Beth G. Kopin
Inches to Metric: Zionism Through Design

Inches to Metric: To be or not to be (an Israeli American), that is the question #6

Temporary display in the heart of downtown Jerusalem. Photo courtesy Beth Kopin

This is the final piece of my series on becoming an Israeli American. If you’d like to read more of the series see my TOI header and click My Blog.

This series deconstructed the process of becoming an Israeli citizen, (hoping to demystify Aliyah), and setting up life as a citizen… TZ (Teudat Zehut, identity number), Israeli bank, eye exam/drivers license, phones, check… Now health care plan, phones again, last but not least passports and passports again!

Health Insurance Plan

We questioned the need to sign up for a health plan, we are still working, have great health coverage in the US and are now Medicare qualified, uh…But a friend who made Aliyah ten years prior turned it down, thinking he’d apply when needed. He is a lawyer has tried many avenues, and is now denied coverage. You have a window when you can register for all required services.

We made an appointment at a local health clinic to set up our plan. It began to rain, the computers went down as we walked in. They had no idea when it would come back up. Could it be possible in this high tech nation computers go down when it rains? We drove across town to a clinic where we found another time slot this time we were ok, the rain stopped. That went rather smoothly. We signed up for Maccabi Plus.


Since buying our home and coming to Israel on a regular basis we resorted to using Travel Pass with Verizon, for ten dollars a day in many places in the world you can use your regular Sim card. It was never a perfect system. It was expensive. We tried call forwarding with a US number to our Israeli number, we rarely got text messages, had dropped calls. To this date we prefer using Whatts App for phone calls on wi-fi. We live in a valley in Jerusalem and even with fiber in our home our calls are never perfect.

This past year we carried two phones, our US phone and the one we purchased so we could use our new Israeli Sim for making appointments while in Israel. The Israeli phone does not work in the US with an Israeli Sim. Paying bills in Israel on line from the US is complicated, you need a cell phone with an Israeli number to get a code for security reasons from the bank, before money can transfer. We needed to fax an authorization in the past, or had auto pay set for bills regarding our property, phone lines, security etc.!

Phones Again!

We finally figured out how to effectively communicate! We discovered, the iphone with multiple e-sim cards (up to five lines, two is enough for me). We bought ourselves the new iphone 15. We also set up with Golan Telecom which has e-Sim. It was quite a shennanigan, getting both e-Sims (US and Israeli ) working on our phone. We needed help from a fluent Hebrew speaking friend “to go Israeli” on Golan to get it working. It installed quickly but did not activate right away.


Dual passports. Photo courtesy Beth Kopin.

Most important item, our Israeli passport! Being a classified document, we were told we would receive our passports hand delivered. We arranged for our house manager to wait at the appointed day/time, the delivery guy left it in our mailbox. The next time we came to Israel it was waiting for us on our dining table. New Olim (citizens) are able to come and go the first year on a US passport. Because of the war that window of time has been lengthened.

Passport again?

Another detour/piece of the puzzle…Israeli law says the first passport is valid for a year, then you need to refresh. Why? Seems like they move the goal post…another layer of bureaucratic nonsense.

We have been Israeli for more than a year now. Hard to believe! We had an appointment to refresh our passport within the first year, the war broke out and our flights were cancelled. I asked our NBN (Nefesh B’Nefesh) advisor  to look for a time slot during the first week of May, we wanted to be in Israel for Yom Hazikaron/Yom Ha Atzmaut (Memorial day/Independence day). We planned our most recent trip around that date.

Sadly there was a big red x at the biometric scanner when we tried to enter Israel on our newly acquired/expired passport. We needed to use our US passport then went to speak with a dude at the customs desk, he gave us a tourist visa…Our status was altered.

We went to the passport office in downtown Jerusalem, the process for renewal was quick and easy. We got our passport corners clipped, again I was sad. We were told our refreshed passport would be ready in a few weeks.

Clipped corners on Israeli passport.
Photo courtesy Beth Kopin

We asked our house manager Assaf Cholow from Welcome Home Realty        if he could help us. He not only sold us our apartment, but as an additional service manages clients homes as well. He is truly full service and a gem. He picked up our refreshed passports and is holding them for us. I’m assuming they will be waiting for us on our dining table.

If you are in Israel less than six months a year they change your passport to red (yikes). I’m not sure but Israel may be the only country which gives you “less than” status if you are not living there full time. I like to say it’s better to have something…Growing up with “you are either all in or you can’t do it“, made it impossible for many in the US to even consider Aliyah. I’m hoping this changes.

Updated red passport for Israeli citizens spending less than six months a year in Israel.

We accomplished much each trip, but setting up life in Israel as I would expect in any foreign country requires patience, a sense of humor and many days to accomplish. That is ok, we are Israeli and that is what matters.

The featured photo at the top of the article sits on the coffee table in our den in Highland Park, Il. It makes me smile, reminding me that my heart is in Jerusalem. Well readers this is a wrap, if you have questions please reach out, become part of our magnificent story…”We are the Jewish People”.


About the Author
Beth Kopin is a trained interior architectural designer from the US. She has experience in the design/construction world that spans thirty years, and works and lives in both Chicago and Arnona, Jerusalem. She commutes regularly between the two cities. She brings her work ethic, training and US standards to Israel. Beth has surrounded herself with extremely talented trades. Her design team developed a way to CAD (computer aided design) plans in both US and metric standards. This enables both the US born clients (some of which live in Israel, some as second homes), and Israeli trades to better understand the plans, ensuring a more fluid communication. She is able to help bridge the gap of cultural differences, manage expectations, relate often confusing metric standards, as well as all the basic elements of designing a beautiful and functional home.,
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