Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Floor Aliyah...Going Up!

So I had a meeting with Nefesh B'Nefesh. And, well. It went well. So, aliyah is now more of a possibility than ever before. In fact, I probably am only pushing off the inevitable.
In fact, when I asked the NBN counselor why I shouldn't make aliyah, as to what the downside is- she responded: "There is no downside."

Aliyah comes with many benefits- free schooling, a grant just for living here, rent subsidies, no arnona payments for a year, and of course, the chance to never have to update my visas ever again.
Downside: Wait, I just said, there is no downside.

They don't even make you pay taxes on American income for the first ten years of living here. So, until I get all my finances sorted out in the US, I don't have to worry about taxes here.

So why do I feel so nervous?

I spoke with one of my former neighbors, who has lived here her entire married life (the one with seven kids who's oldest son was just bar mitzvah, and oldest daughter is in high school) and hasn't made aliyah. When I asked her why, she told me that her relatives back in America don't want her to, and since she gets help from them, she listens. But she wishes she could.

When I asked her if I should, her response was positive. She informed me that for some religious schools, if their girls want to get into a job track after high school, they have to make aliyah anyway. And, the longer I wait to make aliyah, the more benefits I lose out on.

For example, the 'sal klita'- 'absorbtion basket' of money that new olim get can only be given if the oleh hasn't spent more than 18 months in Israel in the last 3 years. As soon as they have done that- that whole grant disappears. The free schooling also has an age limit.

So why don't more people make aliyah? Why do we have so many American families, living here for so many years, without any one of them making aliyah?

I guess I can't speak for them. But it looks like I'll be joining the ranks of those 'going up' sometime soon.


Anonymous said...

It should be with mazel - after all its the natural next step if you are planning to live in The Land.
Besurot tovot

itsagift said...

What about when you have a boy - won't you worry about him having to be drafted into the army?
Also, making an aliya is making a certain statement. You are saying: I am staying here (which is a great thing) and not planning to move anywhere else. I want to raise my children here...some people do not want their children in the Israeli school system so they stay for about 5 years and then move back as soon as their youngest child is ready for school.
It is also hard for children to grow up with American parents for different reasons but with parents like you, iy"h all your children will do great!!!
Hatzlacha with the rest of the process!!

Frayda said...

My comment was going to be the army comment but itsagift already mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

i can say to you leave Israel as soon is better and all the people that migrated to this country . i know first hand . i left 27 years ago wanted to go back . found that tax is high very high . they government is corrupt .
they steal you underwear legally . they stole our land . never buy real estate in israel .
pall you think to go their don't go remember me.
the israeli are crock not all but the basic thinking of most how they can steal from you. and the government how the can robbed you . and they do legally
greenfeld meir say the truth about the crock in Israel

nmf #7 said...

Anon613- Yeah, it's the natural step. Although there are many who don't, for various reasons.

Itsagift- That was my only hesitation. But I've got 18 years and 9 months (at least) to worry about that! But still- it's a valid concern, one which I would ask a rabbi about.

It's not that you're never planning to move anywhere else- plenty of Israeli's pack up and do 'yerida' if they need to. But, yeah, I do want to stay here and raise my children here. But many who don't make aliya also want their children to be raised here. Go figure.

I know a few of those couples- they start their life here, and then head back. It's rather nice in a way- they do get to experience some of E"Y life.

Thanks for your good wishes!

Anon- Not such a nice comment. Please don't leave those on my blog. Thank you.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Hi NMF#7:

Aliyah doesn't have to be about making a statement, and its not nearly as "final" as some may paint it as. Yes, there are responsibilities that come with citizenship, but as things go, there are much worse alternatives.

Additionally, army service is a privilege. For 2000 years Jews were persecuted and had no army -- we had pogroms, inquisitions, holocausts, and crusades. The fact that we can fight to defend ourselves instead of being killed like sheep going to slaughter is a tremendous privilege -- and 2000 years of Jewish history looks at us with pride and respect.

Ask any Holocaust survivor if 60+ years ago, they could have imagined a Jewish, Israeli soldier -- an army of Jews in a Jewish State. (And the level of religious observance of the State is irrelevant -- as any Holocaust survivor will tell you. The fact that Jews can defend themselves is a huge Kiddush Hashem, and we need to have hakarat hatov for such an opportunity).

As an FYI -- the responsibilities of remaining an American citizen outside of the US is growing greater by the day. In addition to having to file IRS income tax reports, the FBAR reports to the US Treasury are now mandatory -- opening up the possibility of IRS audits.

nmf #7 said...

Jameel- Yay! I was hoping some native Israeli would comment- and I could get their viewpoint.
Don't get me wrong about the army thing- if I was a guy, I think I would be proud to serve. It is an honor and a privilege to help this wonderful Jewish state that does so much for all of us.
I have relatives who do serve. I just think that maybe it should be a choice, not an obligation forced on all.

For example- what is the army's position on a guy who has ADD? Would he still serve?

And the tax stuff is totally not my field of expertise. Do you know any good accountants here who could give me the lowdown in understandable clear English?

Any downsides I should know about- from your perspective?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

nmf7: Native Israeli?! I grew up in the NYC area!

Regarding IDF services for boys with ADD -- the IDF has all sorts of options available, to suit many different types of learning disabilities. The army is not just field combat as well - there are many, many units that do all sorts of things; communications, computers, networking, intelligence, Public Relations, logistics, food services, drivers, etc.

I can explain the accounting stuff in plain English if you wish (I'm not an accountant)

Basically - if you decide that this is where you want to live, then there is no real downside.

We take the bad with the good, as a package deal :-)

The only important thing is that from a male teenager perspective -- if he doesnt want to go to the army, then it makes life more challenging in terms of what to do.

Learning in yeshiva as a means of IDF exemption is one option, but it limits future educational plans.

The accounting stuff is as follows: Any US citizen who has more than 10,000 dollars total in accounts outside the US, must annually report it. Once someone lives in Israel, savings eventually accumulate, and this amount needs to be annually reported -- if you buy a house, car, etc, and at any point you have more than $10K in an account, it needs to be reported.

Failure to do so can result in a criminal prosecution by the US Treasury under the Patriot Act, a 10,000 fine, and a percentage of the money you didnt report can be taken by the court.

Its very draconian to say the least...because its all about "reporting" not about paying taxes on it (if you pay taxes in Israel, then you're pretty much exempt from taxes in the US). In fact, you may even by eligible for a tax credit of up to $1000 per child.

Contact me by email for the name of an excellent accountant that specializes in this field.

Anyway - the advantages far outweigh the negatives -- being a citizen here means health care, social security, and in general -- life is easier in terms of bureaucracy.