Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Secrets of the Aliyah Center Revealed

I’ve been working my way through the pile of forms in my Tik Aliyah. Actually I think I’m pretty much done with them – just have to sign and date them now. So all I need besides those is a letter from my Rabbi and copies of my passport from all the times I’ve been in Israel over the past seven years. Seven years! But my passport only goes back till 2000! I’ll just have to tell my shliach that it will have to do. Besides I’ve been there six times since 2000 so it’s not like they won’t have what to look at.

By what to look at I suspect they use my passport information to do background checks. "Seven years" is actually a pretty standard time period for that sort of thing. I even think there is a legal basis for retaining records for seven years but not any longer. But somehow I get the feeling they are not doing the traditional background check. In any case it does shed some light on what happened to JTA’s Jonathan Udren shortly after he made Aliyah. In his own words:

Only a week after making aliyah, my first piece of Hebrew mail arrived.

What an amazing feeling to see "Yonatan Chaim Udren" spelled out in Hebrew letters on that envelope. I ripped it open and glanced it over, only to realize that I had no idea what the document meant. There were numbers at the bottom, and a box next to it that I translated as, "You receive 400 shekel."

I thought: "I´ve only been here a week and already I´m being awarded some kind of extra aliyah bonus."

Then I looked at the letter again and realized there was another column with a date 90 days hence and a 625-shekel figure in the adjacent box.

Was this some kind of savings bond? Why would waiting 90 more days allow me to receive more money?

When I saw the Hebrew word "knas" it dawned on me: It was a bill.

Or, more accurately, a fine.

The nicely detailed caricature of a smiling policeman writing out a parking ticket on the back of the letter made the situation a little clearer.

The funny thing is that I don´t even have a car.

The fine was dated all the way back to last December, and after a moment I realized its source.

A few friends and I had rented a car during Chanukah for some hiking in the Negev Desert. While I was finishing the paperwork, the attendant parked the rental vehicle in an illegal space. When I walked out to the car, a policeman was huddled over the license plate. A moment later, he slapped a ticket on the windshield.

"Oh, don´t worry, we´ll take care of that," said the attendant as she snatched the ticket from my hand, tossing in into what I thought was the trash can.

I shrugged it off and headed for the desert. Even if the rental company didn´t take care of the ticket, I thought, how would the parking police ever find me?

Less than a week after I made aliyah, that ticket landed in my mailbox. I´m still trying to figure out the whole thing, but I´m hoping — perhaps a little naively — that all Israeli bureaucracy works as efficiently as the parking-ticket authorities.

Yep. So now you know. That's really why they do the background checks!


Blogger Pamello said...

:-) So if some people I know would move to the USA all the "You are not welcome to drive in the United States of America" fines/letters will come into effect ...



4:05 PM  
Blogger TR said...

Ah, the innocence of an Oleh Chadash...

5:38 PM  

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