Geveret Bubbly Meets a Suspicious Olah

“You’re too _____________ (FILL IN THE BLANK WITH “American/Canadian/uptight/awkward in Israeli society/etc.).” This is a phrase that pushes insecurity buttons for many Anglos. Whether we came to Israel temporarily or on aliyah, in the process we’ve often left behind loved ones, homes and professions, and most of us try very hard to fit in to this bubbling multi-flavored stew of a society. Yet sometimes it doesn’t hurt to hang on to a little Anglo reserve … especially because we’re dealing with an unfamiliar culture and language.


A few months ago, I answered my door to a smiling Israeli woman whom I had never met. She greeted me effusively.

“Shalom, motek! I just bought the apartment in this building!”

Well, I knew that there was a place for sale and assumed that’s what she was talking about.

“So tell me,” she continued with a warm smile, “are you an owner or a tenant?”

Wanting to get off on the right foot with this new neighbor-to-be, I answered her civilly. But her subsequent question made me uneasy: “How many people living here own their apartments and how many rent?” followed up with “How much did you pay for your apartment?”

I started to hem and haw. She was bypassing my comfort zone in a big way. However, she wasn’t discouraged and blithely went on to say, “I just want to see how other people in the building have fixed up their apartments” – as she attempted to walk over the threshold and into my home.

Time for a good old fashioned Canadian hockey style body check. Call me uptight, but I have a strict rule: I don’t let anyone into my apartment unless I know their name or business, preferably both.

“Sorry, but no,” I told the woman who was acting as if she was my long-lost best friend.

“But I already looked at your apartment when you had it for sale!” she protested. That really activated the warning bells in my head – I have never put my place on the market since I moved in. Still, she could have been mistaken, I thought. After all, these apartments all look alike.

So I used my all-purpose (true) excuse. “I have to get back to work. Kol tuv,” I said, as I gently closed the door.


Yes, I felt rude, wrong and guilty about my North American style suspiciousness at the time. Quite a few months have passed since then, though, with no further sign of Geveret Bubbly. The apartment she claimed to have bought is still standing empty. And I’m feeling a whole lot better about hanging on to that little part of me that is still too … well, you know.


Editor’s note:  Do you have an Israeli Army story — or other personal story of life in Israel — that you would like to share with us? We are always interested in stories that will inform, uplift and inspire our readers. Of course, we reserve the sole right to publish or not, and to edit before publishing. Please submit your story, preferably including (non-copyright) photos as well, to forward to hearing from you!

AACI is the home for English Speakers in Israel with offices in Jerusalem, Netanya, Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva and Haifa.
AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2 (across from Hadar Mall) Talpiot, Jerusalem
Buses # 10, 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.
(02) 566-1181 for more information about any programs or to register.

Sneak Preview of Photos from Children’s and Teen’s Art Show – With Brush and Pen – April 11 2013

Last Thursday, April 11th AACI hosted the premiere of the 3rd Annual Children’s and Teen’s Art Show, with “Brush and Pen” thanks to a generous contribution by former AACI President, Gordon Sugarman (Betsy Sugarman ז”ל Memorial Fund) in memory of his beloved wife, Betsy z’l.

Kol HaKavod to all the kids and teens who participated…and their families…and of course, our beloved staff and volunteers who made this event happen!

In addition, Dr. Max & Gianna Glassman, whose generous gift has allowed us to thrive in our new facility in Talpiot were present and Dr. Max addressed the assembled crowd and Gianna assisted in the presentation of awards.

To say it was an amazing night barely describes the excitement, joy, enthusiasm and talent that we witnessed in a standing room only crowd.

We shot lots of photographs and even some video. The photos are up on our facebook page (please like us if you have not already done so) and even if you do not use facebook ordinarily, you can view them here.

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Here are just a few of the beautiful examples of talent demonstrated by our young artists. Please come to AACI-Dr. Max & Gianna Glassman Family Center to view the art and prose that is on display. And visit us on facebook to tag your work and photos of you.

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Enjoy the photos and please tag them and share them with your friends and family, and if you have more photos to add, please let us know so we can include your photos too.

Stay tuned for more to come… video, and photos of the entries.

If you are not already getting the AACI e-newsletter, sign up here so that you will be informed about other great events for the whole family happening at AACI.

Plans are already in the works for a great July 4th/Canada Day Celebration and you will surely want to join in for lots of fun!

If you would like to share in the excitement by sponsoring an event like this, or one that would be meaningful to a person you would like to remember or honor, please contact Bryna Lee at 02-566-1181 ext. 324 or bjacobson at aacidotorgdotil.

AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center
Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2 (across from Hadar Mall)
Talpiot, Jerusalem
Buses # 10, 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.
(02) 566-1181 for more information about any programs or to register.

Preparing for an emergency

Special Guest Post by our own David London, Executive Director. And this time, I can safely say that the opinions expressed in this guest post DO reflect the opinions and policies of the AACI, The Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, serving English speakers from countries all over the world for over 60 years who have decided to make Israel their home!

And now, without further ado, a few words from David London, as it appeared in the Jerusalem Post.

As we know, life in Israel can be fraught with challenges. That is why AACI has been caring for and supporting Israel’s English-speaking community for over 60 years. In today’s Jerusalem Post (page 7), you will see the first in a series of articles reprinting the latest AACI Emergency Handbook.

Making aliyah, living in Israel and being part of Israeli society is, for most of us, the ultimate expression of our Zionism and Judaism. We should be proud that we have made our homes here and have raised our children here.

We live in a vibrant and vital society where life is never boring.

I made aliyah 22 years ago with my wife and year-old son – immediately after the Gulf War. Over the years three additional children – two boys and one girl (in that order) – were added to our family.

My oldest is finishing his third year of compulsory military service and the others are on the way to serving; thus, one of my children will be serving in the IDF for the next 10 years.

After over 20 years of living in Israel and having worked intensively on the production of the AACI Emergency Handbook in English, I should have been well prepared when the sirens went off in Jerusalem and its environs for the first time last Friday evening. However, I initially froze, like everyone else. Then, after that initial fright, I immediately took action and found a safer location and immediately gathered the frightened and skeptical around me.

Only after we heard the explosions of the Grads did everyone understand that this war was also on our doorsteps.

When I returned home and calmed down my family, my wife complained to me that everyone else had an Emergency Handbook but the family of the director of AACI did not. Obviously, it was because I was focused on getting the handbooks mailed out to all the members of the AACI family, country-wide.

For those who are not members I encourage you to join. However, we have made a free on-line edition that you can find at the websites of the AACI or The Jerusalem Post.

New immigrants always ask when they will become real Israelis. My answer (as well as that of AACI) is that “aliyah never stops.” No matter when you made aliya or how long you have been here, we will always be olim (immigrants) even if we speak perfect Hebrew. I know that when dealing with major issues such as health, finances or, in this case, security I prefer my information in English.

Even when the issue is not life-threatening, many of us prefer their information in English.

For over 60 years AACI has been providing information in English. Information is power, and AACI works hard to provide the latest and most up-to-date information in every area – health, housing, schooling and higher education, employment, military service, finances, tax reporting requirements, voting in Israel and abroad. This material is gathered by AACI’s amazing professional aliyah, klitah and employment counselors, assisted by volunteer experts. We are proud that we offer our services in all of Israel’s major cities; Beersheba, Haifa, Netanya, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

You will find our branches filled with a small, dedicated and professional staff and thousands of wonderful volunteers.

Our volunteers are great and they are there to help no matter your gender, religious or political beliefs or where you live. We believe that the English-speaking community deserves an address to turn to. That place is AACI.

In times of national emergency or just everyday living, AACI is your home and provides that safety net when things don’t go right. I encourage all of you to join AACI and be part of our community.

Our hope and prayers are that you will only read AACI’s Emergency Handbook as anecdotal material and never have to put the recommendations into actual use. May the whole house of Israel return to a somewhat quieter existence, and may the next big lights we see be in our homes during Hanukka.

sample page:

Download the handbook at

Editor’s note:  Do you have an Israeli Army story — or other personal story of life in Israel — that you would like to share with us? We are always interested in stories that will inform, uplift and inspire our readers. Of course, we reserve the sole right to publish or not, and to edit before publishing. Please submit your story, preferably including (non-copyright) photos as well, to forward to hearing from you!

AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center
Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2 (across from Hadar Mall)
Talpiot, Jerusalem
Buses # 10, 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop  at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.
(02) 566-1181 for more information about any programs or to register.

Expo Klita 2012: Back for a Second Year

Hear ye! Hear ye! Olim both chadashim and vatikim (how’s that for a lovely example of Heblish – Hebrew mixed with English?)!

Whether you have been in Israel a year or two or twenty, there is always something new to learn: about housing, jobs, health care, education, you name it. In fact, at times the sheer volume of information you need can be overwhelming, as you rush from one office to another, asking questions in your less-than-perfect Hebrew.

Wouldn’t it be great if all this information were gathered together under one roof, and available to you in English? Well, at Expo Klita 2012 you will find exactly that!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012, from noon until 8 PM is the date and Binyanei Ha’uma (the National Convention Center, across from the Central Bus Station) is the place.

Meet experts and see presentations on topics ranging from taking a mortgage on a home in Israel to buying a car, in English, the language you are probably most comfortable with.  Featuring incredible offers and discounts as well, this is a “don’t miss” occasion. Admission is free and childcare for ages 3 to 9 will be available on site.

As one of the co-sponsors of this second annual event, we at AACI are hoping to repeat last year’s success. Stop by our booth to say hi and meet some of our friendly employees. Don’t forget to bring your questions 🙂

Looking forward to seeing you!

For more information about Expo Klita 2012, please contact:

Einav 02-625-2933 OR

Liat 050-253-3315

To register for the Expo, click here.

AACI has worked with IMP Media to arrange subsidized buses for your convenience, from the following locations:
Tel Aviv              Haifa/Zichron Ya’acov                Netanya 
and  for the Beer Sheva bus and Tiyul, please email: Tamar Iancu at
Please go to for more details.

For more information about AACI’s services and programs for English speakers in Israel:

(02)566-1181 OR stop by:

AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center, Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2, Talpiot    MAP

Buses # 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop  at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.

P as in Protekzia: AACI’s Navigational Series

The concept behind AACI’s popular Navigational Series is simple: putting those of us who don’t know together with someone who does. Both aliyah and what comes after – daily life in Israel – are quite challenging. All of us, no matter how long we have been in this country, still have many new things to learn. (TRUE STORY: Although I have lived in Israel for 20 years, I just found out a way to save money on my health care payments from someone who made aliyah last Tuesday.) Dealing with bureaucracy and solving problems require not only time, energy and money, but often something more.

The missing ingredient is what is referred to as Vitamin P, P as in protekzia, which can be defined as connections, pull, knowing the right people and the right procedure. Problem is, most of us olim haven’t got it. We are often somewhat isolated, without a solid grasp of the language or the strong family ties so important to native Israelis. Like the simple son in the Passover haggadah, we don’t know who or even what to ask.

That’s where AACI’s navigational series comes in.  It is a series of talks by English-speaking experts in fields such as housing, health care, banking, education, insurance, American citizenship/Social Security and much more. The subjects, which are generally repeated from year to year, stem from the questions most commonly asked by callers to AACI’s counseling hotline. (For short aliyah-related inquiries, call 02-566-1181 Sunday through Thursday from 12:15 to 1:15 PM.)  

Counselor Sheila Bauman, finding that the same topics came up again and again, decided that having those questions addressed in detail, by an experienced professional, would be   a great way to reach large numbers of olim.

And the response has been extremely positive. The lectures are well attended, by English speakers of a wide assortment of ages. Although each lecturer is a professional businessperson, they are donating their services and the purpose of the evening is not promotional, but informational.  The speaker tries to address the concerns of every person in the room. Sheila makes the impressive statement that no one leaves with his or her questions unanswered, whether in the public forum, or by speaking privately with the lecturer after the talk. And, knowing how many questions we puzzled Anglos can come up with, that is saying a lot.

Watch for the next Navigational Lecture on Monday, June 4, at 7 PM. Advocate Deanna Fein will discuss “Housing Contracts: Rental & Purchase.”

All Navigational Lectures take place at the AACI Jerusalem Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center. Cost is NIS 15 for AACI members/NIS 20 for non-members.  Please call 02-566-1181 to register.

AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center, Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2, Talpiot    MAP
Buses # 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop  at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.

Reflections — Four Artists View Their Worlds

by guest contributor Laura Firszt

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Entering AACI’s new offices is a pleasant surprise – the premises feel bright and functional but not sterile. The walls are enhanced with the colorful works of four exciting Israeli artists. The impression is of visiting different areas of our country; the widely varied styles of the artists seem to reflect the variety of landscapes and people in Israel.

Shoshana Meerkin’s watercolors delicately depict light and shade. Many of her paintings embody a theme of Israeli doors and windows, often partly open, inviting the viewer to imagine what lies beyond. Similarly, in “Let’s Go There,” two elderly women sit on a seaside bench, backs to the viewer. Despite their relaxed pose, their attention to the sun-dappled boats in front of them creates a sense of forward motion and thought.

The rich bright colors of Ruth Gesser’s oil paintings portray the almost jungle-like exuberance of Israeli gardens. Her watercolors seem drenched in the intense sunlight that is so characteristic of summer in this country. A versatile artist, she also combines watercolors and watercolor pastels to create intriguing semi-abstract works.

Ruth Keusch uses oils to create paintings of human figures or flowers with strong, almost harsh lines. In true Israeli fashion, she is rigorously honest, yet sympathetic, in her interaction with her subjects. As well, she produces earthy sculptures. In the words of one of the viewers of her exhibit: “Exciting!”

Esther Weiser Kreisman combines her traditional art school background with modern technology to produce big bold “urban landscapes.” Photographs of a scene at various times of day are melded to create paintings that are alive with motion and energy, from the lighthearted, bright “Coca Cola Beach Tel Aviv,” to the fluid familiar/unfamiliar feeling given by “Jerusalem 2008.”

Many of the original paintings, as well as posters and giclee reproductions, are for sale. A percentage of all sales will be donated to the AACI.

The works will be on display until February 15, 2012 and are open to the public free of charge during AACI’s opening hours: Sunday-Thursday 8:30 am – 5:30 pm and some evenings.

A gallery talk from 6-8 pm this Sunday, January 22nd, will allow art lovers to hear the artists discuss their works and their creative process, followed by a question period.

Phone 02-5661181 for hours and directions or check our website:
A new exhibit is presented approximately every six weeks, making the works of contemporary Israeli artists easily accessible to the general public.

Welcome to our newest guest Blogger, Laura Firszt. We hope to be reading lots more from Laura on a regular basis.

An Inside Window on AACI

I have been a part of AACI since making aliyah to Israel in 1977. When working full time and raising a family, I didn’t have time to take advantage of many of the programs offered. But a notice in a recent AACI e-report caught my eye. I read that AACI is looking for people interested in writing for its blog. I decided that perhaps this is a way for me to finally give back and contribute to this vital organization.

There is plenty of information available in AACI newsletters, e-reports and on the website about the breadth of activities taking place weekly. My goal in this blog is to go behind the scenes and take a peek at the people who make the organization what it is: members, volunteers, participants and professional staff. I want to find out who and what makes the organization so successful in helping English-speaking immigrants and veterans acclimate to Israeli life.

So where does one begin when the menu of people and activities is so extensive? I chose to start at the very beginning—finding out who is involved in helping those who have just made aliyah or are thinking of doing so. This week I had the pleasure of meeting Sheila Bauman, AACI’s Jerusalem counselor for Aliyah and Klitah.

If I had to describe Sheila in one phrase, I’d say “a live Google aliyah and klitah search engine”. Just ask Sheila a question and she’ll come up with the answer within minutes (if not seconds) using her impressive memory, extensive data base of up-to-date information found in binders on shelves in her office, or by checking her personal telephone book, filled with important names and numbers. Sheila has her “special friends” in the Ministry of Absorption, Ministry of the Interior, US Consulate, Bituach Leumi offices, every health fund organization…you name it! She knows just where to turn to get the precise information needed.

Sheila’s approach is pragmatic and rational. She never tells a client what to do, but instead chooses to guide them by explaining the facts and the consequences of each choice. Sheila runs a daily “Hot Line” where anyone can call and ask a question or seek her guidance. When asked what topics people inquire about the most, I was bombarded with a list that includes everything from US social security clarification, driving in Israel, legal advice, status and citizenship issues, recommended retirement homes, kids at risk programs, loans, mortgage information, finding schools, bringing pets to Israel and has even been asked to recommend a dog walker and to supply names of shadchanim (matchmakers). You can make an appointment to see Sheila during drop-in hours in Jerusalem or by telephone on her “Hot Line”, Sunday to Thursday from 12:15-1:15 pm (tel.: 02-566-1181).

Sheila also organizes AACI’s pre-aliyah and post-aliyah information sessions. Pre-aliyah seminars provide potential olim with information in advance to help make their aliyah a success. Topics include immigrant rights, Israeli health care, education, housing, shipping, job-hunting and more. In Post-Aliyah sessions, Sheila provides both new and seasoned immigrants with up to date information on Bituach Leumi, Israeli tax laws, choosing the most appropriate health fund to fit one’s needs, finding a suitable neighborhood, rental contracts, information on buying homes, employment, banking, etc. I have been told that Sheila possesses the uncanny ability to answer questions that people didn’t even know they needed to ask. (The next Pre-aliyah sessions will take place on Oct. 4 and 11 from 2:00-3:45 pm, a Pre-aliyah session specially for seniors on Oct. 12 from 10:00-11:45 am) and a Post aliyah session on Oct. 27 from 2:00-3:45 pm. Call 02-566-1181 to sign up.)

Sheila works closely with Yanina Musnikow in the AACI Tel Aviv office (tel: 03-6960389) and Miriam Green in the southern branch in Beer Sheva (08-643-3953). Sheila describes Yanina and Miriam as “fantastic colleagues”. The three counselors work as a team and are committed to making the aliyah and klitah process go as smoothly as possible.

Now for an exciting announcement: Beginning October 7, Sheila will be a regular guest on the Netty Feldman “Afternoon Shmooze” show on Rusty Mike Radio, aired every Thursday at 2:30 pm. Sheila’s segment, entitled “Makin’ It”, will discuss a variety of issues relating to aliyah and klitah. I’m sure even seasoned veterans will learn new, helpful information from listening to Sheila. I know I did.

By Judy Dvorak Gray