Today I took ds17 and dd16 to the interview that are part of their aliyah process. (These two children have a different legal status than the others; none of the rest of us have to do this.) Fortunately, the office we had to go to was only an hour away. Unfortunately, when I got there I learned that an important part of our interviews was bringing original copies of the paperwork we had already faxed. (They had sent me an email, but I accidentally deleted it before reading it and didn’t see that I was supposed to bring the originals.)
But in the end it didn’t matter so much, since the paperwork they most needed was proof that these two children haven’t lived in Israel between the ages of 13 and 17. Since their passports expired before 2007 and we just got new passports a month ago, a gap exists that the passports wouldn’t have assisted in clarifying even if I had brought them with me.
I asked what else we could use to document their U.S. residency, and was told ‘school records’. That doesn’t help me much, though! I sent an email to the head of our umbrella program asking for her help in quickly getting a letter to me that states that we’ve been homeschooling in this state for years. This is important for them both, but particularly important for dd16.
Since dd16 attended the Naaleh /Elite Academy program sponsored by the Jewish Agency this year, we’re now being told she will lose all the aliyah benefits she would otherwise be entitled to as a ‘returning minor’. When I first was told this, I was really upset. It contradicted everything I had been led to believe, as well as common sense. Apparently there was a little known technicality in the fine print of the law that someone born in Israel who attends this program before the age of 16 will have the time they are studying there applied to their residency in Israel, and this is what would cause someone to lose all potential benefits to them if they decided to return to Israel at a later age.
In addition to contradicting their own written assertions on every website that discuss the time spent in the Naaleh program not affecting the residency status of a student, it also contradicts the target population - this program is geared to girls ages 14 and 9 months and up, and dd was one of the older girls in her grade – she began 11 weeks before she turned 16. I told the Jewish Agency representative that it made no sense to market a program like this with the hope that teens will be inspired to make Israel their home at a later date and then to yank the rug out from under someone and tell them they lost all the benefits they could have enjoyed as a result of attending this program!
I told the representative how upsetting this was, especially since I’m very unhappy with the program and if it weren’t for the fact that going to visit dd was the first step in the path to making the decision to move our family to Israel, I would strongly regret sending her since it wasn’t at all what we hoped it would be. Had anyone said anything earlier on about this point, I could have made the choice to keep her home, or to send her after her birthday. But no one knew about this technical detail, apparently.
Fortunately, the Jewish Agency is going to file an appeal for dd16 to the higher ministry of something in Israel to try to get an exemption from this, since the shlicha agreed that the situation made no sense and was contrary to the goal of the Jewish Agency. So the piece of paper documenting her schooling is proof of US residency and is critical to the appeal process.
I’m sure that this frustration will end up being a very good thing, and I’m optimistic that dd will be granted an exemption. In a different arena but on a related vein, three days ago we were told that the apartment (condo) that we own in Israel requires $20,000 of plumbing work – immediately. That’s not a soothing thing to hear! When dh told me about it, he said it was obvious this was a good thing and we just had to wait and see how. Two days later we were very grateful to learn that we have insurance that will cover it (since it was caused by poor construction on the part of the builder) and the issue that we’ve continually been paying for here and there will be remedied at the root.
Not only will our plumbing be repaired, but the neighbor above our apartment has also been having plumbing issues that affected our apartment, and we can share with them the information about the insurance coverage. If they go ahead with their repairs, it will benefit us as well as them! Isn’t that wonderful?!
If the repair costs we had been quoted had been anywhere near reasonable, we would have just paid for it (once again!); it was because the costs were so high that dh made more calls and learned about the insurance. So while sometimes things look negative, it helps me to remind myself that Hashem (G-d) does everything with my best interests in mind. Intellectually we all know that everything is for the best – but emotionally stepping into a place of embracing that is a conscious and constant effort for me. Sometimes it is obvious sooner and sometimes later, but just never know how something that looks negative will play out to be in your best interest.
There are a number of things in my life right now that aren’t immediately revealing the inherent positive, but I feel like I have to keep taking steps in the right direction and trusting that the path will open as I go along.