Since I started blogging in the Times of Israel about life in Israel I get letters from readers all over and outside of Israel. They often ask questions about practical issues – what are the average salaries in Israel, where is best to live, where to look for an apartment, is it challenging to pass the interview for a visa at the ministry, etc. Its really important to be proactive and get as much information as possible, especially if you’re thinking of moving here. The better prepared you come, the fewer disappointments you will have, and higher chances you will have an easier time adjusting to life in Israel.
Even though there are a handful of institutions out there that assist new arrivals in Israel, there are always questions left unanswered. Those little nuances and insights you can get by talking to people. It can save you hours trying to get answers in governmental offices. So where do you find these authentic people with real-life stories and experiences? On Facebook groups!
Here’s a list of the top 5 Facebook groups, where you will find answers to almost every question you might have about living Israel.
1. Financial issues
No money, no honey. Navigating financial issues in Israel is more than just learning to convert your currency into New Israeli Shekels. It is all about clever hacks and the collective experience accumulated by mistakes and losses of the different waves of immigrants that came to this country. It takes research and time to adjust your thinking to the local Israeli economic realities. For example, what is the average budget for a family of 5 people with school children? What is to pay smart for a second-hand car? Why it is a good idea to come with your own house electronics etc.
All of these things are addressed in a group – Living Financially smarter in Israel.
Description: “The purpose of this group is to facilitate the sharing of financially related ideas, and to provide a low key platform where people can ask financial questions, and receive answers based on the collective experience of the lay and professional members.”
2. Information on the social groups, infrastructure, schools, apartments etc. in the city/town of interest
There are groups that start with a code “secret” – Secret Tel Aviv, Secret Haifa, Secret Jerusalem, etc. All of these groups unite people and collect information according to cities. Residents of a city can ask neighbors for insights and help in getting around local places.
Want to know what is life like in Jerusalem? Join Secret Jerusalem.
Description: “We are a welcoming, diverse community of Jerusalemites helping each other out. A few rules to be aware of: Be nice. We’re a community. Politics belongs on your personal FB page, not in this group. Sublet and roommate wanted are OK.”
Does Tel Aviv sound more exciting? Check what locals say about it in Secret Tel Aviv.
Description: “This page is just as useful as not-useful. At the same time, it’s hilarious, entertaining and sometimes even informative. It’s a big wonderful mish-mash. Perfect!”
Description: “Secret Haifa Group offers places to mingle, schmooze, look for apartments, ask questions, get recommendations and help around Haifa and area.”
“Haifisha is a website for regular updates about upcoming public events and community life for English speakers in Haifa.”
Or maybe you want to try your luck in the city closer to Tel Aviv? Then you are invited to Secret Herzliya.
Description: “It is a space for all Herzliyans to share their experiences and questions, meet new people, and learn about some of the Secrets of this awesome city. We particularly love postings about cool events, great deals, and good job opportunities – so please don’t be shy!”
3. Job search, salaries, and career ideas
Facebook groups can help you at early stages of job hunting, however, be aware that with a good Linkedin account you will have higher chances to get decent placements.
Start your search from here – Jobs for multilinguals in Israel.
Description: “Are you a multilingual, or a new immigrant with a work permit in Israel but without a good enough Hebrew? This is a place for you”.
Pass to another similar group – Jobs for Olim in Israel.
Description: “Feel free to place any job offers you might have heard of or if you are looking for a job. Feel free to add friends who would like to add posts for jobs or that are looking for jobs. Good luck to all!”
No luck in the above groups? Check out one of my favorites, – ImaKadima: Working & Career-Minded Moms in Israel.
Description: “We are blessed to see this group grow to over 11 thousand users, and every day we hear of group members who have pushed themselves further, advocated for better conditions or recognized their own achievements thanks to ImaKadima.”
4. Visa issues and other legal matters for non-Jewish immigrants
I know, it can be challenging and unfair to feel denied of any institutional help if you are not ola hadasha – returning Jew or a relative of Jew. Remember – people help people. When institutions fail to help you, then you can turn to – Helping Non-Jewish survive life in the Holy Land! This group is designed for people, who come to live in Israel as immigrants, partners, wives, expats or tourists. The group members address issues of visa, legal status and many other problems that can be understood only by not Jewish immigrants.
Description: “The purpose of the group is to be a place for people to ask for help or advice on life in Israel specifically for non-Jewish. Everyone is welcome but please let’s keep thing positive, this is a tool to help and understand each other not attack or judge.”
5. About life in general
At some stage of the new life in Israel, we all ask others and ourselves, mainly, more dramatic question – to stay or not to stay? Then, as your last chance to get some insights, turn to the members of Keep Olim in Israel Movement. Even though the group is positioned as olims, the members extend helping hand beyond the national restrictions.
Description: “KeepOlim is a post-Aliyah non-profit for all olim that provides vital programs, services and advocacy. The purpose of KeepOlim is to empower, inspire, and support Olim through a series of programs, services and advocacy to help them integrate, find jobs, and keep Olim in Israel.”
These are the main social media groups that I used and still use to make my life in Israel a good experience. Most of these groups are built around or started by non-profit organizations or proactive public activists, who are doing diverse activities to help each other as immigrants, olim hadashim and Israelis, after all. By doing this review, I would like to pay back to all the beautiful human beings I met in the described groups, who shared their knowledge, experience, and hope for me. If you want to share more groups that will help other freshers in Israel, please, list them in comments.
Thank you and Shana tova!