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as featured on betweencarpools.com
Starting off one’s marriage in Israel is something many young adults dream of. The rich Jewish environment and the independence that couples gain while starting off their early years of married life in Israel help form the foundation of their marriage. But there are many steps that a young couple encounters until their life is up and running smoothly.
Setting up your apartment
You may find yourself in a few different scenarios when you sign on your apartment rental. Your apartment may be furnished, unfurnished, or include a furniture package. A furnished apartment is pretty self-explanatory. Your apartment will include basic furniture (beds, often a couch, closets, table and chairs) and large appliances (fridge, oven, washer, dryer).
An unfurnished apartment will come empty. You will need to purchase everything you’ll need but you can sell it on to the next tenants as a furniture package.
What’s a furniture package? That brings us to the third scenario.
A furniture package is a bundle of furniture and appliances sold by the previous tenants for a discounted price. Many times, it will be include more items than just a furnished apartment. Don’t be alarmed if it seems expensive as you will be able to sell it to the next tenant for a discounted rate.
Whichever situation you may find yourself in, you may still need to purchase some small appliances such as a toaster oven, kettle, and crock pot. For such items, Imperiat Hachesed is the place to go, located at 16 Petach Tikva St. Their hours are:
To stock up your empty apartment, the best places are Osher Ad (Rav Shefa Mall on Shamgar Street) and Shaarei Revacha (Brandeis 3 and Yirmiyahu 25). These are large supermarkets that sell products in bulk which makes it great for stocking up. They both sell more than just groceries which makes it the Israeli version of a Target and grocery store combined. The main difference is that the Shaarei Revacha on Yirmiyahu Street offers delivery service (משלוח).
One of the very first things you’ll want to take care of is your visa. The tourist visa (blue slip) you receive at the airport allows you to stay for up to 90 days. After that, you will need a student visa. You can get your student visa at the Misrad Hapnim (Ministry of Interior). To avoid high waiting times, it is recommended to make an appointment. You can do so at https://forms.gov.il/globaldata/getsequence/getHtmlForm.aspx?formType=ZimunTor@piba.gov.il.
Taking care of visas should be a top priority as you will need it to sign up for many services such as a bank account.
The Misrad Hapnim is located at Queen Shlomziyon St 1, Jerusalem. The hours of operation are as follows:
- Sunday: 8 AM – 12 PM
- Monday: 8 AM – 12 PM, 2:30 PM – 5 Pm
- Tuesday: 8 AM – 12 PM
- Wednesday: 1:30 PM – 5 PM
- Thursday: 8 AM – 12 PM
- Friday and Saturday: Closed
As soon as you get here, you’re going to need health insurance. There are many Kupot Cholim (Health Care providers) to choose from. Meuchedet is very popular amongst Americans because of the easy signing up process. To sign up, walk into your local Meuchedet branch with your passport. Most offices will allow you to sign up there. Upon approval, you will receive a temporary card activated immediately, while your permanent card will arrive in the mail within a month. There are different levels of coverage. The decision should be based on your medical needs. Even the most basic level adequately covers most doctors for all stages of life from baby to the elderly.
One important aspect to take into account when choosing your Kupat Cholim is where the nearest clinics are. If your neighborhood only has a Klallit clinic, you may want to go with that provider.
Your parents will probably want to reach you right away, so be sure to have your sim card/cell phone arrangements taken care of. There are many different plans available that cater to your needs. You can choose between a kosher and a not kosher plan, as well as how many minutes you would like. You can either have your sim card shipped to you in America so you have it upon arrival or you can pick it up once in Israel.
If you choose a kosher plan, be aware that it will only work in a kosher phone, which can be purchased at most phone stores in Jerusalem. If you choose a not kosher plan and would like to keep your smart phone from home, make sure it is unlocked and your Israeli sim card should work.
To sign up for a phone plane, click the link: http://tripletel.com/liveyourbil
The main internet service used is Bezeq. You can call them at 039203008 or 199 and they should be able to come to your home for installation within a few days. There are different plans depending on your needs. Be sure to save all information such as your username, password, and landline/Internet number that come with your service as you may need it in the future.
If you will be receiving checks from a yeshiva or an employer, you may need an Israeli bank. In addition, a bank account is necessary to receive certain government allowances from Bituach Leumi (Israel’s national social security agency). Even if none of the reasons above apply to your situation, other reasons to open a bank account include receiving an Israeli check book, an Israeli credit card, or to use a payment plan (תשלומים) for large purchases. Keep in mind that wait times at banks are usually long. Therefore, it is worthwhile to go right when they open.
The most basic banking option is to open an account with Bank Hadoar. The other option is to sign up with one of the more advanced banks such as Mizrahi Tefahot, Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim, Mercantile, and Pagi Bank. The advanced banks have mobile apps which make depositing checks and transferring money more efficient.
Every two months, you will receive your gas, electric, and water bills in the mail. These bills can be paid in the post office, by phone, or online. All these bills can be paid with an American credit card, but some require an Israeli ID number (Mispar Zehut). In some cases, your Meuchedet number will suffice. If not, your friend’s Mispar Zehut will work – the ID number does not need to be connected to the credit card.
These helpful tidbits should help take the stress and worry out of moving and settling in Israel. It truly is a wonderful and enjoyable place to start off marriage and we are here to make sure that these necessary steps don’t get in the way of that.
Welcome to Israel, the Land of Bamba.
Peanut Butter- in Hebrew, חמאת בוטנים ( pronounced- Chemat Botnim)
Below are two of my go-to, most popular, EASY, affordable Peanut butter dessert recipes.
( FYI- both these recipes work great with Almond butter or Techina Paste)
Oh, wait! How can I forget – Healthy! (ier)
Both recipes are #GlutenFree
People are getting more health-conscious, so this recipe is great because it doesn’t just taste good but feels good too.
No post-meal sluggish feeling after serving these at your Shabbos table!
This recipe is ALWAYS a hit; it gets that perfect crunch bursting with flavor.
Recipe #1: Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats
- 3/4 cup natural peanut butter ( green cover for the B&D brand)
- 1/3 cup silan ( Silan is the cheapest natural sweetener in Israel, but you can also use honey or natural maple syrup)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract ( if you use maple syrup, you can skip the vanilla)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3 cups Brown rice crisp cereal ( sold in a big 450-gram bag)
- 1 cup of dark chocolate chips
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl that pat-down in a pan
Melt the chocolate and spread on top
- Optional to sprinkle sea salt on top
Put in freezer for about 2 hours, then remove and break into pieces and put back in the freezer in a ziplock bag or Keep in a pan and take out about 7 min before serving and cut into pieces once softens to serve.
Recipe #2: No Flour, No Sugar, Easy PB Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup natural maple syrup (could sub for any other sweetener)
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp baking soda ( sometimes its called סודה לשתייה- usually comes in little white packets)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, and scoop out the preferred-sized amount of dough on the baking sheet. The cookies grow a little bit, so the space between the cookies can be around 1 inch.
Bake for about 8-10 minutes.
*Important to note the cookies bake more when out of the oven, so take them out even if they don’t seem fully baked.
Hosting is common in Israel, whether it be young couples, seminary girls, or bochurim, most newcomers are thrown into hosting as soon as they arrive. How is a girl supposed to know the ins and outs of hosting? Here are some ideas to keep in mind next time you find yourself the entertainer.
The classic stereotypical bochur will call Thursday night asking to eat over with six friends. Even though this is the typical bochur story, last-minute guests can happen to anyone. If it’s easy for you to do it, great. But remember that it’s OK to say no. Setting boundaries for yourself will make the whole process more enjoyable. In that same vein, some women enjoy entertaining and some do not. If you are part of the latter group, don’t feel pressured to be constantly hosting. Constantly doing something that is hard/stressful/overwhelming for you will just make you resentful.
Everyone and their mother can whip up Shabbos in an hour if really needed but most weeks, that’s really not necessary. Be prepared, invite early, make a menu, and start cooking with time to spare. Organization makes the difference between a stressful Erev Shabbos and a peaceful one.
Cook according to your guests’ preferences
If your guest has allergies, don’t be afraid to ask which foods he can or cannot eat. Be careful of the ingredients that you use. You don’t want to be responsible for a Friday night hospital run. In addition, try to cook to the preferences of your guests. If you remember that your brother in law hates tomatoes, try to avoid them when possible. The little details that you remember and notice will make the world of a difference to your guests.
This is not always the case, but usually, Bochurim will want heavier, heimish foods whereas married couples and seminary girls will appreciate a different, healthier, or interesting twist. Don’t waste your fancy pistachio infused salmon on people who will not appreciate it! The basics for bochurim usually include eggs, liver, cholent, gefilte fish, chicken soup, chicken, or meat. The rest are fillers.
If you are plating an appetizer or other course, ask people what they like. Some people will not touch the entire plate of food if there’s fish on it. Do the courtesy and ask before plating so you can avoid an uncomfortable situation.
No one likes a long, dragging meal. Keep your meal going at a good pace using cues from your guests. When everyone is finished eating and there’s an awkward silence, use that time to clear and serve. Guests can linger after bentching if they really want to, but people are usually tired and want to go home. Be mindful if a guest comes with kids- keep the meal shorter if the kids are misbehaving and tired. The average mealtime should be between 2-3 hours.
Seating is the most important part of a meal. You can make the best foods with the best conversation but if the seating is bad, the meal will be unsuccessful. Try to make people as comfortable as possible: seat husbands and wives together, friends together, avoid putting a man across from a woman and don’t ever have a bochur sit next to a woman, even if it’s the hostess. If you are having more than one couple together, consider sitting at the opposite end of your husband so that the men and women are not sitting interspersed.
Be polite, mindful, and kind- do your best to notice what’s going on at your table. If someone is missing silverware, doesn’t have a cup, or is getting visually uncomfortable from a particular conversation, do the best you can to rectify the situation.
Hosting is not always fun but try your best to enjoy the fruits of your efforts! You’ve planned, shopped, cooked, cleaned, served, cleared, and cleaned up. Enjoy the parts that are fun, don’t work too hard, ask for help, and rest up until next week!
What is The Marriage Initiative?
The Marriage Initiative is a program that aims to encourage better marriages through better education on the many facets of the subject.
How did the program begin?
Throughout my 25 years of teaching and following up with chassanim, I have seen many couples struggling with difficult situations. It is apparent to me that most of the problems men face are rooted in a lack of education about marriage and relationships. Earlier intervention and better education could have saved these men and their spouses from much pain and suffering. To help address this issue, The Marriage Initiative was formed about four years ago, working towards the goal of better marriages through better education.
What would you consider your specialty?
My specialty may simply be helping men understand relationships. So many men walk into a marriage under the assumption that “I’ve figured out lots of things – I can figure out this marriage thing, as well.” Some do, but many struggle. They are simply unfamiliar with a woman’s world, unfamiliar with the dynamics of the couple relationship, and try to apply the rules and concepts from their singlehood experience to an environment that responds to different approaches; and in which different, unfamiliar concepts apply. This can be very bewildering and frustrating.
I try to bridge that gap, to introduce men to the world of a woman and a relationship, allowing them to understand it and better apply their natural strengths and wisdom.
What should a person look for in a life partner?
A very important trait in a successful relationship is the ability to take responsibility for one’s own actions and issues. Someone who is constantly blaming others is unlikely to be willing to make the effort to work on the inevitable issues that arise in every marriage. Issues are not disasters, nothing is insurmountable as long as you have a partner who is willing to invest the effort to rise above it.
Additionally, someone who accepts responsibility is someone who will take care of their spouse.
What expectations should one have when going into a marriage?
Expect the unexpected! Marriage will be different than your preconceived notions. It will not necessarily be better or worse, but it will be different. The pictures we paint of what married life will be like are based on our general concept of marriage and what we know about our future spouse. Both of these assumptions are based on a lack of information! Most single people base their concept of marriage on media depictions and what they observe about their friends’ marriages. Media depictions of marriages are a definite fairy tale (or nightmare), and the reality of other peoples’ relationships takes place behind closed doors- one does not know anything about the true experience.
Our understanding of our spouse before marriage is largely based on the dating experience. When people are dating, they are focusing strongly on putting their best foot forward, we are generally seeing the best this person has to offer. That is not a sustainable situation- a spouse cannot be in “dating mode” throughout an entire marriage! Married life will be different than dating life. Keeping these two thoughts in mind will allow young married people to stay grounded and avoid unrealistic expectations and disappointment, a key component in the early days of a growing relationship.
What should a chosson and kallah do before the wedding, to best prepare for marriage?
It is vital to have a mentor. Beginnings can be challenging, and it is so important to have someone wise, trustworthy, and confidential with whom you can share concerns and fears. No one could take an office job in an unfamiliar field with no training or assistance, and be expected to figure everything out on his own. It should be plain that everyone needs someone to help “show the ropes” in the beginning. Yet, so many people walk into the most important time of their life, expecting to figure it out on their own. Some do, but many struggle. As a couple (or part of it) struggles in silence, challenges become entrenched, deeper, more painful, and more difficult from which to recover. When both members of the marriage have someone to talk to from the beginning, someone who can guide them through the early challenges, the initial bumps in the road can be navigated without too much damage or hurt.
Many newly married couples found themselves suddenly caged at home when coronavirus struck. How has that affected shalom bayis, and what would you advise couples struggling with quarantine?
I have found an interesting phenomena. Couples who had healthy shalom bayis before the lockdown reported that they really enjoyed Corona time at home with their spouse. Couples who had rocky or strained relationships found that coronavirus quarantine exasperated a painful situation. I think that the corona era presents a powerful diagnostic tool for a marriage. It helps bring problems into focus, showing couples the underlying strength or weaknesses in their relationships, and revealing what needs work. Coronavirus is an opportunity for a marriage, smart couples will grow from the experience. The collapse of schedules also provides time and opportunity for those in need to seek help.
What would you say is the secret to a good marriage?
We need to remember that a person needs to “check-in” before they “check out.” Take a good, hard look at yourself, and ask yourself what you can do better. Don’t focus on changing or finding fault in your spouse- look for the changes you can make in yourself. Trying to change others is a frustrating, insulting, and painful experience. Oneself is the place to start. And when one makes improvements in himself, the cycle of mutual understanding is launched. It is the best way to see changes happen in others.
Criticism makes people defensive, not different. Blaming one’s spouse is likely to start a bitter argument while vowing to do better is likely to bring reconciliation.
How can couples work on long-term strength in a marriage? Sometimes, people are happy initially, but later complain that their “spouse has changed,” or is “no longer the same person they married.” What would you say is the key to keeping a marriage strong?
Chazal tell us, “All beginnings are difficult.” Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt”l, was asked: Beginnings are usually when things are easiest! The first daf of a masechta is usually the one best learned – what did Chazal mean? Rav Scheinberg answered that the true beginning is when difficulty sets in. Until the trouble starts, one has not yet begun!
Couples that appear to be very happy in the early days of marriage may be confusing happiness with infatuation. Infatuation can be fun while it lasts; but it is invariably short-lived, and when it fades, the challenges set in.
These challenges are not a sign of existential trouble or problems, it is a sign of the maturity of the relationship, the passing from the stage of infatuation to real connection. Infatuation is not a basis for a real relationship, and it must transition to a truer, deeper connection. A real connection needs two real people, who are able to slowly reveal their whole self and be loved and accepted for whom they are.
How can readers access your classes?
During non-pandemic times, I traveled to the US to present classes about once in two months. These included one-on-one classes as well as group series’, with a new series beginning each trip and existing ones receiving continued installments. I also held continued classes via Zoom or other similar platforms. I have spoken for Chazaq and other organizations and events, some of these presentations can be found on themarriageinitiative.org.
The website also includes letters of recommendation from Rav Noach Orlowek and Dr. David Pelcovitz; as well as other information.
Do you have a final message for our readers?
Shalom bayis is worth the investment and effort! The Steipler said that 50% of chinuch is shalom bayis (the rest is tefilla). Even one who does not yet have children, or has an empty nest, stands to gain greatly from improved shalom with his spouse. If your shalom bayis is good, make it better! If it isn’t, invest whatever you can fix it- it’s possible, and it’s worth it.
Rabbi Weisberg is the Director of The Marriage Initiative, which aims to facilitate greater Shalom Bayis through in depth hadracha. Rabbi Weisberg teaches hadracha to Chassanim as well as newly married men who never got proper hadracha. Rabbi Weisberg lives in Israel, but also gives classes over Zoom and tries to visit the US frequently. One can find out more by going to themarriageinitiative.org or by emailing Rabbi Weisberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org