Ladies and Gentlemen, the finest 6 minutes of cinema in the history of …. cinema: “American Oleh trapped in Ulpan Gordon for 7 years.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, the finest 6 minutes of cinema in the history of …. cinema: “American Oleh trapped in Ulpan Gordon for 7 years.”
Last Updated 4/28/2017 at 3:30 PM
Bucks County, Pennsylvania: With Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) right around the corner, Israelis are celebrating another milestone: the 6th Anniversary of Philadelphia-area resident Jeremy S. being “just about to make Aliyah“. Jeremy, a 29-year-old technical writer and musician, has been “like almost ready” to make the return to Zion since attending a Matisyahu concert in April of 2011 “that like really changed the way I look at life“. The Daily Freier spoke with Jeremy about his on-again/off-again longing for Eretz Yisrael.
“So I’m still like super-stoked to do this.” Jeremy explained, as he ate lunch at a hummus place near Cherry Hill. “But at first it was like, Wait. The Army??? I don’t want to peel potatoes for three years. Maybe if I was promised Intelligence or something. But then there’s my Hebrew. And Ulpan just seems super hard and not really like focused on my needs, you know? Like my friend says it’s full of the French and Ukrainians. So maybe when a lot of Americans start to make Aliyah it will be better for me? I would even do a class with some Canadians.”
Jeremy is already on his 3rd Aliyah Counselor, with his first Aliyah counselor rapidly approaching mandatory retirement age. Additionally, half of the people in his original planned Aliyah group have already integrated into society and become so Israeli that in the Spring of 2015 they moved to Berlin for economic reasons.
Jeremy’s Rabbi in suburban Philly has so far written six letters to the Israeli Government attesting to Jeremy’s membership in the Covenant of Abraham. Rabbi Stanley Green, of Congregation Agudath Israel, has become so exasperated with the process that for the latest request he simply took a sheet of Synagogue letterhead and scrawled with a pen “Not again! He’s still Jewish!”
Jeremy’s gutsy almost-decision has affected his family as well. His mom Linda joined us via Skype after we helped explain “what all of the buttons on the computer do” and shared her concerns. “As a parent, you never stop worrying about your kids.” Linda explained. “So with the crazy situation over there in the Middle East, and Jeremy almost sort of moving there, well you can imagine my almost sort of anxiety. I’m just concerned that if Matisyahu’s band or those nice girls in A-WA tour the East Coast again this Summer, that Jeremy might take the next step and schedule another Aliyah appointment in Manhattan with Nefesh B’Nefesh. But I’m pretty sure Nefesh started screening his calls some time in 2014.”
Reaction to Jeremy’s slow-motion-Aliyah within the Greater Tel Aviv Community have been rather mixed. North Tel Aviv resident Mark S. explained. “So he subletted my apartment in July 2015 because he was ‘this close‘ to moving here for good. And at the end he asked if he could leave a bag in my apartment because he was ‘like definitely making Aliyah after the High Holidays.‘ I guess the joke is on me because he didn’t specify the exact year of the High Holidays after which he would make Aliyah. Also I checked the bag last week and it contains parts of a tent, a tea set, a pair of drawstring linen trousers, some old vitamins, and spices from the Shuk.”
While Jeremy remains on the fence in terms of Aliyah, he has not allowed his cold feet to limit his social activism on behalf of the Almost Maybe Possible Future Olim Community. He started a Facebook group called “Keep Almost Olim Almost in Israel” dedicated to the unique needs and issues facing Almost Olim, to include the lack of support provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh for those who have been about to make Aliyah since Obama’s first term. Jeremy is also contemplating going onto Secret Tel Aviv and asking for future free stuff for when he becomes a Lone Soldier.
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
By Chava Ewa
Last Updated 3/1/2017 at 9:30 AM
Ben Gurion Airport: A passport counterfeiting ring based out of the city of Lod was taken down when a supposed recent immigrant (“Oleh Chadash”) exhibited suspicious behavior as he entered Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport after a trip to the United States. Israeli Customs Officer Yael Z. alerted security officials when she noticed something suspicious about a passenger who arrived at her window. “His passport said he was an American Oleh” she said. “So I made my customary joke about having nothing to declare except deodorant and Ziplocs. He didn’t laugh. In fact, he looked confused…it’s like he didn’t know what Ziplocs were. Also, he never complained that Nefesh B’Nefesh wasn’t helping him enough.”
A search of the man’s bags revealed no deodorant, no Ziplocs and documents which identified him as Rami K., a 26-year-old Israeli man born and raised in Lod. Rami explained that the passport he had used was a counterfeit, bought from his brother’s friend Shuki. “My passport expired and I needed to travel to New York for my cousin’s wedding. Well…my cousin’s wedding and to get the new iPhone 7.” Rami explained. “Misrad Hapnim wanted 280 shekels for a passport but I knew that Shuki sells them for 160. Or 150 on Fridays just before Shabbat.”
Shuki was arrested and his counterfeit passport operation was shut down. Rami served 14 days in jail for passport fraud and is still confused about the whole Ziploc thing. “The customs lady was kidding, right??” he asked. “I mean, it’s just freezer bags… people don’t bring those things from America, do they? That’s just ridiculous.”
(TRIGGER WARNING! This article will hurt your feelings.)
By Yuval Weiss
Last Updated 12/6/2016 at 3:30 PM
Ben Gurion Airport, Israel: With the crushing news that in a nation of 300 Million people there is a chance that other people have different ideas than you, America’s progressive Jewish voices have been crying out. The Daily Freier sent its intrepid reporters to the finest Fair-Trade Food Co-Ops in Brooklyn to find out what the deal is.
“This isn’t fair! I just can’t believe how racist Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio are! ” complained Aviva C. as she sifted through gluten-free pretzels. When the Daily Freier noted that each of these states voted for Barack Obama just 4 years ago, she countered “Well maybe it’s like adult-onset racism?”
“That’s it. I’m moving to Israel.” complained Danielle B. “I refuse to live in a country that would let a bombastic womanizing demagogue hold public office.”
Others were more circumspect. “Like part of me wanted to stay and like Resist and stuff but I’m kinda scared.” explained Jesse T. as he set up chairs for tonight’s “#NotMyPresident” poetry slam benefit. “There’s just so much scary stuff. It’s almost as if we need an Amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee each citizen the right to self-defense or something.”
So with things heating up at home, and moving to Canada inexplicably not as easy as cancelling a gym membership, some in today’s Progressive Jewish Community are deciding to move to a country that they aren’t totally keen on but which is legally obligated to take in their tuchuses. So Nefesh B’Nefesh has been a bit busy, and triumphantly announced the arrival of the first plane in what is quickly being dubbed “The Trustafarian Aliyah”. Our intrepid reported Yuval managed to hitch a ride home on the flight, and boy does he have some stories to tell.
The flight almost did not take off after several Olim set off the metal detectors at JFK Airport because of all the safety pins they were wearing to show “that they were allies”. But the flight took off, and once they celiac/vegan/gluten issues with the meals got sorted out, the flight actually went quite smoothly.
But once everyone arrived at Ben Gurion, things really got good. As the newest Israelis worked their way through their in-processing, the lady from the Jewish Agency who prints ‘Teudat Zeut’ National ID Cards reported that her computer had crashed from trying to process all of the hyphenated names and “Native American Spirit Animals” that the Olim insisted be added to their Cards. Additionally, the demand that the ID Cards list preferred pronouns and peanut allergies bogged down the process for several hours. Meanwhile, as the American Olim were being in-processed, a flight of Olim from the Ukraine arrived. Ben K., an actor and artisan beekeeper took the time to explain to a Ukrainian named Sasha that he was also fleeing violence and oppression. Sasha stared at him for a minute without speaking and then wandered off.
The Daily Freier decided to let our newest Israelis get situated, then checked back with the group a few days later. The Madrichim (Counselors) assigned to the team admitted that it was slow-going, but that they had made some progress in explaining that the public bomb shelters and fortified rooms in each building could actually be referred to as “Safe Spaces”. Then we reunited with Jesse from the Food Co-Op, who vented some of his feelings. “So things are alright I guess. But like what’s with all the military stuff? I mean, all these guns everywhere left me feeling… triggered.”
Ulpan Hebrew language classes started yesterday as well. And Danielle from the Food Co-Op is totally not having it. “So what’s with the masculine and feminine nouns? I mean, would you like some hummus with your misogyny? Can’t we changed the Hebrew language?” (EDITOR’S NOTE: We wrote this as a joke…. then we read the Washington Post yesterday.) “And Don’t get me started on the Hebrew word for husband. This is NOT. OK.” When asked if she had a message for her new country, Danielle replied “I just want people here to know that I’m offended by everything.”
On the bright side, things are looking up for Haaretz.
By Mia Deych
Last Updated 11/25/2016 at 4:30 PM
Tel Aviv, Azrieli: “I wanna show the nation my appreciation”: these inspiring words from the famous song by Shaggy will become the slogan of a new community, uniting and bonding grateful clients of Cellcom and Pelephone for slowly turning them into tough Sabras through contracts that are slightly harder to understand than the Gamara, but slightly easier to escape than an Iranian prison.
American Oleh Josh explained to The Daily Freier the unique mandate behind this initiative. “When you come to Israel, young and naive, one of the first errands you have to do is to buy a SIM Card”. Josh took a second to scroll through multiple notifications from WhatsApp and Tinder on his screen. “And then along came our… I would say sages……Israeli mobile operators. I mean the old-school ones – Cellcom and Pelephone”.
Josh showed us his first contract with Cellcom. “I didn’t even know where my name was, so I just signed it. After a month, it turned out that I had to pay 40 shekels more for direct transactions from my bank account and not my credit card (like, what?) and extra money for the SIM-card and stuff. I was livid. I thought they were scamming me for money! But now I understand that all those ostensibly fraudulent schemes are designed to mentor and guide us in the Land of our Forefathers. I really appreciate all the fights at their office that have made me a real (tough!) Israeli”.
Recent British Olah Sarah joined our conversation. “So true! I speak Hebrew, my dad’s Israeli; yet it took me almost a month to cancel my second Pelephone SIM-card for my iPad. Each time I called them, they tried to convince me to ponder my decision and promptly hung up on me, until I finally managed to overcome my Britishness and shout at them. Such a wonderful relief! I still have to pay 300 shekels for the SIM-card, but what an experience that was. Like the time I found out that Hebrew vowels were totally made up just to screw with Olim.”
Cellcom and Pelephone spokespersons have not given their official comments, but in a private conversation, Shlomi from the Cellcom kiosk in Azrieli Center agreed. “Finally our efforts in helping Olim are appreciated. Some Israeli banks are trying to do this job, but they are not as dedicated and consistent as we are. But, gotta say, Kol Kvod for all of Hot Cable’s efforts.”
(Sort of Based on a True Story, so we sort of changed the names! DM us for the real ones!)
By Emily Goldstein and Yuval Weiss
Last Updated 11/22/2016 at 8:00 PM
Tel Aviv, Savidor: Sincere fan of Israel and Israeli life “Alison” is bound and determined to make Aliyah, but as a Gentile in semi-good standing, she faces a very uphill fight. Yet Alison has never let small details get in the way of her goals. In fact, Alison is now on her way to the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’ Nefesh in Jerusalem to plead this case under her very unique reading of the Law of Return, specifically the “hands-on support” she provided to a certain lucky dude in the Israel Defense Force’s Golani Brigade off and on for most of last year. The Daily Freier caught up with Alison at Savidor Bus Terminal as she prepared to take a bus to Jerusalem to present her case.
“I honestly don’t know what the big deal is. I mean I love it here. I really like Passover Seders. I love love love Purim. And besides, Nefesh B’Nefesh already decided to accept your Catholic friend from back home who everyone always thought was kinda Jewish anyway. So there’s like precedent and stuff. Also, I can’t wait to start an Aliyah Blog. Nobody ever does that. It will be unique!”
When the Daily Freier challenged Alison that Aliyah is a difficult task even for Jews and must be supported with documentation, she quickly looked us in the eye and cut us off mid-sentence. “Oh, I’ve earned this. Believe me….. I’ve earned this.”
Meanwhile, the Golani soldier at the center of this case who we’ll call “Yonatan”, could not be reached as he was currently on hardship duty, chaperoning a Birthright trip through the Negev. Yet this case has already had dramatic repercussions beyond Golani to units throughout the IDF. Upon hearing of our heroine Alison’s travails, a spokesperson from the Paratroopers indicated that they have extended Liberty next weekend and will be around Tel Aviv by Thursday….plus they have better boots.
UPDATE: In an unexpected bit of good news, the clerk at the Jewish Agency who received Alison’s application also served in Golani so he fast-tracked her Aliyah package……And Oh by the Way, sent her a very…. personal photo…. via fax.
By Yekutiel Bornstein and Aaron Pomerantz
Last Updated 9/27/2016 at 5:45 PM
Tel Aviv, LaSalle: Today the Daily Freier shares a story of setbacks, the Triumph of the Human Spirit, and an inability to memorize basic verb forms. Now entering his 8th year in Kita Bet, Oleh Not-So-Hadash Jeff S. is still unable to pass the end of course exam, and is thus trapped inside of the Ulpan Gordon Language School in Tel Aviv. The Daily Freier spoke with Jeff during his 10 AM break.
“I don’t know what I’m doing wrong” wondered Jeff. “It just feels like I’m in some sort of rut. I mean, my Hebrew hasn’t really improved since Obama’s first Term, but then again my conversational Russian and French are really getting good!”
Despite Jeff’s failings as a student, the dedicated faculty have not given up on him. When he finally mastered Past Tense Verbs last year, the teachers threw him a party. “It was kind of like a Bar Mitzvah.” explained Ulpan Gordon’s Principal, wiping away tears. “And when he made the Bracha on the wine, he was just as illiterate as he was back in 2009.”
Unable to graduate and thus depart the premises, Jeff survives from day-to-day on the snack bar, occasional birthday cake, and emergency rations from the U.S. Embassy Citizens’ Services Section. Various Birthright tours passing through drop off messages from his family, as well as Hebrew flashcards.
The years of isolation have taken their toll on Jeff. He currently makes cultural reference from the 2000’s Decade, to include “Friendster“, “You’re Fired“, and “The OC“. He is currently unaware of Post-First Generation iPhones. His “Arrested Development” quotes are still funny though.
Jeff has become somewhat of an institution at Ulpan Gordon. His current teacher, Shirli, is in fact the daughter of his first teacher in 2009, Nava. “B’zrat HaShem, some day my granddaughter or grandson will teach him.” mused Nava. Shirli also shared her mother’s affection for Jeff. “He gets along really well with my family. My five-year old Uri adores him. But lately, Uri’s been expanding his vocabulary and finds their conversations somewhat limited and a bit boring.”
In addition to Jeff’s friendships with the faculty, he has managed to maintain somewhat of a social life as well. In 2010, Jeff dated, married, and got divorced from a French Olah in his class. Nava explained the situation to us. “We held the reception in the auditorium. We had soda, cake, and a slide show. It was actually quite tasteful.” In order to get all sides of the story, the Daily Freier contacted Joane, Jeff’s ex. “I really enjoyed class with Jeff. But he was never there for me to help around the house.” explained Joane.
Many people wonder just how this tragedy has been allowed to go on so long. The Daily Freier contacted the Misrad HaKlitah (Ministry of Absorbtion) to find out. “Normally, recent immigrants are only granted 5 months of free Hebrew lessons.” explained Uzi, from the Front Desk. “But we really just want to see where this ends up. So every 5 months we extend his benefits. We actually have a bit of a betting pool going.” Uzi then lowered his voice to a whisper and leaned in closer to us. “By the way, just curious, but when you saw him, was he able to name all of the Hebrew Vowels yet?”
The Daily Freier then contacted Nefesh B’Nefesh to demand answers on how they allowed this situation to continue. A Dati Leumi woman from their Jerusalem Office named BatSheva or Elisheva or JustSheva answered our phone call. “Whenever an Oleh from North America stays here more than six months without moving back, we consider this a win. So he’s really good for our statistics.”
UPDATE: The IDF mounted a clandestine operation this evening to rescue Jeff from Ulpan Gordon, as they have a Squad Leader position in their Olah Hadashah Code Talker Unit that needs to be filled.