well I panicked on the inside. I mean I had meticulously packed my bags and this was all the stuff I wanted that I could bring. I couldn’t afford to pay the extra money for the two heavy bags ($100) each plus Autumn ($200).

The man was very helpful though. He was like listen you have this small carryon here. go over there get a cheap bag at the store and take stuff out. I’ll let you have this extra carry on (so that would be three bags including this bag, backpack, and purse). So they let me leave my bags, I walked Autumn outside where she used the bathroom again, and I bought a new duffle bag for ($40). I then walked back over and sat on the ground rearranging stuff. In the end I gave up my laptop bag, a roll of  garbage bags, two old notebooks, my purple stappler, my purple tape dispenser and my huge bag of markers which included my favorite scissors. Some bags were slightly over but with all that commotion they had to take my bags because it was loading time.

With relief I paid the extra $100 for the one heavy bag and the $200 for Autumn. After they took the bags I walked Autumn over to the oversizeded baggage area where her kennel with through secuity, before she hoped in with her treat and we said goodbye.

As I walked away it hit me. All the avoidance and one track mind of getting to the airport was over. I had nothing to distract my feelings any more. I felt the tears well up as I mounted that escalator and looked around at sunny Los Angeles through the windows. California, my home. Where my family and friends are. PeopleI’ve known for my whole life or for large portions of my life. People who I could quote inside jokes or rap songs from my childhood with. The loss of everything that was familiar to the unknown where nothing is familiar. I didn’t hear Autumn at all as I left and yet I felt her loss as I left her. Like she was my last little bit that was tethering me to my life in California.

I had thoughts of turning around and “escaping”. Literally that’s howI felt like if I left an dissed my flightI was on the run or something. Because the drama of the bags I didn’t have a chance to sit. I got some good (I hadn’t even all day and it was 1pm). I walked through the airport to my terminal to catch the bus to get to the airplane. I continued to feel this heavy weight that I could not explain. As I sat in my seat watching them drive the bags and things over, wondering which one was Autumn in, I continued to feel that sense of loss. Saying goodbye was so hard. I no longer had any distractions because I was on the plane. We were doing it.

A young woman sat next to me and she began to talk to me. She was on her birthright trip with her brother. She had not heard about aliyah and I talked about it. Her mother is a Marriage and Family Therapist like me and she is transitioning to online counseling like me. the young woman works with human trafficking survivors and wants to go to law school where she can do human rights law and change policy with regards to how we treat victims of exploitation. We chit chatted and that heaviness began to dissipate. Those tears and feeling sob anxiety and loss were replaced by the awe of what I am embarking on. There is so much healing that needs to happen in this world and I get to still do it, while I also get to be in my spiritual home. I realized that the thing that makes this experience so great is that all the things I wanted for myself, interpersonally I will get to do. I want to get out of my comfort zone. Done! I don’t like talking to strangers yet I want to meet knew people and enjoy those platonic relationships with people who are different (and similar in ways) to myself. I will do that since I will be forced to make ew friends and new colleagues. I want to take risks and see the world. I want to have my on business as a therapist. I want to learn Hebrew and Arabic and whatever other language I encounter. Mostly I want a do over. I constantly say to myself that if I knew what I know now I would’ve done_________. As I threw away stuff from my bag I kept thinking your doing it all over. Your starting from the bottom again but this time with a different knowledge base and skill set.

Autumn makes Aliyah Part 3

I decided to dedicate this part to the part I found the hardest and that was having all my luggage and Autumn. I arrived at LAX around 10. Initially I wanted to arrive around 9:30 but that didn’t happen. 

So I arrived and walked with Autumn so she could use the bathroom. We then walked into the airport and I asked if I could check her in first but they wanted me to do it with all my luggage. So my cousin had to come back and I found a “bellboy” to get my bags out of the car. He told me that they were too heavy and that I would most likely have to take stuff out. I wish I had listened and my cousin could have taken the stuff back with her in my car. Any way I was able to walk with Autumn on her leash while the cart was pushed ahead. I waited in line and surprisingly Autumn did really well. She was definitely confused and stayed close by me. 

The security guard asks me questions and then I move to the weigh station. My bags were too heavy and so I had to deal with that. This whole process took about two hours and the whole time Autumn was really good. She only cried a little but really people loved her and my fear that people would look at me and judge me was gone. 

After getting the bags situated I then had to take autumn to the oversized baggage area where the separate security would check her Kennel and then Autumn would go with them. OF course she passed and I put her in a long with her treat. I didn’t say goodbye or anything because I didn’t want to make her more upset and anxious. 

I was really anxious about bringing my dog Autumn on the plane because she has a little separation anxiety and I didn’t want her losing her shit aka barking loudly and whining incessantly. Amplfying my nervous was that I didn’t really know what to expect with it all. I had googled stuff but nothing went into the type of detail I needed. So I want to be able to provide that for you-the person wanting to make aliyah with your dog. 

First: You will get to the airport and you will need all of your bags with you. My advice out the kennel on the cart with your bags and then walk with your dog on the leash. before entering the airport let the baby use the bathroom. 

Second: You go through the line like usual and then your stuff gets weighed. If your bags are all good your dog gets weighed and then you will pay for her.

Third: You will walk over, with your dog, carry-ons and the kennel to the oversized bagged section. At Lax it was a smaller area that was walled off with a large conveyor belt which your dog will go on after they are done. The security guard came over and checks the kennel for any residue using those chemical strips (sorry I don’t know the name). They don’t take your kennel apart. After you pass that you put your dog in the kennel and lock it up. 

Fourth: You say goodbye and walk away while the airport folks take your dog and put her on the belt so she can go down to the plane. 

Tips that I found really helped and I think made everything smoother for Autumn. 

#1: walk your dog and make them tired. Autumn did almost 6 miles and combined with the anxiety of not knowing what will happen and lack of sleep she was exhausted. 

#2 Feed your dog well before you leave. I fed Autumn about two hours before and I got to the airport three hours early so I was able to take her to the bathroom twice (the second time she went poo, on her walk she also pooed). 

#3 Walk with your dog in the airport while everything is getting ready. For Autumn it was all overwhelming and confusing so she stayed close to me and was quiet. She also got attention from people who talked to her and petted her. I think this helped her stay calm too because she wasn’t all alone in her kennel. 

#4 Have a really big treat for your baby in their kennel. When you say goodbye you can give them a treat and say goodbye calmly. Because they will be distracted they wont be as upset to see you leaving. 

Now of course these tips worked for me because my dog has horrible separation anxiety which leads to very loud barking and whining. This only happens in a place she’s unfamiliar with (not at home) so I was nervous that Autumn would melt down in the airport. She didn’t and that helped a lot. 

Autumn makes Aliyah: Part 2

Look at all the work I needed to do and that I was able to complete. 

Preparation before the flight: Checking off the pre aliyah checklist. 

NBN gives you a pre aliyah checklist for those making aliyah with their dog from the US. If your from another country your requirements may be different But below are mine. Man was it overwhelming at first. 

Health Certificate-this is done at your vet. they do a check up and fill out the form. At my vet the check up was $86 and for them to fill out the form was over $100. 

USDA Certified vets/CFIA certified vets-after I drove to Sacramento to my local USDA office. They checked the paperwork the vet submitted, including the rabies vaccine, tither test, microchip, and health ceritifcate. for them to endorse all this they charged me $121. If the rabies wasn’t involved it would’ve been $38. Smh my dog is expensive…but she is all done. 

EL AL-Impt info that I used to dot my i’s and cross my t’s. 

Pre-Aliyah Checklist

  • Health Requirements: 
    • Rabies Vaccination: Admin w/in 1 year but no less than a month prior to arrival 
      • My plan: Aliyah in December 2016—Rabies Vaccine done in June/July I did this due to fear of a reaction of IMHA)
      • Rabies Serological (Titer Test) is done after the Rabbies vaccine. This test measures he levels of rabies antibodies in your fur baby. 
        • Positive results are required prior to the completion of the health certificate. 
        • The results of the test must be obtained from an authorized laboratory. They need to show that your pet is responding to the rabies vaccine and that it is producing a sufficient level of antibodies.
        • Obtaining the results of the rabies serological test may take anywhere from 1-3 months depending on the lab in your area.
        • If your pet fails the test, another rabies vaccine will need to be administered and your pet will need to be retested a month later.
        • Once your pet has passed the Rabies serological test it is good for life if you have the results officially documented.
      • After receiving the vaccine get a copy of International Certificate of Rabies Vaccine issued by your veterinarian. 
      • Confirm how to obtain endorsement with your regional USDA/CFIA Branch ahead.  Make appointment if necessary 
        • David Ewey, Director
        • sacramento.vs.import.export@aphis.usda.gov
        • 916‐854‐3960
        • 10365 Old Placerville Rd, Suite 210 Sacramento, CA 95827
  • MicroChip/Electronic Chip Requirements (I used this site) I bought it on July 21, Wednesday and received it in earl August—-http://www.pettravelstore.com/pet-microchip/
    • Regulations require that the chip transmits on a frequency of 134.2 Kilohertz and can be read with a chip reader that conforms to the provisions of the ISO standard No. 11784 or of Annex A of ISO Standard 11785.
      • If the chip does not conform to these standards, the importer or the importer’s representative is required to be in possession of another means to read it. This is not the standard chip used in the United States.
      • Before getting your pet chipped, verify that your veterinarian is implanting the correct model. If not, you may be required to have your pet chipped again within five days of arriving in Israel.
      • If your vet does not carry them, ask if he/she can order it, or if he/she would be comfortable implanting the chip if you order it online. The chip is available for purchase on some pet websites.
    • At least a week prior to your pet’s flight (earlier is better)
  • Kennel Restrictions
  • Cost of Flying with Pets
    • The cost of carrying a pet is based on the weight of the animal + carrying container + its food

•Prices apply to animals accompanying a passenger on the same flight

•Payment can be made at the EL AL cash desk at the airport or at any EL AL branch

•The payment for carrying pets is made separately.  In other words, it is not included as part of the permitted baggage allowance

•If there any connection flights with other airlines, payment must be arranged directly with the other airline

Prices:
For an animal weighing up to 8 kg. – $100 in each direction.

For an animal weighing from 9-50 kg. – $200 in each direction.

For an animal weighing from 51-100 kg. – $400 in each direction.

Animals weighing over 100 kg. will be handled by EL AL Cargo (03-9716679).

Procedure for booking flights for animals

•All requests to carry animals accompanied by passengers in the cabin must be submitted to EL AL’s Reservations office, indicating the pet’s weight including its container and the container’s dimensions

•The Service Call Center will confirm receipt of the booking to the relevant travel agency

Required Documents

•All animals approved for carriage must have vaccination certificates and entry permits from the relevant authorities in transit and final destinations

•Carriage of animals to Israel:  dogs, cats and birds (more than 2 of each kind) and other animals, arriving with or without their owners, must have a veterinary import permit, issued by the head of the Veterinary Service

•Address: Ministry of Agriculture, POB B-12, Beit Dagan 50250, Israel

•Telephone: +972-3-9688986

•Fax: +972-3-9688963

•Ministry of Agriculture website: Veterinary Services Unit or the quarantine station in Ramla, address:  POB 63, Ramla, Israel; Fax:+972-3-9229906

•A written request for these permits, together with a valid check (rates are subject to change), must be sent no later than 10 days before the planned flight date for the animal

•The request must include:  the type of animal, sex, species, age, information about arrival in Israel, country of origin, other details

•Dogs, cats and birds (up to 2 of each type), accompanied by their owners in whose possession they have been overseas for at least 90 days, will be exempt from the need for an Israeli veterinary permit, but they must have a vaccination certificate and a health passport issued by a government veterinary official in the country of origin, declaring that the animal is healthy and free of infections or infectious diseases.  In addition, the certificate must indicate that the dog/ cat has been vaccinated against rabies, no more than one year and no less than one month before the date of arrival in Israel.  Dogs and cats under the vaccination age (three months) are not permitted to enter Israel

•When flying with animals from Israel, it is the passenger’s responsibility to ascertain the relevant documents and certificates required in transit and final destinations

Acceptance and hand ling

•The animal (pet) must be carried in a strong, closed container, purchased by its owners and approved by an EL AL representative

•The animal must not emit any bad odors

Flight Kennel preparations:

•Make sure your Flight kennel is marked according to instructions. The kennel must be recognizable for the airline staff as well as ground handlers and/or any other operator at the airports. The pet’s name, flight number, your name and phone numbers should be attached to the kennel throughout the journey.

•Remember to bring security seals in order to secure the kennel once entering the airport.

•Make sure that the kennel is clean and contains all the items your pet will need or want during the flight: Diaper, a bottle of water, a blanket or a toy etc.

•Make sure that the kennel does not contain food remainders, sharp objects or the leash.

•In case your traveling with a cat, make sure that the kennel wheels are not attached to the Flight kennel (if so, make sure you detach them before you reach the airport).

Pet Flight Documentations:

Make sure you bring all the forms necessary and that they are accessible:

•Imports/exports certifications (Import Permit, USDA etc.) and health certificates.

•Pet Passport (when traveling to/from or domestically in Europe)

•Vaccination booklet / records.

Preparing your pet for the flight:

•Do not feed your pet prior to the flight (feed him/her maximum 4 hours before the flight)

•Try to encourage your pet to drink as much as possible during the date of the flight.

•Dog owners, it is highly advised to take the dog for a very long relaxing walk before leaving towards the airport.

•Refrain from tranquilizers and all sorts of drugs that might calm your pet or put it to sleep unless a flight veterinarian advises otherwise.

Packing

IMG_6080.jpgTrying to decide what to pack has been incredibly hard. When you make aliyah you get three bags to take on the El Al flight but they must each be under 50 pounds or else you pay extra. (although I just learned that if you make aliyah this December then you get an extra bag for free). Now it’s not super expensive to pay more but really who wants to carry around bags that way more than 50 pounds any way. This is just the physical demand of it. Emotionally it is hard to. When you pack you essentially look at your life-like a history of all that you have done and accomplished. It’s kind of surreal. Because I’m packing a week earlier than I had intended I have been avoiding tapping into any time of emotions around this, essentially dissociating and only thinking about what is right in front of me (or watching episodes of the tv show Monk). 

So today I decided it was time for packing. I took down my massive desk and then set about putting materials into bags. I decided to divide them into 1) Therapy Materials 2) Kitchen and Bathroom 3) Bedroom/Living room materials. Well after filling my therapy bag to the brim I didn’t feel a sense of relief. Instead I felt the weight of the bag and knew that I had stuffed it to much and  would have to take things out.

Whats also going through my mind right now is my renewed focus on developing my private practice. So I feel conflicted about bringing all of my play therapy materials or just leaving them. I do plan to sublet an office in Jerusalem that is kid friendly. So really do I need to bring my own toys. (So later I decided to take almost everything out except for the books and place the toys into bins to bring at a later date. I then felt a sense of calm). 

The other awesome thing about making aliyah is that you get to bring in 3 separate tax free shipments. 1 shipment will be my car (in just under three years) and the second was going to be a lift. I have plans/hopes that I’ll be able to send for a lift around March or April when I have my own place and some money in the bank. So maybe, if I’m smart, I should think about the long game. The long game is to work my butt off, save up money and then bring in a lift. So again I feel a sense of calm over this decision.

The other interesting thing about making aliyah for me is that I spent all year saving money. This was so I could have a fusion while I job hunted. Well now that I’ve been without a job for a month and I’m tapping into the savings account I have been thinking more and more about my private practice. This is really my big dream. I had always thought I would split time between an agency and a private practice but the longer I have been in the game at the agency the more I’ve craved the autonomy of private practice. So I have decided to recommit, now that I have the time and the energy, to focus on my work dream. There is such a need for therapists out there and I really want to be more available less burned out to heal others. 

So I spent the day creating my goal sheet-a vision board for me to be able to visualize and make a point to achieve my goals. 

Through the whole aliyah process I have felt like I have had to opportunity to start over. To do all the things I wished I did before. To focus more on the long goal rather than the short term-the ability to delay gratification and seek comfort and stability.

New Standard of Living

One of the biggest adjustments I hear about from new olim, which I’m sure happens to immigrants from all over, is adjusting to a new standard of living. For people who are rich I think this adjustment is relatively easy…I mean duh! But when money is tight that’s a different story.

Since I’ve always worked with kids I’m used to not getting paid a decent wage. In grad school I had three jobs because the pay was so crappy and I knew that these jobs were stepping stones. Jobs that would introduce me to the ins and out’s of the mental health system so that I could be employable once I graduated. The ironic thing is that I started started graduate school just when the market was crashing and by the time I was looking for job (after graduation) the market had not fully rebounded. I spent the year unemployed.

Over the past 3 years I have worked and got a decent amount of money as compensation. The first year I was worried about money so I spent very little. I did save but not a lot, I wasn’t good at it. The point is I had a decent salary and was able to accumulate things that I both needed and wanted. As I embrace on my aliyah journey, I cant help but be slapped with the irony that I am starting all over.

I am going to be immigrating into Israeli society. I do not know the cultural norms or how the system works. This will all take time. As I look for jobs I notice that the pay is not listed. This is common across Israel with regards to all aspects of the economy. What do I mean? If I want to go furniture shopping not at ikea I can search online for furniture stores and I’ll find some. They show off their beautiful furniture and you look at it going “nice” “nice”. But you know what’s missing? the price of said item. I’ve realized that this is how competition is controlled. The only way for you to know how much something costs is to physically go down to the store. I’ve even heard people calling up the store and asking about a price only to be told that they don’t tell prices over the phone. Well things become more intimate when you walk into a store and begin th search. 

So this has me thinking about adjusting to the new standard of living. People make a lot less here, unless course you are in hi-tech then you can make some money. If I want to continue working with children, which I do, I’m looking at making about 6-7,000 shekel (roughly $2,000) a month. The good thing about this is that usually working at a school I’m only working in the morning, until about 2 or maybe 3. This gives me time to work a second part time job (yay). So this will be how I will introduce my private practice. If I can find a job that pays in the above range and then have my practice maybe 10 hours a week then I’m feeling pretty good. My ultimate goal within the next couple years is to have a full time private practice. It’s a game of patience. Again something else I’m constantly working on. 

I am expecting that I will need to be working at two different locations, and I’ve also decided that I’m not going to be accepting insurance here in Israel but I will do a sliding scale fee. 

So one of the reasons for compiling this blog is that I want to see if I can make the same amount of money every month that I made in the states. Even if I’m mixing between two jobs thats ok as long as the take home is what I want/need/deserve. 

Full time gan reacher/assistant: 8-2/3=6-7 hours/week=7,000 shekels

Part time Therapist: 10-15 hours/week=5,000 shekels 

I want my take home pay with all my jobs to be 14,000 shekel/month 

What keeps going through my mind is that I have a masters degree. I have worked hard and did my sacrificing in my early 20’s to finally be stable and make a decent pay. As I wrote before I really think this is a huge reason why we Americans struggle with making aliyah and why some eventually return home. I don’t want finances to be the reason that I don’t stay. I’m flying back to my home in the states and I’m missing Israel. It’s so surprising to me that this soon I’d be missing my home…the home to which I don’t have a job or an apartment.

So one of the things I’ve been thinking about is how to educate new Olim about Israeli society, particularly with regards to career. As this trip has taught me, and to which no online research was able to teach me, is that Psychotherapy/Counseling is not regulated. Anyone can call themselves a therapist and it’s not something the Ministry of education is cracking down on. You can’t call yourself a Social Worker or Psychologist thought because those are regulated and you need to go through the necessary steps to get your degree recognized by the Ministry of Education. 

More important in my area of specialization/field, child trauma therapy there is a whole procedure around disclosures and prosecution of child abusers/pedophiles. In the states and specifically in California I know how the government and prosecutions work. I know how social services work and the numbers to call when I suspect abuse. I don’t know if there is a website in English for therapists to navigate this. 

So I think that my practice in Israel will be to support English speakers, primarily Americans as they navigate the challenges of their aliyah. I will of course continue to work with child abuse and I think it’s important for me to continue networking and making sure that people refer to me. Also I do wonder about a space for African-Americans who have made aliyah and wanting counseling services. Again I think this is a niche I can sow up quickly.  So here is how I will brand myself:

  1. Child Trauma Therapist for English speakers-Has your child been abused? Are you an adult who has experienced abuse in your childhood and your finding that it’s rearing it’s head and sabotaging your relationships? Your looking to connect with a therapist who speaks your language and understands your Anglo culture?
  2. African-American Therapist here to help you with your managing aspects of this new culture. How to find yourself and achieve the fulfillment you desire when making aliyah? Maybe you just want to work with someone who understands the dynamics of being an African-American jew in Israel.
  3. Adjusting to a new culture can be very hard…we struggle all the time in our interactions in Israel but how nice would it be to not struggle? To work with a therapist who speaks your language, who has made aliyah too and understands the ins and outs of not knowing what’s going on and feeling overwhelmed (wanting to give up) but also wanting to be successful? 

So I will work with children, teens and adults. 

Day 9: Last Day

Today I was so hopeful. I was to see two apartments and have a meeting about a job at a mental health clinic in Jerusalem. Well it took forever for the bus to get from Tel aviv to Jerusalem, reinforcing the idea that I am not going to be commuting between the two for work. It’s crazy.
So the first apartment I saw in Rehavia was really cute and reminded me of my place in Berkeley. It was a stand alone cottage with it’s own backyard and locked gate. It was pretty big but the only probably was the damn bars on the windows. I really hate the bars on the window. Also weirdly enough it made me feel isolated and all alone. I don’t know why but that little place made me feel lonely.
The second place was in the German colony, which is one of my favorite places. It was not he first floor (not the ground floor but up a flight of stairs). Everything was new but it was a studio with an enclosed balcony. The windows were small as well. Therefore screens on the windows which I liked and no bars.
But neither places called me. I looked at two others in Nachlaot but they were definitely not me and not worth talking about.
As for the meeting at the clinic, it was in the heart of an Orthodox neighborhood. When I arrived it ws in this make shift apartment and pretty nice. The problem is that they were not really hiring for staff but there was an option to sublet. Part of the issues continues to be that I do not speak Hebrew.
I lef feeling completely defeated. I mean I knew that it would be hard to get a job as a therapist here in Israel without any Hebrew which is why I never really explored it. But there were all these people who we telling me about these clinics with English speakers and it rose my hopes. As I walked back to the bus I just felt like I couldn’t do this after all. I miss know what’s going on. I missed my degree having some type of value and weight. How can I enjoy Israel and create a life when I’m not ding what I love, which is therapy.
As I rode back to Tel Aviv I was on the verge of tears feeling like a huge failure. I did not get an apartment nor did I get job on this trip. More importantly I felt like there was nothing out there for a therapist.
As I sat with my feelings it dawned on me. This is why people don’t make aliyah and why we Americans will leave after some time. There is no support for us. Israel is very different from Israel in so man ways but I think there is this morning of our old lives that happens. We work so hard in college to get a degree and make a career. We slowly climb the career ladder and we find some stability. In the states we are multi dynamic…complex people. In Israel I was finding myself feeling one dimensional. During this trip I felt like I was forced into this binary option.I was not my complex self. Also because I was so focused on the two areas, finding job and finding an apartment, that my creativity left me. As I pulled into Tel Aviv I was just writing and writing. Coming up with ideas with how to help anglos here in Israel as well as to take the weight off my living arrangements by asking if I could stay someone for free until I find a job. My flight leaves in a couple hours and I no longer feel hopeless and like I can’t do this. Now it’s time to get to work.

Day 8

I went for a walk around Jerusalem this morning and I got to see the Talpiyot and Arnona neighborhoods. I really liked Talpiyot it reminded me of my childhood in the UC Berkeley Village. The apartments wont little parks and people with their children all around. I saw an apartment there that I really wanted but when I contacted the number listed the realtor said it was a 3 bedroom and had tow balconies. As nice as that would be it would definitely be too big. The cool thing was that he had a one bedroom in Rehavia available so I scheduled a time to see it tomorrow.
When I got on fb to continue to apartment hunt I received a message form someone I messaged about room mating with a while back. Well her message was short and curt and for some reason it ticked me off. I’ve had a couple people I reached out too for room mating because they had dogs and they were also looking. Then when I reach out they act funny. They say they found someone else (yet post again like 2 hours later that they are looking) or they say they don’t want to live with a dog, yet they have a dog. So it’s a good thing I decided not to go the roommate route because if it’s this annoying to find a roommate then it probably would not be good. Besides I like living alone.
I took the busied up to Beit Shemesh today to meet with two therapists who are here in Israel. On my way I was surrounded by Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox jews. Men in black suits and women with wigs and head scarves. It’s great that these people have found a home in Israel, thats really what having a Jewish state is a ll about. Any way up the mountain to Beit Shemesh was very pretty. It reminded me of parts of California outside the major cities. It was very clean nd cute. Very family oriented and filled with Anglos.
In meeting with the two different therapists in Beit Shemesh I learned a lot about the Israeli criminal justice with regards to perpetrators of child sexual abuse. As i talked I thought about how much I missed working with children and childhood trauma. How I missed talking with colleagues about their cases and different family dynamics. It’s been so long and yet it all came back to me. This meeting really reinforced my desire to work as a therapist here in Israel.
So tomorrow I have a meeting with the coordinator at a clinic here in Israel. I didn’t really think much of it when it was first arranged but now I’m ready to kill it. I’m ready to put my therapy skills to work here in Israel. The one thing that concerns me is the pay. I know how much I need to live on here in Israel and I’m a little afraid that the pay will not be enough. I have it in my mind to ask about salary and then see what would happen if I asked/demanded for more.

Day 7

Typically on shabbat I take a day from social media and electronics (except music). I woke up early in Jerusalem and I felt restless. I did my morning prayers as I didn’t research any synagogues to go to today. Besides I’m so warn out from introducing myself to people that I wasn’t in the mood.
So I took a walk. I am still on the hunt for an apartment. I was proud of myself as I walked thinking I knew where I was. I initially thought that I would forgo the gps but I used it to get back and yet I still ended up walking farther than I intended. As I walked I continued to think about how much I miss home and how easy it would be to stay. I mean I like driving places and well getting a job would be no problem. Making aliyah is truly hard.
But as I continued to walk I keep envisioning my future children walking down the street speaking Hebrew on our way to our synagogue or walking them to their gan. That’s what keeps me going. I realized that it really is important for me to bring as much of my stuff from home as possible. I didn’t want to spend the money on a lift but I see how practical this will be. Having that sense of comfort will make things easier.
Another thought I had was that in Israel the wages are a lot lower. I do wonder if this is so because people do not demand more or if it has to do with a language barrier (or of course a combination of both). Why is it that people with masters degrees make so little money here? Why do teachers only make about $2,500 a month here? As a therapist how much can I make? What would happen if I asked/demanded that I make a livable wage as a therapist here?