The return of the Jewish people from exile in the diaspora (world) is referred to as Aliyah. The word Aliyah is a derivative from the Hebrew word ‘laalot’ which means to go out or in certain regions of Israel ‘to ascend’. If the goal is to be an immigrant to the Land of Israel then please have a look at this review as there are some timely and very informative bits of information contained within. The first thing that needs to be known about Aliyah is that the immigrants who make this journey back to the Land of Israel are referred to as Oleh. This means one who goes up and makes perfect sense in a spiritual and personal aspect as the entire format of returning to the Israel is a common goal for both the citizens of the country as well as the Israeli Government. All across the world and regardless of what country you hail from it you can claim Jewish descent or have been intertwined with the Jewish faith through marriage then you are welcome to take the journey of a lifetime to the Land of Israel through Aliyah.
Trip to Homeland
In order to learn about what steps are mandatory and required for the trip of Aliyah to Israel please have a look at the below list of steps for that endeavor. While there are so many stories about the immigration routes that so many people have taken to the Homeland of Israel it is important that you understand this journey will be a very personal one indeed. The choice to return to the Land of Israel through Aliyah is one that is made by thousands of individuals each and every year and many have found success in the State of Israel.
Steps to Aliyah
• Register at your Local Jewish Aliyah Center
• Research and Learn all there is to know and all that you can get your hands on about the Immigration to the Land of Israel
• Retain and Record each and every word of each conversation and transcribe that conversation with the name and date and title of the individual whom was spoken to on a written format.
• Prepare the Family for Aliyah to the Land of Israel
Many immigration journeys start with a visit to the local Jewish Alliance Center in your home country. If the locality is not near or is not easily accessible then this can be alleviated with online access and telephone communication. There will be, however, the necessity to have a few face-to-face interviews with the representatives of the Jewish Aliyah Center and these are usually found in larger metropolitan areas such as Miami, Los Angeles, Denver, New York and other larger cities all across the United States.
For all those desire to become a new immigrant to Israel and are not originating this journey from the North American continent then please have a look at a list of Israel Aliyah World Centers in or around your native homeland. From North America to Australia there are Jewish Federation Centers that concentrate and specialize on Aliyah so that your trip to Israel will go as smooth as possible. Good luck and we will see you in Jerusalem.
One of the most successful job markets in all of the Middle East is the Israeli job market. Varying widely with a uniquely-robust and well-industrialized service sector the State of Israel offers high-tech jobs, dependent upon the amount of education and experience of the immigrant. As with other countries and other economies Israel is no different with her wants and needs for careers and jobs. The demand for high-tech professional jobs is one of the most-desired and many companies within Israel will pay dearly to fill these crucial positions. Israel is a fantastic country for English-speaking immigrants to select since English is a widely-spoken language in the State of Israel. There are companies that will employ you straight off the plane even without knowing one word of Hebrew!
Cutting Edge Technology
The Israeli job market has long been on the cutting-edge of high-technology job related skill sets and the demand for programmers, web technology specialists, electrical engineers and experience code writers is what most Israeli companies are presently requiring. Most Israeli residents who have previously received their degrees in computer information technology can expect to receive compensation in the top 40% of the country. This is no different than what an immigrant into the country can expect with the same qualifications of course after the necessary steps have been to taken to assimilate into the Israeli society.
Thriving Productive Job Probability
The job market is vibrant and thriving in the State of Israel with the government and the shopkeepers doing all that is required to make Israel strong and profitable. The best way to have a more-detailed look at the labor force in the State of Israel that is open and accessible to immigrants as well is through a brief listing.
• Hi-Technology The market for educated and informed on the cutting edge of both informational systems and the Internet is desperately required jobs and careers in Israel. Computer programmers and electrical engineers make up the largest labor force for this sector in the area.
• Professional As in the Western hemisphere Israel shares the need and desire for lawyers, dentists, doctors and research scientists. Professionals make up the larger portion of educated and highly-skilled workers in Israel and the prerequisites for obtaining these lofty well-paying positions are almost identical to US and other industrialized nations.
• Service While every country requires a percentage of the labor force to be in the service sector these jobs are not that easy to find in the State of Israel. The reason why is that Eastern Europeans, such as Romanians and Slaviks, occupy a great majority of these service positions and do so legally though the temporary work visas.
Israel and Aliyah
The employability outlook overall for those that want to make Aliyah or just come over the traditional immigrant way is bright and open in Israel. The favored method for those living in diaspora and wanting to return to the Homeland is through Aliyah. The returning of the Jews to Israel is a commonality for all Judaic individuals no matter where they find themselves currently calling home.
If the option for immigrating through Aliyah or some other means such as the three-year temporary resident visa or even an extended tourist visa then this review will be just what the doctor ordered. As a new immigrant to the State of Israel the Jewish Agency known as Sochnut Yehudit will offer immigration assistance as long as you are both eligible and open to the idea of being under the proverbial arm of the Israeli Governmental assistance resources while in Israel. The Ministry of Absorption grants immigration benefits and citizenship benefits just like all other Israeli citizens to the immigrants that are migrating to Israel. There are other resources of assistance such as the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel AACI that will offer wonderful assistance if required.
Short List of Information
A great way to see an overview of what assistance is offered for those willing to take up Aliyah and immigrate to Israel is through a short list. Please see below some of the generalized benefits for immigration that are offered to all individuals seeking to return to the Land of Israel or just to come to Israel for work and residential purposes.
Immigration Traveling and Absorption Assistance
• Ulpan Hebrew Language Training
• Tax-Free Purchases or Imports-Think Duty-Free
• Preschool Fee Reduction
• Immediate Unemployment and Monthly Rental Assistance
• Reduction in Property Taxes
• Home Loan Grant/Assistance
• Children Allowance Benefits
• Moving to Israel Benefits
• Immediate Upon Ulpan Graduation Employment Assistance
Those are just some of the benefits that the State of Israel will grant you if you make Aliyah to this Middle Eastern country or come over on a work visa regardless of the amount of time that visa are predetermined to be for. While it is also true that red tape is quite a problem in the State of Israel this needs to be taken with a grain of salt as you will normally require all the assistance you can get your hands on especially when setting up for the first month or two in this Middle Eastern country. The bottom line is knowing which benefits for immigration are best for you and your family while immigrating to the State of Israel and ones that you can live with or without.
Helping Immigrants Come to Israel
It is important to also keep in mind that the Jewish Agency in your locale can be of great assistance for helping immigrants come to Israel. With deep resources and strong ties to the State of Israel and the country of origin the Jewish Agency is always the first steppingstone towards going Aliyah to the State of Israel. The assumption is always towards resources and benefits that match the need of the migratory individual. This is to say that an immigrant to Israel from Cambodia will require and receive more monetary as well as all other types of benefits than say an immigrant from Canada.
Steps to Aliyah for the Migration to Israel
• Register with the Local Jewish Agency
• Read up on Aliyah and the other factors that are interweaved with immigration to Israel
• Understand that once signed on with Aliyah there is a catch of three years of living in Israel without leaving or without leaving for a very good guaranteed purpose.
For anyone interested in renting a place to live in Israel, it is important to understand legal rights. Unfortunately, too many people sign a legally binding contract without first becoming educated, which leads to an array of problems. The following information outlines some of the key factors associated with renter’s rights while living in Israel.
• The rental agreement needs to be captured in a contract. This document would contain information and wishes from the property owner, as well as the renter, with the exception of legal provisions. Typically, the renter’s contract is standard, which could be downloaded from the internet but of course, the form could be modified as necessary. One important note specific to the rental contract is that if it was executed by a corporation and the representative from that corporation refuses to make amendments, this might be an illegal act.
• The most important aspect of any contract, which includes one used for renting a place to live in Israel, is that every detail needs to be written down. Although sometimes a verbal contract works, it would be impossible to prove something said. For this reason, disagreements involving a verbal agreement must often be resolved in a court of law.
• Remember, both the property owner and renter need to put everything agreed on in the contract. Additionally, if the contract has not been typed up, both parties would be required to initial and sign next to each modification, as validation.
• Renters have the right and responsibility to verify that the property owner is who he or she says, which could be verified with current identification. Now, if the individual does not own the property being rented but has a Power of Attorney and is acting on behalf of the owner, the renter could go online and search using “nesah tabu”, which is an official government approval and reliable means of verifying ownership.
People interested in renting in Israel should also be informed of a few key issues when it comes to legal rights as a renter in Israel. For one thing, most leases or contracts are setup for one year but if both parties agree, this period could be shortened or lengthened. The benefit of a contract is that once it expires, the renter would have the opportunity to renew and stay longer (if the place were still available), or move. However, if the renter decided to continue renting past the initial contract duration, the property owner would have the legal right to raise the rent, although some do not.
When preparing the contract, one option that could benefit the renter would be an “option clause”. In this case, the renter would have the option of extending the lease for the same period as the first contract or for a different timeframe, as agreed. Additionally, this clause would state the terms of the contract, whether remaining the same, or changing. In most cases, the property owner would increase the amount of rent but usually this would only be a small percentage. Typically, both the property owner and renter would agree on this ahead of time.
However, if the property owner were interested in adding an “option clause” whereby both parties would be involved in making decisions, the renter should be wary. Although the clause would state decisions are made by each party, the truth is that the property owner would have more power and thereby, the final say whether the rental contract would be renewed or not. For this reason, experts strongly recommend that a renter avoid any contract with an option clause requiring both parties to make decisions.
The renter should also request an early termination clause. Life changes unexpectedly so having a clause that would allow the renter to break the lease early under certain circumstances would be beneficial. Most standard clauses allow the property owner and the renter to terminate early but only with a two to three-month notice. If an early termination clause were not added, the renter would still be bound by law to continue paying rent throughout the duration of the contract even if no longer living on the property. One solution would be to have the option of subletting the property listed in the contract.
Until about a year ago, the price of rental property in Israel was quoted in United States dollars but we are now seeing the NIS currency being used more often. For the rental contract, either currency could be used but if the renter were unfamiliar with NIS, it would be important to complete a currency conversion to make sure the rent was listed correctly. Usually, if United States dollars were used, the property owner would set a minimum exchange rate. However, it would be wise for the renter to insist on a maximum exchange rate being set as well, although this might be a challenge.
As a part of the rental contract, the calculation method used for determining the exchange rate would need to be outlined, as well as when calculated, which is typically done on a daily basis. Now, if no exchange rate was established and the renter paid monies in advance, it would be imperative that the contract state at the end of the contract, both the property owner and the renter would calculate the difference. At that time, any money owed would be paid to the appropriate party.
Whenever rent in Israel is quoted in NIS, no special information or instructions would be required regarding calculation and payment. In this case, rent would simply be paid according to the terms outlined in the legal contract. The due date for rent should also be listed in the contract, whether paid on a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual basis. Even the day of the week on which rent would be due should be listed. Usually, a property owner would require rent to be paid on the first or last day of the month but if needed, special arrangements could be made. For rent increases, unless the contract has a special clause, the property owner would not be allowed to raise the rent until the contract expires.
It is also important for renters to understand rights pertaining to making changes to the property. Traditionally, a rental contract would prohibit any changes without the renter first receiving written permission from the property owner. In addition, the condition in which the property was turned over to the renter is the same condition it must be returned. Most often, renters can hang artwork as long as nail holes are filled and paint touched up when ready to move.
In most cases, the property owner would have the place freshly painted prior to renting but if permission were granted, the renter would likely have the opportunity to paint the walls but only if they were painted the original color at the end of the contract. As far as repairs, the property owner would have the responsibility to fix anything that breaks due to normal wear and tear, a term that would need to be clarified in the rental contract.
On the other hand, if something were broken by the renter or someone visiting the renter as the result of negligence or willful act, the financial responsibility would belong to the renter. Even so, before any repairs were made, the renter should address the situation with the property owner regarding making the repairs and materials to use. Often, another clause would be added to the rental contract stating that if the property owner failed to make repairs in a timely manner, which would be stipulated in the document, the renter would have the right to fix the problem at which time expenses would be reimbursed.
Any rental contract should also include a clause whereby the renter could deduct monies paid for repairs from a future rent payment. It is important to know that unless the rental contract states this specifically, the property owner would be breaking the law by reducing the amount of rent for expenses associated with repairs. Additionally, the renter should have an inspection performed on the property so any defects, damages, or potential problems could be identified and listed in the contract. With this, the renter would be protected from blame for damage done while living in the property.
The infrastructure of the property would also be the full responsibility of the property owner, which would include electrical, plumbing, walls, floors, ceiling, and so on. For the renter, utility bills, taxes on the property known as arnona, standard maintenance expenses, and applicable homeowner’s association fees called va’ad bayit, as well as the rent would be the responsibility of the renter. One note – if the property were being rented to a new immigrant or olim, this individual could claim a discount or ask for exemption from the municipal property taxes but only for the first year after coming into the country.
Sadly, immigrants have been misled by dishonest property owners into paying bills that have nothing to do with renting the property. For instance, there have been cases of a property owner or landlord and renter having an apartment in the same building. However, utilities for both units were being run off the renter’s meter, which means the immigrant was paying utility bills for two households. Because of this, renters in Israel have the legal right to ask to see current utility bills for electricity, gas, water, and so on.
Regarding furniture or furnishings within the property, the rental contract should clearly state what items would be provided. For instance, when renting an apartment in Israel, some do not have refrigerators. However, if the renter were to view a space with a refrigerator but it was not listed in the rental contract that a refrigerator would be provided, more than likely it would be gone on the day of move in.
It is common for a rental contract to include a clause whereby the renter would wave rights under the Renter’s Protection Law. While it would seem more important for this clause to be excluded, the truth is there is not much merit to this particular clause. Therefore, if a renter were to find this clause in a rental contract for a place in Israel, there would not be much reason for concern. The reason is that whether the clause is or is not in the contract, the renter would still be protected under this Israel law.
Today, a significant amount of information is circulating regarding making Aliyah, which is something not heard since the Six Day War back in 1967. Over the past five years, the number of people attending Aliyah events throughout the United Kingdom and North American is on the rise. In fact, a large number of people are showing interest and participating in olim. When looking at Diaspora Jewry, it is easy to say that more than 20,000 new olim is an accurate number.
Many reasons exist for the growth in Aliyah in the western world. For one, the current economy has been devastating. Additionally, the cost for Jewish education has skyrocketed. Then, with many unhappy people ever since President Obama took office, the Israeli government has used this as an opportunity to educate people about olim. However, several organizations to include Ami and Nefesh B’Nefesh have seen incredible success, strongly believing that if people are provided with olim to include all things involving Aliyah, the people will gravitate to it.
These organizations also believe that rather than olim trying to get through life without much, if any assistance for things such as education, housing, and jobs, that if prospective olim are provided with Aliyah events and support, the problems would be greatly diminished. If you think you might be interested in Aliyah, the following suggestions would help make the transition easier from a financial perspective.
One of the first and most important steps to take for any prospective olim is to stop putting so much emphasis and worry about the cost of living in Israel upon arrival. It is true that because healthcare and education costs are less than what you would find in North American, income levels are also less. Then, to start Aliyah, there are expenses involved, especially at first. However, to gain incredible insight into you could budget for this and afford to live in Israel, you might visit the NBN website, which offers a wealth of information.
It is perfectly normal for new olim to choose products from the old country, those they know and understand but to make the transition easier when moving from North America to Israel counselors for Aliyah actually suggest that people continue buying American products for awhile. Keep in mind however that many modernized products, specifically those from the United States are higher priced than what you would pay in Israel but within a short time, you will be able to find similar products that are just as good but for less money.
Some new olim prefer to stick with the US currency while some depend on non-Shekel pensions. No matter the preference, one of the most important changes will be to move the money to Israel but using an easy, efficient, and affordable method. For this, you could deposit dollar checks into a local bank in Israel, having the money wired electronically, or work with a licensed, foreign exchange firm. If you choose the latter, you would find the process simpler by working with a financial expert or a veteran olim.
If you decide to move to Israel you would also want to meet with a financial planner who can provide you with guidance for hedging foreign currency to the Shekel. The good news is that the financial market has been stable in Israel for the past three years but even so, approximately 20% moves for both appreciation and depreciation have been seen specific to the US dollar and Shekel. This means that if for some reason you were to see a decrease in income by 20%, completing your Aliyah could be significantly impacted. This is why understanding how to manage your finances is a key factor when becoming a new olim.
The truth is that making Aliyah is a serious decision, one that comes with numerous and dramatic changes. Because of this, the key to success starts with good planning to make the transition seamless but it also depends on education so as you begin your new life and experience new lifestyle changes, you would not feel as overwhelmed.
When moving to Israel for Aliyah, one of the first things a person should do is look into medical care. The way healthcare works in this country is with a national socialized system, which involves 5% of a person’s paycheck to go into a pool. Now, for the individual who is unemployed, each family member would cost NIS 60. However, new immigrants are given a six-month grace period but also, there is never a cost for children.
In addition, standard healthcare services are free although on occasion, a person may be required to pay a nominal deductible. Then, for services not covered under the basic healthcare basket, people can purchase supplemental insurance. In this case, the law for Israel, known as the National Health insurance law ensures “4 health funds” are added to the basket for each person living in this country, regardless of past/present health, age, or even country of origin. This means unlike western countries, pre-existing conditions in Israel are covered.
As far as care Israel is quite modern, providing excellent service while using state-of-the art equipment and supplies. Because of this, when it comes to countries with high life expectancies, Israel is rated at number three, which is actually much better than the United States. This status applies to both genders and best of all infant mortality rates are extremely low. Now, while medical care in Israel is excellent and while most hospitals and clinics are outstanding, some are still behind the times when it comes to modernized equipment and some are in disrepair.
4 Health Funds
People in Israel are provided with “4 health funds”, which are provided by the government, with each for a different system. When a person comes to Israel, a requirement to join a fund in the first week may be mandatory. However, once the fund is chosen, the individual would have the opportunity to change but only if he/she has been in the current fund for a minimum of six months and during the period for enrollment.
Along with these rules, the health fund for Israel can be changed twice annually but a request must be made 90 days prior to the official date allowed to include January and July 1. For this, people would take their ID card to the post office and a list of any family members. Of course, the head of the household and family can be on different funds. However, to change the fund for a spouse, his/her ID would also be required, as well as a letter granting permission. The cost for the change is NIS 10 for each person being changed.
Because each of the funds is based on a different philosophy, it would be important for the person to understand what all it covers. Then, a hospital and/or clinic in the desired area would be chosen, with most people choosing those close to home. For the employed person, if coverage for medical care were not taken from the paycheck, it would be necessary to visit a Bitauch Leumi – National Insurance office for registration, as well as the health tax to be paid.
For four funds offered include Kupot Holim Clalit, Macabbi Health Services, Mehuhedet, and Leumit. The first two are the primary choices. Of the four, Kupot Holim Clalit is not only the largest but also the biggest. This fund works like an HMO, meaning limitations would exist for choosing a doctor, clinic, hospital, and pharmacy. Of all hospitals in Israel, this fund owns and operates approximately 40%. Typically, the level of care is exceptional.
For people moving to Israel from westernized countries, most find this particular fund difficult to handle. The reason is that the doctor has the last say and wait time for appointments is long. On the positive side, this fund offers the most comprehensive healthcare system in the country. Now, if a person lived in an area deemed
“out of the way”, and the only local clinic was Clalit, that clinic would become the default choice.
Most people from westernized countries going to Israel prefer the Macabbi Health Services fund. All hospitals and clinics are operated with independent doctors and people would have a much broader selection of healthcare professionals and facilities.
Supplemental Medical Coverage
Depending on the fund chosen, some allow supplemental coverage but a one-year waiting period applies. For this reason, many people will enroll in supplemental coverage prior to changing the fund. Now, for the person who has supplemental coverage for the existing fund, it would be important to make sure when changing the fund that the extra coverage had also been cancelled. If this is not done, money would still be withdrawn from the person’s bank account and getting a refund takes months.
One challenge in Israel is that obtaining a copy of a person’s medical records is tough for doctors and hospitals. This is why it is always recommended that anyone moving to Israel maintain an original copy, specifically if being treated for a condition. This way, a copy of the records could be provided to doctors and hospitals.
When a person has supplemental coverage, several services not covered by the basket would be included, except for nursing care. To receive approval, several factors would be included such as the person’s age, current health, and country of origin. Each person in the family applying for supplemental coverage would be reviewed and each would need to go through the wait period. Some of the things this type of coverage covers includes vaccinations, private surgery, care after major surgery, transplants, special procedures to preserve life, although not offered Israel, well care checkups, and discounts on dental care.
Typically, the cost of extra care is not covered 100% and approval for coverage would be required by management first. In Israel, approximately 70% of people have some type of supplemental insurance.
Private insurance is also available in Israel, which is not considered as supplemental coverage for the funds. To purchase this type of insurance, an individual would need to purchase it through an insurance company. For options, several exist and once insurance has been purchased, it is guaranteed. Of all coverage types, most people choose a comprehensive plan so the full cost of surgery would be paid. Some people also prefer worldwide coverage, meaning surgery would be paid for if performed in another state.
As with westernized insurance, private insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. For this reason, it would be wise to take out a policy while healthy. Today, it is estimated that 30% of the population in Israel has this type of insurance.
For baby care, a separate outside the funds is offered, which provides children with examinations, immunizations, and pre-natal care to the mother. The cost for this type of insurance is only NIS 20 per month and unlike other countries, if parents fail to show up for an appointment, the doctor, or clinic would offer ongoing reminders. Unfortunately, baby care overall is sub-standard and in fact, doctors in the country are known for being dramatic about variations to standards. In fact, if a child were on the lower or upper end of the growth chart, in this country it would warrant a trip to the emergency room.
You may have heard the word “Aliyah” but have no clue as to what it means. This word is used to describe the process of Jewish people who have been in exile in Diaspora making their way back to Israel. The word “Aliyah” is actually a derivative of another word “Lallot”, which translates to “to ascend” or “to go up.” When the term Aliyah is used, it is done so in a spiritual sense, being something positive. After all, the name for Aliyah is Oleh, which means the “one who goes up.”
In the past five years, the number of people making Aliyah has increased dramatically. Hearing about literally millions of Jewish people who have chosen to make Aliyah to Israel is common but when you consider the incredible desire for these people to hold onto their cherished identity, even when faced with strong assimilation in various countries, it is overwhelming. The decline of the Jewish people in Diaspora is ongoing yet we see the number of people moving to Israel increasing.
Now, the question becomes why someone would think about making Aliyah. First, it is highly recommended that anyone thinking about this should go to Israel to get a feel for the country, the people, and the customs. For college students, Israel provides some amazing opportunities. In fact, students can visit this country through birthright Israel programs that make traveling affordable.
For anyone making a first trip to Israel, it would be important to spend time learning about the country’s history by visiting various museums, archaeological sites, and other cultural locations throughout the country. An excellent way to experience Israel is to begin a trip at Golan Heights, which is located in the northern region, heading to Eilat in the southern part of Israel. The land varies, providing insight into the topography and beauty of this amazing land.
For instance, people can look out over the Judean Desert, having the chance to envision living in times when Hebrew patriarchs lived. People would find this experience heartwarming, as they realize that modern day Samaria and Judea, earlier called Shomron and Yehuda were the very places in Israel where distance relatives literally changed history due to a monotheistic belief.
Of course, along with seeing the vast land of Israel and learning about the history and culture, it would also be important for people to visit the modern stores and shops now in existence. After all, Israel is a modern country, one with large shopping centers, grocery stores, clothing stores, and more to be enjoyed. It is this unique combination of old and new that makes the journey to Israel so intriguing and influential.
People interested in making Aliyah can do so at any age although usually the younger the person the easier. After all, when moving to Israel, many individuals would need to learn a different language, eat different food, and adapt to an entirely new culture in a foreign land. For this reason, younger people find this kind of change more of an adventure, which is less stressful. Obviously, making Aliyah while a late teen would make the transition far easier than at age 50.
For people who are close to graduating from high school, Israel offers a number of top-rated universities. However, students could also choose to participate in a Yeshiva program if desired. Interestingly, when someone goes to Israel as an Oleh, the Jewish Agency actually has a means of financing college studies. For the first year of college, students complete an in-depth study for Hebrew, which is known as Ulpan. After the first year, students would then have the opportunity to pursue an education in whatever area wanted.
For adults making Aliyah that need to find employment, they could consider working for any of the top companies in a variety of fields such as computer, software, and internet, service-related jobs, personal jobs to include working as medical, educational, or financial professional, and more. Numerous career opportunities exist for anyone making Aliyah, which means people can choose a field in which they have interest or training.
Regarding the housing market, people will discover that in Israel, several communities have been established specifically for new Jewish immigrants. Although housing can be found in different parts of Israel, two of the most popular for Aliyah is Jordan Valley and Yesha. There, people would be able to choose from an apartment known as a Deera, a two-level apart or condo known as a Duplex, an attached house with a small yard called a Cottage, or a single-family home, which is referred to as a Villa.
Renter’s rights in Israel
1. A contract can contain almost anything both sides agree upon, excluding illegal provisions. Usually, a lease contract will be of a standardized form- these can be easily found on-line. Note that you have the right to amend it to your wishes. If the contract is signed with a corporation (and this is true to all areas, not just rental) the latter’s refusal to amend the contract might be illegal.
2. The first rule is always to have everything written down. It’s true that verbal agreements do have a binding effect; however, it’s hard to prove their existence and details, and usually require the involvement of the court to enforce.
3. Whatever you agree on, write down and have both sides sign next to it- every change in a lease contract that hasn’t been typed needs both sides’ signature next to it to confirm authenticity.
4. Verification of details- ask to see the landlord’s ID. Technically, you should also verify that he/she is actually the owner of the property, or has the legal right to lease it (as in power of attorney). The most reliable way to verify ownership is via “nesah tabu”- an official government approval (can be found on-line).
Length of lease: the standard length of a lease is one year. However, it can be as the sides to the contract agree. The advantage- the tenant is free to leave after at the end of the lease. The disadvantage is that the landlord can raise the rent if the tenant wishes to stay at the end of the lease. The solution to this is the option clause- giving the tenant (and only the tenant) the choice to extend the lease for another term or part of a term on the same conditions (most importantly-rent). Sometimes the rent will be increased by a percentage and sometimes by a set amount agreed by the parties in advance. An option clause that leaves the decision to both parties i.e. the tenant and the landlord, essentially gives the landlord veto power on whether or not the lease will be renewed and is not recommended.
Leaving before the end of the lease: As life is unpredictable, it’s best to add a clause allowing you to terminate the lease early. The standard clause will allow both sides to terminate the lease with proper advance notice (usually 2-3 months). Failing to add this clause means you will be legally obliged to pay full rent until the end of the lease, even if you don’t live there. If you would like the option to sublet your apartment, this needs to be stipulated in the contract.
Rent: Up until a year or so ago most rents were quoted in USD. However, this is gradually changing to NIS. In any case, rent is usually paid in NIS, but again- a different agreement can be reached.
* If the rent is quoted in USD- most landlords will insist on setting a minimum exchange rate (such as 4.2), you can try to also insist on a maximum rate, but you’re not likely to succeed. The lease must set how the exchange rate is calculated and when (usually- pay day). If there is no set exchange rate, and rent is paid ahead of time- make sure the lease states that both sides will calculate the difference at the end of the lease and make the appropriate payments according to it.
* If the rent is quoted in NIS (recommended) there shouldn’t be any special instructions.
Rent is payable according to the terms agreed in the rental contract. You may pay monthly, quarterly, every 6 months or even yearly. Rent is usually due either on the last or on the first day of the month.
Rent cannot be increased unless the lease allows for it, or the option clause states the increase.
Changes to the property: Usually there is a clause in the lease prohibiting the tenant from making changes without the landlord’s consent. Essentially the apartment needs to be returned to the landlord in the same condition that you received it at the beginning of the contract. You can, for instance, hang pictures on the walls, but you will need to fill any holes in and brush up the paintwork before you leave.
If your rental apartment was freshly painted before you moved in, you may need to repaint it when you leave. However, the lease must stipulate this, and if it does not, then you are under no obligation to paint the apartment.
Repairs: It is the landlord’s responsibility to repair anything that breaks down in the apartment due to normal wear and tear- this should be stated in the lease. It is the tenant’s responsibility to repair anything that the tenant (or any visitors) breaks by a willful act or by negligence. You should ask the landlord how to report when something needs to be repaired and you should leave yourself the option in the contract to make repairs yourself if the landlord fails to do so. If you make the repairs yourself, the landlord must reimburse you. It’s prudent to add a clause in the lease enabling you to deduct any expenses for repairs from future rent payments- otherwise, this deduction will be considered illegal. It’s wise to do an inspection of the condition of the apartment and its furnishings, and to note any blemishes in the contract itself so that the landlord can’t come to you afterwards and say that you caused the damage. All infrastructure is the landlord’s responsibility (ie pipes, ceiling, walls, etc).
Additional expenses: In addition to the rental payments, the tenant is usually responsible for paying utility bills, municipal taxes on the property (arnona), home owners association fees (va’ad bayit) and ongoing maintenance expenses. It is important to note that new immigrants (olim) can claim an exemption or discount from arnona for the first year after Aliya. To take advantage of this, go to the offices of the municipality and request the reduction. Be aware of bills that do not relate to your apartment specifically. Olim have been duped into paying bills that cover their landlord’s apartment because separate meters weren’t installed. Ask to see your meters (water, electricity, gas) and make sure they are for your apartment only.
Furnishings: Don’t assume that what you see is what you get; make sure that the contract says clearly what the apartment includes. In Israel it is not automatic that an apartment has a fridge, and if you do not have it in the contract, and there happened to be one when you came to see the apartment, don’t assume it will be there when you move in.
Almost every contract includes a clause where the renter waives his rights under the renter’s protection law. As odd as it seems, this clause is almost meaningless, and the renter should not be alarmed at agreeing to sign such a contract, since their rights are still protected despite it.
For the first time since the 1967 Six Day War, there actually appears to be a buzz about making Aliyah. The last 5-6 years have seen a continual- year on year- surge in numbers of both actual olim, and those who attend Aliyah informational events in both North America and the UK. While more than 20,000 new olim is a statistical ‘drop in the bucket’ with regard to the numbers of Diaspora Jewry, it’s a huge accomplishment compared to Aliyah numbers in previous decades.
There are many reasons for the spike in western Aliyah: the cost of Jewish education, a sluggish economy and more recently, a backlash against the election of President Obama, but much of the credit needs to go the Israeli government for understanding that the best way to bring olim is to privatize the whole process.
The successes of organizations like Nefesh B’Nefesh and Ami point to the fact that if you provide olim with a full service Aliyah platform, they not only will come, but they will stay in Israel. Instead of letting olim fend for themselves regarding housing, employment, and schooling after they arrive, these organizations help prospective olim with these issues long before their plane arrives at Ben-Gurion airport.
For those of you contemplating Aliyah in the near future, here are 3 financial tips that should make your financial transition smoother.
Create a Budget
One of the biggest hang-ups that prospective olim have is that they have no idea how much money they will need to live on in Israel. While the cost of living in Israel is far less than in the US for example (mostly due to much lower education and healthcare costs), incomes in Israel are far less than in the US. There are a lot of ‘start-up’ costs associated with making Aliyah. The NBN website has good budget information that will give you a good idea how much it will cost you to live in Israel.
When it comes to shopping, new olim often choose the familiar, old country products. In fact many Aliyah counselors will encourage buying ‘American’ products as a way of easing the transition. While there is nothing wrong with this in moderation, these products tend to be much more costly than local, Israeli products. You are not making Aliyah to Woodmere. You will be living in Israel and as such, need to adapt. (BTW- I think Local Telma Cornflakes are so much better than Kellogg’s!)
For those of you that either will continue to be paid in US Dollars, or are living off non-Shekel based pensions, the issue of getting your money to Israel in an efficient and low cost manner is critical. Whether it’s by sending electronic wire transfers, depositing dollar checks in local banks or with licensed foreign exchange firms, speak with veteran olim or a financial professional to figure out which way is best for you.
\It is also important to speak with a financial professional to figure out if/how to hedge your foreign currency against the Shekel. While things have been relatively stable over the last few months, over the last 2-3 years we have seen moves of over 20% in both appreciation and depreciation of the Shekel/USD. If your income were to drop 20% in local terms, that could have a serious impact in the feasibility of your Aliyah and as such needs to be addressed.
There is no question that making Aliyah is a big lifestyle change. With the right planning the transition should be smooth, and your lifestyle will change for the better.