Here is a cumulative list of helpful resources for getting around Israel, followed by tips, and important vocabulary words in Hebrew! We hope this information will help you kickstart your new life in Israel.
Finding Housing: There are three main websites listed below where people look to find housing in Israel. These sites let you choose by city, rental price, and also by location and distance from a particular area (ex: the central train station).
Tip: When looking for a “dira” (apartment), some of the key things to ask about are whether the apartment has a “dod shemesh” (solar water heater), a “mazgan” (AC/heating unit), and whether or not “vad bayit” (maintenance fee) and “arnona” (housing taxes) are included in the rent.
When making Aliyah you will receive a voucher from the Misrad Haklita for a free Hebrew Ulpan course which can be used at a number of ulpanim across Israel.
Olim must apply within the first 18 months after your Aliyah. A standard Ulpan course lasts for 5 months (5 days a week, 5 hours a day).
For additional one-on-one Hebrew lessons or more intensive courses, Urban Recruits highly recommends Aviv Bertele, a professional Hebrew teacher located in Tel Aviv.
“Va’ad Bayit”(Maintenance Fees):
This includes all of the maintenance fees of the apartment building, for example: stairway cleaning, gardening, electricity in the hallways, and elevator maintenance.
Tip: Make sure you know when renting your apartment whether the va’ad bayit is included in your rental fee or whether you are responsible for paying this separately. Most apartment buildings have one specific apartment within the building that is in charge of collecting this payment monthly.
“Arnona” (Municipal Taxes):
The price of arnona depends on where you are living and the size of your apartment.
Tip: When moving into a new apartment, it is important to have the arnona transferred into your name to avoid paying the arnona of the previous tenants. To change the name on the arnona you must go to the “iriya” (city hall) with your ID (t.z.) and leasing agreement.
Tip: If you are a new Oleh, soldier or student you may be eligible for an arnona discount. All discounts are accepted from January 1st until August 1st. To apply for this bring your t.z. and teudat oleh to the iriya.
Paying Bills in Israel :
Bills in Israel are generally paid once every two months and in one of the following three ways:
1. Credit Card: this allows you to pay your bill directly online through the company website
2. “Hora'at Keva” (Standing Bank Order): this allows your bill to be deducted monthly directly from your bank account
3. Cash via Post Office: this allows you to pay your bills in cash at the post office
Tip: The following two websites allow you to pay all of your bills online through credit card with no commission:
Types of Bills to Pay:
“Chashmal” Electricity: There is one main provider for electricity throughout Israel.
Tip: It is advised to transfer your electric bill under your own name. You can do this by reading the meter and calling the number: 103. When you call give them the following information: the contact number on the bill (top left hand corner of the bill), your name, your t.z. number, and the current measurement on the meter.
“ Gaz” Gas: Like all other bills, this bill is paid bimonthly.
PazGas: www.pazgaz.co.il *9636 (1-800-667788)
Amisra Gas: www.amisragas.co.il 1-700-701702 (03-6417274)
Super Gas: www.supergas.co.il *3114 (1-800-347826)
Tip: The numbers given in parentheses are emergency contact numbers. If you think you may have a gas leak call the emergency number immediately and make sure all of the apartment’s windows are open.
“Mayim” Water: Depending on what city you live in, your water bill may be either included in your arnona taxes or separate.
Tip: When moving into a new apartment, it is important to change the water bill under your name. You can do this by bringing your lease agreement to your city’s “iriya” (city hall).
Tip: Make sure you use your water responsibly, as water in Israel is currently a limited resource!
Setting up Internet:
There are several internet service providers in Israel, each with their own offers. Before settling on one provider, try contacting a few to find out which internet service is best for you.
Bezeqint: www.bezeqint.net 1-800-014014
Hot: www.hot.net *6900
Netvision: www.013netvision.net.il 1-800-013013
012Smile: www.smile.net.il 1-800-012012
Tip: Most internet packages come with contracts of a year or more. If you are planning to leave the country for more than a month, call your internet provider to freeze your services for the duration you will be gone.
Tip: Do not be fooled by some “deals” that will offer you a cheap price for the first 6 months and then a much more expensive price after. It is very important to fully understand all the terms and conditions on the contract you have with your internet provider.
Tip: If you are a student, you may be eligible for a discount.
Setting up Cable & Satellite TV:
There are two main cable and satellite TV providers in Israel, each providing several different package options. Each provider includes its own set of television shows, so make sure the one you choose is the one you want.
Hot: www.hot.net.il *6900
YES: www.yes.co.il *2080
Tip: When you have a TV in Israel, you are responsible to pay a mandatory “agra” (tax) that is paid annually to the Israeli Broadcasting Association. This tax is about 400nis. For more information about this tax, please go to: www.iba.org.il/gvia Tip: Before signing up with a company for cable or satellite, make sure that you know your rights as an Oleh, as you may be entitled to certain discounts.
Opening a “Heshbon Bank” Bank Account:
Opening a bank account in Israel may be one of the most time consuming things you may have to do. Be sure to get to the bank early and prepare yourself for the typical Israeli bureaucracy of sitting for about two hours and signing your name 20+ times on various agreements with the bank. Make sure to bring ALL of your documents when opening up an account for the first time.
First International Bank of Israel:
Bank Hapoalim: www.bankhapoalim.co.il
Bank Leumi: www.leumi.co.il
Israel Discount Bank: www.discountbank.co.il
Mercantile Discount Bank:www.mercantile.co.il
Mizrahi Tefahot Bank:www.mizrahi-tefahot.co.il
Tip: When opening a bank account, make sure the branch you choose is near your house or in a convenient location, as the bank you choose to open your account in will be your main branch. If you decide to go to another branch that is not your main one you can only do simple teller transactions, everything else such as ordering checks or credit cards is done at your main branch only.
Tip: Make sure you are aware of your main branch hours, some banks are open for a half day on Fridays and some banks are open on Sundays.
Tip: All new Olim are entitled to an “absorption basket” from the Misrad Haklita. You must have an active bank account in order to receive this funding.
Tip: If you decide to have an Israeli debit card or credit card, it is important to know that once a month your credit card bill is paid for automatically from funds in your checking account. Unlike other credit cards abroad where you can pay a monthly minimum with interest, in Israel your credit card must be paid off by the date that the card takes the funds from your checking account.
Tip: If you are a student, make sure the bank knows as you may be entitled to discounts or special credit cards (campus student card).
There are many competing cellular phone companies in Israel. Recently “Golan” took the lead in providing customers with plans that have no contract and have a one month flat rate of 99nis including: unlimited SMS, minutes, and internet, as well as free calling to over 50+ countries.
Tip: Currently Golan is recommended for those who already have a cellular phone and are just looking to buy a sim card. The other companies have payment plans for buying a cellular phone. You can also buy an unlocked phone and order a Golan sim card, without the hassle of a payment plan.
Tip: If you are a soldier or a student you may be eligible for discounts on phone plans.
Tip: If you plan to have many phone lines under one bill provider, make sure to ask about a family package.
National Insurance Law requires all residents in Israel to have health care coverage. Each resident belongs to a “kupat holim” (health care clinic). If you are working health care is covered by your employer and if you are not working you are required to pay a minimal monthly fee that is paid in three installments to the “Misrad Betuach Leumi” (the National Insurance Institute).
Tip: If you are a new Oleh, make sure that you receive your voucher from the Betuach Leumi office that will make you eligible for up to one year of free health care coverage in Israel. You can obtain this voucher by going to the “Misrad Haklita” with your t.z. and teudat oleh.
Important Emergency Numbers:
Magen David Adom (MDA): 101
Fire Fighting Services: 102
Israel Electric: 103
Tip: When emergency sirens go off you are to go into your building’s or local areas “mamad” (saftey room) inside the “miklat” (underground shelter). **Twice a year Israel holds practice sirens, that are scheduled so everyone will be notified in advanced.
Tip: When making Aliyah, it is important to request a gas mask from the Misrad Haklita. There are a limited amount of gas masks available for sale; however every new citizen is entitled to one from the Misrad Haklita”.
Driving in Israel:
Upon making Aliyah, your driver’s license from your previous country will be valid for the first year. After one year you can no longer drive in Israel, however; you have three years from your date of Aliyah to convert your license. For any specific questions regarding getting a license or license conversion in Israel you can call the Misrad Harishui (Licensing Bureau) at: *5678
Steps to Converting an International License:
1. Obtain a “tofus yarok” (green form). This form can be obtained at most optometrist stores in the mall. Here you will also have your eyes tested by an optician. The cost of the form and the eye test is about 40nis.
2. On the back side of the “tofus yarok” there is a section to be filled out by a family doctor. You will need to make an appointment to see your family doctor to fill out this side of the form.
3. Now that your “tofus yarok” is complete you will need to go to the Misrad Harishui with your tofus yarok, your driving license, and your teudat oleh. Here they will look over your forms and write down on the tofus yarok if you will need to take any extra lessons, the written test, or just the driving test. In most cases, you will only be responsible for taking a driving test, however it is strongly recommended to take at least two practice lessons as you only have two chances to take the driving test.
4. Outside the Misrad Harishui there will be driving teachers who need to recommend you for the driving test. Here you will give them your tofus yarok and a photo copy of your current driving license. They will set up a test date for you and you can also schedule with them to do a lesson.
“Minal Hastudentim” (Student Authority):
The student authority is responsible for providing financial assistance to those eligible. If you are under the age of 27 the minhal hastudentim will provide a scholarship to any student studying a first degree for three years or a second degree for two years.
What to bring to the Minal Hastudentim when applying for assistance:
- high school diploma
- letter of acceptance
- passport photo
- authorization of deferral to the IDF or release papers from the IDF
- t.z. and teudat oleh
Tip: The minal hastudentim only accepts applications until the end of November, so make sure you get yourself there with all the required documents.
Most places in Israel are easy to get to by either bus or train. It is important to know that “autobosim” (buses) and “rekevot” (trains) do not run on Shabbat or holidays and stop running early on Friday evenings and Erev Hag.
Egged: www.egged.co.il *2800
Dan: www.dan.co.il *3456
Metropoline: www.metropline.co.il *5900
Israel Train: www.rail.co.il *5757
Tip: RavKav is a special card that you can get at central bus stations. This card allows you to load money onto the card so that you can ride the trains and buses freely without having to pay each time.
Tip: RavKav offers a variety of discounts for children, students, and senior citizens. There is also a few “hofshei hofshei” (unlimited rides) unlimited ride options, depending on the city.
Tip: On Shabbat and holidays, you can still get around through “monit sherut” (shared taxis). These taxi’s generally have specific routes, but they allow you to stop anywhere on it and are available 24/7.
Tip: If you are in need of a “monit” (taxi), GetTaxi is a great application you can download on your smartphone that allows you to order a taxi in advanced to your current area without having to flag one down or call one up.
Tip: When riding a taxi you can either ask for a fixed price, or “moneh” (taxi meter)