Friday, March 27, 2009

the beginning of things

So we decided to make aliyah.... what was next?  First step for us was the Nefesh BNefesh application.  Its been put online, so that was easy enough, but the amount of information they ask for is crazy!  Not only did I have to prove my Jewishness (luckily my Rabbi wrote me a letter), but I also had to prove that I had been living in the United States (or at least outside of Israel) since 2002).  Easy enough, right?  Just show them your passport!  Since 2002 I have held three (kind of) passports.  My first expired around 2002, so I got a new one in 2004, the first time I went to Israel.  Then I had to get another one when I got married, to change my name.  So I copied all 3 and sent them in.... but they werent good enough, since I had no active passport for a year and a half in that period.

Ok, so how else can I prove my residency?  They didnt seem to believe that the fact that I had no passport meant I couldnt leave the country...  In the end they demanded a letter from my High School that I had actually been enrolled there, and attended.  After all that balagan (craziness) I was happy just to be done...  Ok, so application was in, waiting for my visa... now what?

shipping of course!  Everyone who has ever moved knows that moving your personal belongings can be a pain... and moving them around the world is no different.  There are a lot of rules and fees to be aware of.  We went to a talk on shipping, hosted by the Jewish Agency, which was helpful.  They explained the different sizes of shipments, and some of the rules about what to bring.  As an Olah (new immigrant), I dont have to pay taxes on many things.  I can bring in clothes, kitchen appliances, furniture and many other things.  Certain items have limits.  For instance, I can bring in only ONE TV tax free, the others I will have to pay taxes on.  I can bring in one computer in my shipment, though laptops brought with me through the airport dont count.  rules, rules, more rules... and plenty of ways to "bend" them.  

One man asked for instance, about the law saying that you can only bring indoor furniture tax free.  what if he wanted to bring in lawn furniture? (dont ask me why...)  the answer was simple.  Ship it, mark it "table and chairs" and who will know where you use it?  IF you get opened by customs it may cause a problem... but whose to say you dont like using lawn furniture in your dining room?

All in all its been an eye opening experience so far.  We are mostly packed already (having never really unpacked from LA...) so its not that crazy for us.  In fact, I think the shipping guy was surprised when he came to give us our estimate... we are pretty organized.  It doesnt help that we have a baby due early summer, so I want to get everything organized and done as much as possible before it arrives.

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