I made Aliya from Wisconsin in July of 2014 and I can tell you, it wasn’t your average Aliya. I remember it like it was yesterday. The second I disembarked from the plane, directly onto the tarmac, the sun hit me like hot oil. I began the sweating and didn’t stop for about a year and a half.

I entered the old terminal and I felt incredibly lost. It took me about two hours to find the Misrad Haklita in order to get my identification papers and a taxi voucher. After finally exiting the airport, I jumped in a taxi and asked him to take me to my Kibbutz Ulpan program that was about 25 minutes away. We took off and in no time arrived at the Kibbutz. He didn’t enter the Kibbutz and being naive, I didn’t think twice about it. I got out of the cab and while stretching the cab took off down the road leaving me there with just my backpack. I had lost all my luggage within the first hour of being an Israeli. That definitely taught me a valuable lesson, always look into a service before committing. Had I payed attention, I would have known only to use airport sanctioned transportation. Everything turned out okay in the end, I’m still here and have of plans on going anywhere.

Here are some essentials that can help make your first year in Israel great.

  • Isracard or Diners
  • Credit cards in Israel are very different than in the States. That being said, Isracard, Leumi Card and Diners offer some great deals on entertainment. Like 2 for 1 movies, coupons for Ikea, and many more.

    https://digital.isracard.co.il/

    https://www.leumi-card.co.il/

    https://www.cal-online.co.il/he-il/Cal/Cards/diners/Pages/welcome.aspx

    1. Meuhedet Adif, Maccabi Sheli, Klalit Mushlam

    Healthcare in Israel can be difficult to navigate. There are some organisations out there that can help you, but I have just one piece of advice: Sign up for the most expensive health insurance package. It’ll cost you another 50 NIS or so a month, but will more than make up for it. The better plans offer wider services, lower co-payments, easier scheduling, and more.

    http://www.maccabi4u.co.il/14-he/Maccabi.aspx

    http://lang.meuhedet.co.il/en/insurance-programs/meuhedet-adif-rates-and-terms.aspx

    https://mushlam.clalit.co.il/Pages/homepage.aspx

    1. Golan or HOT Telecom

    While for many years cellular service was cheaper than in the US, Israel now has some of the most affordable networks in the world. Instead of paying $95+ a month, unlimited plans start at $20!

    https://www.golantelecom.co.il/web/packages.php

    https://www.hotmobile.co.il/pages/default.aspx

    1. Janglo

    If you need advise on pretty much any subject, or if your looking for a job, Janglo is a great resource. It offers a broad range of information on housing, jobs, events, sale items, restaurants and more.

    http://www.janglo.net/

    1. MatchboxAir

    Israeli TV and Cable leave a lot to be desired. If you are an avid Netflix, Hulu, MLB, NFL, NBA watcher, MatchboxAir lets you watch all that geo-restricted content. It’s a VPN router that you can easily connect unlimited devices to. The company is owned and operated by Anglos and they offer free shipping and great customer service.

    www.matchboxair.com

    1. Peles Home Inspection

    Finding an apartment or house in Israel can be challenging. Homes are built very differently here than in the US or UK. That’s why I’ve always recommended people use a home inspector before buying or renting. Water damage is very common throughout the country, you don’t want it to rain in your living room on a stormy winter night.

    http://www.peles-group.com/en

    1. Ulpan Aviv

    Learning Hebrew can be the most difficult part of Aliya. So, one of the most important factors in a successful Aliya is learning the language. There are many Ulpans available through the Misrad Haklita, but they are usually over crowded and take place at inconvenient times of the day. That’s why the ease of online one-on-one classes is so great.

    http://www.ulpanaviv.com/

    1. EasyWed

    Getting married or having an event in Israel? Dealing with halls, caterers, photographers, bands, and decorators can be daunting. Getting everything together for the perfect night can take days of work dealing with multiple vendors. EasyWed is a one stop shop for your event. They work with thousands of vendors and help you with the planning, dealing with suppliers, and managing of the event.

    http://www.easywed.eu/

    1. ZAP.co.il

    Ebay and Amazon are expensive to ship to Israel, but most people don’t realise that Israel has something very similar. ZAP is great for two things: Buying online, and checking prices. When you go to a store it’s really hard to tell if you’re getting the best price. Logon to ZAP and lookup prices from multiple sources.

    http://www.zap.co.il/