Yoni Spigelman
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Aliyah Diary: Part 8

Only In Israel

So, can you believe that we have been in Israel for five days now?! Let me tell you, during this first week, we got an awesome view of Israeli bureaucracy firsthand! The day we arrived, we scheduled for Tali and me to get our blood drawn and receive a serological test for COVID antibodies. When we arrived at the testing site, we were asked for our “ID number.” We being silly Americans who had never done this before, weren’t sure if they wanted our passport number or our Mispar Zehut (Israeli Identification number). The tester apparently wasn’t sure either, so he told us to just give him the Mispar Zehut… WRONG ANSWER!! Sooooo our quarantine was extended by a few days… Finally, after many phone calls, emails, and then even more phone calls, we were finally let out of quarantine today!! FREEEEEEEEEEDOM!!!!!

 Tali and I decided to make sure that for our first day of freedom, we should run some important errands. So I Davened quickly, and we headed out the door with my mother-in-law. Our first (and ended up being the only) stop for the day was to the Mizrachi Bank in Ra’anana, about a 20-minute drive from our home. It was my first time driving in Israel on this trip. Driving in this country is wild, man, I even had a truck behind me honking like crazy because I didn’t want to merge into oncoming traffic!! It was so much fun!!

After arriving at the bank, we weren’t sure where to go. We grabbed a number, like at your favorite Kosher deli, and asked the security guard in our broken Hebrew if he could tell us where to go to open a new bank account… Well… He did not know… While I was still talking to the guard… (I mean, I was trying to talk… I did a lot of hand motiony thingies, though… I promise! My Hebrew WILL get better!!) Tali decided to ask one of the tellers how we should go about opening our first Israeli bank account and what steps we needed to take.

And there is where our first “only in Israel” story begins. Tali walked over to the teller, a tall religious-looking man, and asked him if he spoke English. I wasn’t standing with her yet, but she asked him about opening an account. He answered that we really needed an appointment and that he would not be able to open an account for us today… That was when I walked up. The tall religious-looking man looked up at me and told us that he could help us do some initial paperwork but that we would need to come back later, with an appointment, to open the account.

I could not place it… But for some reason, I KNEW that I knew this tall religious-looking bank teller from somewhere… After talking for about a minute, he asked if we had made Aliyah. We told him that we just made Aliyah last week and that this was the first day we were out of Bidud (quarantine). He kept looking at me and asked we were from. I answered that we were from Baltimore, and his face lit up!!

Tall Religious-Looking Man: “Really?! Baltimore, Maryland?!”
Me: “Yes!”
TRLM: “Really! I was a Shaliach…”
Me: “…for the Torah Mitzion Kollel, and taught in Yeshivat Rambam
of Baltimore!!”
Me: “I KNEW YOU LOOKED FAMILIAR, you taught me at Rambam!!”

For those who did not follow this. At the RANDOM bank that we went to today, this RANDOM teller HAPPENED to be Rav Gilad Fischer, a former teacher of mine in my high school, Yeshivat Rambam of Baltimore!! Mind… Blown… Suffice to say, two hours after “you are going to have to come back with an appointment,” we have an Israeli bank account…

Regardless of whether we were able to actually open our bank account today, I was thankful to be out. Thankful to be able to drive around in this country that we now call home. I really began to feel more at home today. We were treated to many Mazal Tovs and Kol Hakavods for our Aliyah from most of the bank staff members. We were given Brachos for our well-being and success.

Today was a good day. A really good day. I will look back on this day for many years. I know that there will be many challenges living here. But days like today show me that Hashem wants us to be here and that we just need a lot of patience and a lot of Bitachon (faith)…
As they say… ONLY IN ISRAEL!!

Love you all,

About the Author
My family and I made Aliyah in August this past summer. A few weeks before we made Aliyah, I began a small Facebook blog, just to share our experiences, good and bad. I then upgraded to WordPress. In the blog, I share about everyday life as an Oleh Chadash in Israel. I share about our wins and our struggles with adapting to our new life here in the Holy Land.