How to Have a Successful Aliyah: Part Five – Community
After seeing countless olim come and go during my nine months in Israel, I felt I had to do something. I’ve always been a planner, and making aliyah (immigrating to Israel, for the uninitiated) is the craziest thing I have done to date and also the best thing. Out of all my friends who are recent olim I feel like I’m among the happiest and most well-adjusted, and as I speak to many of them I am beginning to see a pattern of common mistakes new olim make. None of the solutions I am about to propose are mandatory and they might vary from person to person, but these are the things that worked for me.
Problem: For whatever reason, I can’t enter communal housing – either my Hebrew is too good to qualify for ulpan, I don’t want to live with a roommate, or I have a PhD or am too old to take advantage of the free tuition benefit.
So it looks like your way of integrating might not be as easy as it is for other olim. That’s fine, there are other ways.
Solution: Attend community events!
In Israel, communities are much more involved, and this can be used to your benefit!
- At Nefesh B’Nefesh, there are always events going on – parties, wine/food tastings, film screenings, holiday events, and the like. For more info on NBN events near you, click here. They’re a great way to meet like-minded olim.
- Municipalities also hold events frequently. So be sure to check out your municipality’s website to find out what’s going on.
- Meetup.com is a great resource to meet people who share your interests and hobbies, with groups for diverse subjects such as hiking and Torah learning.
- Craving a more intimate setting? Sign up for a Shabbat dinner at Shabbat.com. They also have an app to pair people up with like-minded families who are hosting. It’s a great way to make lifelong friends. I know I’ve met some great people through the Shabbat grapevine!
Problem: How do I find the community that’s right for me?
Here’s a quick and dirty guide:
Free-spirited: Tel Aviv
Eclectic and chill, up and coming, with a beach, that’s cheaper than Tel Aviv: Haifa
Moderately-priced suburbs of Haifa: Hadera, Nahariya, Carmiel, Yokneam
Moderately-priced suburbs of Tel Aviv: Ramat Aviv, Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Rishon LeTsiyon, Rehovot, Petach Tikvah, Rosh HaAyin
Sort of a Tel Aviv suburb but a bit farther down with beautiful beaches: Ashdod, Ashkelon
Sort of a Tel Aviv suburb but a bit farther up with beaches (and fancy): Herzilya
Sort of a Tel Aviv suburb but a bit farther up and sort of close to beaches: Kfar Saba, Hod HaSharon
The fanciest area in Israel, where Bibi and his family go on vacation and live when he’s not Prime Minister: Caesarea
Somewhat less fancy but still nice suburb of Tel Aviv also with beaches and lots of French and Russians: Netanya
Suburb of Tel Aviv that’s good for kids and retirees: Raanana
Reasonably priced suburbs of Tel Aviv: Bat Yam, Holon,
Area that reminds you of a nice neighbourhood in the US with friendly people who like the luxe life but is a bit on the pricey side: Zichron Yaacov
Neighbourhood in which you can get a house like the one you have in the US for around the same price: “The Gush”: Efrat, Neve Daniel, Ariel, etc.
UBER-Religious: Beitar Illit, Modi`in-Ilit
Area that reminds one of Albuquerque and Reno, with an excellent hospital and university nearby and very reasonably priced homes: Beer Sheva
Mountains, wineries, and ski slopes: The Galilée (Qiryat Shmona, Rosh Hanikra, Metula)
New community between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that’s perfect for two spouses, one who works in each city, and a great place for kids: Modi’in
Suburbs of Jerusalem that are great places to raise a family, with a lot of Anglos: Beit Shemesh, Givat Shmuel, Maale Adumim
If you want to work in hotel management, resorts, and hospitality and don’t mind being far from everything else: Eilat
If you like seeing miles upon miles of desert as far as the eye can see, off-roading, the Dead Sea, and reasonably priced houses: Arad
If you want to truly immerse yourself in “Middle Israel” and be the only olim in the neighbourhood: Afula
Religious Suburb of Tel Aviv: Bnei Brak
A cheaper but less nice version of Modi`in: Lod
If you like living in the Middle of Nowhere: Mitzpe Ramon, Dimona
On the Rise: Kfar Yona, Ness Ziona, Elad