Getting to Know Us … An Interview with David London

David London at opening of AACI-Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center – March 2010

by Irv Cantor, Volunteer

What is management all about? Lorne Michaels, the producer of Saturday Night Live, summarized it well when he said, “The show does not go on because it’s ready. The show goes on because it’s 11:30.” Management makes sure commitments are met, expectations fulfilled. For David London, the commitment is not just on a brochure, it is in his heart. The following is a summary of an interview with David, in his office on November 25, 2013.

David, thank you for agreeing to this interview and for letting us give our blog readers a chance to get better acquainted with you.

For starters, how did you come to AACI? What were you doing beforehand?

I made aliyah with my family in 1991. Before then, I was the director for Young Judea in the southeastern United States. In those days, there was no such thing as having a job in Israel before you made aliyah, and people didn’t commute for work overseas while in Israel. My aliyah shaliach said you take the first job you can take, because they don’t really think you are here until you have a job. We moved to a merkaz klitah (absorption center), and in those days, there were barely pay phones, cell phones, and certainly no email.

Was aliyah something you and your wife had been thinking about for a while?

My wife and I had each spent our freshman year of college in Israel on separate programs. We did not know each other then, but we both loved Israel and wanted to come back.

When we eventually made aliyah, I went to ulpan, and my class was made up of all Ethiopians and me. So if I missed class, it was kind of obvious. I needed a job, a simple eight-to-four type of job. I saw a job advertised for AACI, the lowest level job, a kind of “gofer”. They liked my background and they hired me. I found a wonderful home at AACI, but to be honest, I could not afford to work there. I was offered a job at USY (United Synagogue Youth) to work for just six weeks in the summer. The pay was excellent and included a free plane ticket to America. So I approached AACI about leaving, and they proposed finding a replacement for the six week absence, but continuing at AACI for the rest of the time. And we were able to work that out. For the next two years I was given different coordinator roles. I used to joke that every time I wanted to leave they would promote me.

After some time, I became the National Program Coordinator. When AACI eliminated that position, I became the AACI Director in Haifa. Although we had a number of wonderful friends there, it was too city-ish for us and our kids. And that feeling also made us think about my leaving AACI. We moved to Beit Shemesh. When the Director positions in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem opened up, I decided to take the Tel Aviv position and was there for a number of years. Subsequently, I took on a co-administrator position for the entire organization in the National Office in Jerusalem.

In 1999, the Israeli economy was not doing well, and AACI was informed of a large cut in funding from the Jewish Agency. The high tech sector was doing well; I was offered a position at Intel, and I took it. They were specifically looking for people with no technical background. The idea was to bring in new thinking, to break out of the merubah (square) thinking typical of engineers. There were 14 of us, and we went through a six-month university-type training before being put in administrative positions. As good as the position and compensation were, I quickly realized it was not for me. I am a Zionist in my blood, in my DNA. I like helping the Jewish world. I was unhappy, but stayed there because of the poor economy, and I did some volunteering at AACI. Until one day in 2001, when I got a call from AACI about the Director position in Jerusalem. They thought I would not be interested, but I was very interested. I later became the Executive Director.

Let’s turn to something more current and more specific. Can you describe what a typical day is like for you?

A typical day for me usually starts in the office at 7:30. I boot up my computer and try to take advantage of that quiet time to plow through my email.

You know, in a global volunteer organization, you don’t work from eight to four. If you’re up at two in the morning, you will very likely find someone else immediately responding to your email or sending you messages.

My schedule is often filled with meetings, but I need to find time to do other work as well. Often meetings start the discussion about an issue, but it is the follow up work that resolves the matter. Most staff arrives around eight. Around 8:30 our front desk volunteers come in. They are lovely people, some of whom have been with us for over ten years. I always like to go out and say hello to the front desk volunteers.

A normal day ends around six.

Do you travel much? 

Executive Director of AACI

Executive Director of AACI

There are two levels – I try to visit the main branches at Netanya, Beer Sheva and Tel Aviv, but I would like to spend more time there. We can do much on the phone or by email, but it doesn’t replace being there.

I travel on some of the AACI tours. We are very proud of the AACI Kosher & Fun Travel program that we have developed. The program serves as a gateway to acquiring new members. Very often people come on the trip knowing little about AACI, but they make friends, have a great time, and learn about us on the trip and end up using our counseling services and enjoying our other programs after the trip.

I think there’s a different mentality when you are an Israeli or when Israel is in the center of your heart which people often say to me. Very often English speakers from the US, Britain Australia etc. join an AACI trip and see the power of this kind of mindset, that we’re all very proud about being Jewish and Israeli. That it is in our DNA; that it is not just going on a trip, it is going on a Zionistic trip. We don’t go around waving an Israeli flag, but we are proud of who we are, we have made a decision. And it is also wonderful because we are a heterogeneous group with various levels of religious observance. What ties us together is that we want to have a carefree travel experience with English-speakers as leaders, companions, and tour guides.

More generally, AACI is an excellent meeting ground for the religious and the secular and everything in between to come together. And I like that. Focusing on what we have in common is amazing. In Israel, where so much is categorized and separated, our goal is to bring people together and to look at a person as a human being.

What skill sets do you have that you value the most for your effectiveness in your job?

I strive to make meaningful connections with people. In my job, I have to talk to different people about different ongoing issues, I have to plan programs and sometimes accompany them. I think the modern world requires multi-tasking and this is one of my strengths.

Was there a specific event or experience over the last few months that was especially rewarding?

I’ve held many positions at AACI, but the one position I never held, and the one I really wanted to have, was to be an Aliyah and Klitah counselor. To have the opportunity to help someone who is going through a difficult period; that is what it is all about. Everything we are doing to help with klitah (absorption) and help olim feel at home is well and good, but to help with a specific problem “hands-on” is truly rewarding and something I do not get to do too often. Every now and then I get to help an individual, and when that happens, I cannot tell you how good I feel.

Is there any part of the job you would describe as fun?

It’s fun for me when I see projects or events come together successfully. When I participate on a trip, when the trip ends and people had a good time, then I can look back on the trip as having been fun. During the trip, before the event, the work is very hard. But when we achieve the success, then all the work transforms to having been fun.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The toughest part is the financial end. We are blessed to have access to an amazing amount of ingenuity, talent and hard work both from our staff and our fabulous volunteers. But ultimately, it takes money to keep the doors open and to continue to meet the needs of our members. It is always hard to ask for donations, but that is something we must continue to do, every day.

It is a very difficult financial world; it is hard to get donations. I am not always good at it, and it is a challenge to ask for personal donations, solicitations, trying to figure out what will inspire a person to involve themselves with AACI and open their wallet so that our programs continue to serve everyone because we care about everyone. We don’t run campaigns for specific causes or groups, which sometimes seem more attractive to sponsors. Our goals and programs are important to thousands of English speakers every day, and we have to deliver a strong message that will compel people to act.

Can you describe the mission of AACI, in just a few words?

AACI represents the interests of English-speakers in Israel, with a tremendous responsibility of representing our entire community, and being many things to many people. We are part of this great mission of bringing all Jews home to Israel. And we know that aliyah never stops! It’s not just about making aliyah; it is about making Israel our home! And that requires the ongoing support and friendship that AACI is famous for providing. It is crucial to help olim during those initial weeks, months and years, and yet still be here when circumstances change. Help, information and friendship can still be needed years later.

You said before that funding is one of your biggest challenges. How is AACI funded?

At one time we used to receive a million dollars from the Jewish Agency. Now we receive nothing from the Agency. We have a budget of about $1.2 or $1.3 million. We are not a large non-profit. We receive about ten percent of our income from donations. We receive about 50 percent from all of our programs, including our travel program. The rest comes from advertising and some special programs.

Let’s turn 180 degrees and get personal. What are your hobbies?

London family photo

I’ve always loved cars. I own only one car now, but I used to do some repairs on cars and love reading about them. It’s a tough topic for living in Israel – I have not owned a new car since making aliyah.

To be honest, I don’t have time to invest in a serious hobby. I have four children, the oldest was recently married. The oldest is 23 and the youngest 14. My involvement with my family is non-stop. What I really need to do is join a gym.

Let’s consider the path you did not take. If you could go back to school now, what would you study?

My wife says I am a frustrated social worker. I love boxing, and when I was young I did some amateur boxing. But I was too slow to go far with that. And I do not have a good voice, so being a rock and roll star was not a possibility (laughing).

I would like to turn from the past and look to the future. What broad goals do you have for AACI? What is your vision, five years from now, ten years?

We provide service to the English-speaking community, and I think we can be much more. The medical area is a whole area that we can address. I am very proud of taking on the Shira Pransky Project whose purpose is to provide information, at this stage; to translate all materials related to medical services. We have the potential to do much more than medical services, but we are focusing on that first because, we would all agree, people should not misunderstand their rights in such a critical area. The project is going to translate all information currently in Hebrew. Our community often does not know its rights. Even Israelis, who know Hebrew fluently, often do not know their rights and benefits. So a web site has been developed called Kol zchut (Rights) that has that information, all in one place.

I would like to return to the issue of a very divided Israel. Unfortunately, it even penetrates into chesed organizations that do not want to help people who are not like the people in the organization. By having a platform at AACI that services everyone, it enables people to come together. When I was working with Young Judea in the United States, we always talked about the idea of doogma eesheet (personal example). We wanted to set the example of people pushing together toward a common goal.

Let me give you an amazing example. AACI had a trip to Russia around the time when the changes in that country were coming to a close. There was no Chabad or kosher food in those days. People could bring their own food, eat the provided food or eat vegetarian. I was Director of the Jerusalem branch at the time that several of these trips took place. The Board received a complaint from a group of members threatening to resign because AACI was sponsoring non-kosher trips. The Board took a vote that demonstrated the compassion and empathy that we had for each other. All non-Orthodox Board members voted to cancel the trip. All Orthodox Board members voted to have the trip. I was sitting there in amazement. I was so impressed with the mutual respect shown and the ability to think and feel outside the usual boxed-in categories.

Glassman center frontage 270 tallLast question: What do you want your AACI legacy to be?

When I leave I want to be remembered for making AACI an interesting place and a welcoming place that accepts everyone. I will be proud of having brought us back from a financial crisis to a position of greater strength. Finally, the move from our old Jerusalem facility to our new one here, filled with bustling activity, has been a significant improvement. All of these things were done with the assistance of remarkable workers and volunteers. They turned visions into realities, and I am confident we will continue on this path in the future.

David, thank you for your time and for sharing so much with the AACI membership and all of our readers.

AACI is the home for English Speakers in Israel with offices in

Jerusalem, Netanya, Tel AvivBeer 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.

Live from Jerusalem! It’s Avraham Avinu!

So by now, if you are a member of AACI, you have received a letter in the mail. And if you receive our free enewsletter, or if you are like us on facebook, or follow us on twitter, then you may know that Avraham Avinu was recently sighted in our Jerusalem office in Talpiot.

Here are some highlights of his visit.

Please like and share the video. And of course, you can donate by clicking here.

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.

Beer Sheva, past, present, and this summer!

UPDATE – A fun time was had by all. And we have photos to prove it!

Check them out! click on the link. Thanks to Matt Polani!

You are invited on Thursday, July 18th to experience Beer Sheva for yourself…

On Thursday, July 18 the Southern Region of AACI is hosting a gala Summer Picnic. We invite everyone across the country, new olim and vatikim, Israelis and non-Israelis, families and singles, to come and experience Beer Sheva, to glory in our past, to enjoy our modern beautiful present, and, in addition, to meet our wonderful community.

Our picnic will take place from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM in the large public park in the Heh neighborhood and will feature clowns, balloons, crafts for the kids, jumping castles, cotton candy, great music, and other surprises!. In addition, we are planning a small crafts fair of Negev art.

When you plan your summer vacation, plan on spending Thursday, July 18 in Beer Sheva. We look forward to having you!

For more information, contact me at

Years ago, when my husband and I were dating and things became serious, he told me that if we were to get married, we’d have to move from Jerusalem – where we were then living – to either Haifa in the north, or Beer Sheva in the south. He wouldn’t be able to make a good enough living to support a family as an engineer in the center of the country, but both north and south had excellent potential. This was back in the dark ages, when Google wasn’t even a glint in Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s eyes (and quite possibly Messrs Page and Brin might have been only slightly more than a glint in their fathers’ eyes), so I could only make an informative decision by asking around.

Not exactly scientific.

Nonetheless, somehow and for reasons that totally escape me today, we decided on Beer Sheva. My to-be husband sent out a bunch of resumes, got a few job offers, and three weeks after we were married, we moved to a dusty, quiet, and very hot town. I spent much of that moving day hiding my tears from my new husband. He never suspected that I had hoped and hoped that something would happen and we wouldn’t have to move to this hole in the middle of the desert.

Beer Sheva 1917

Beer Sheva 1917

I knew absolutely nobody in the city. I had visited only once before, years before, on a trip to the Negev. (I vaguely remembered walking back to the hostel and being accosted by Beer Sheva’s best, what was then called pushtakim or punks.) The weather was dreadful. The streets were covered in donkey poop. Dust covered everything. Truly, I didn’t want to be there.

30 hours after we first arrived in Beer Sheva, Shabbat also arrived. We went to shul, and almost immediately, everything began to change. I met warm, welcoming, and gracious people who invited us over for Shabbat meals, and offered to take us around and show us the town.

So, when my husband started working, and before I found work (three weeks later) I was not quite as traumatized as I had been and I took the opportunity to walk around town. At that time, Beer Sheva was still small enough that you could walk just about anywhere. It was then that the magic of Beer Sheva began to percolate into my bones.

In the 28 years that have passed since that fateful decision and my first tearful days in Beer Sheva, much has changed here. The city has grown from a large town of 60,000 to a big city of 205,000. The University has grown from less than 5000 students to over 18,000. And, unlike in 1985, there are now more shopping malls than sheep in the city. As a matter of fact, months can go by before I see a sheep or donkey. (In 1985, the Bedouin lady who rode her donkey down my street nodded to me daily.)

Yet, the magic has never worn off. Indeed, the city, to me, has become ever more entrancing. Here are some facts that few are aware of:

1. Beer Sheva is not just one of the oldest cities in the world, it is also the first Jewish city in history. 4000 years before Tel Aviv was built, Avraham Avinu planted the first Tamarisk Tree (Eitz Eshel) here, thereby establishing a Jewish city in the south part of the Land of Israel. All three of our forefathers lived here, giving the city the nickname Ir HaAvot – city of the Fathers. Today, at the edge of the old city, is ‘Be’er Avraham’, which claims to house the original well that was dug by Abraham. Of course, it isn’t the well, just a well; one of hundreds that were dug in the area over the millennia. A few years ago, Be’er Avraham was closed to the public and refurbished. It opens this summer as a museum of the history of Beer Sheva since the time of Abraham.

Beer Avraham

Beer Avraham

A Tamarisk tree is on the municipal flag and the trees can still be found around town.

Beer Sheva flag

Beer Sheva flag

Tamarisk tree

Tamarisk tree

2. Beer Sheva has some of the most comprehensive Byzantine ruins in the world. The Byzantines settled in the area to ward off attacks by the Nabateans, who controlled the spice route from Gaza to Arabia. Recently, an entire town was unveiled during the construction of the new bus station, and the ruins can be seen under the floor of the new station. I would venture to say that Beer Sheva is the only city in the world with a Byzantine city under its bus station on view through a glass floor.

Governor's house

Governor’s house

Beer Sheva boasts the largest number of Ottoman-era buildings in Israel. From the Governors House, to an early 20th century Mosque, to a school for the children of Bedouin Sheiks, to the train station (complete with an early 19th century train that traveled from Constantinople to Cairo – better known as the Orient Express), and other assorted residences and structures, these unique buildings have recently been restored and reopened to the public—each for a different purpose. The school is now a science museum, the Governor’s House is an art museum. The Mosque houses the history of Beer Sheva from Ottoman times to the present. Other buildings have become restaurants, shops, and art galleries.

Turkish Railway Station

Turkish Railway Station for the Orient Express

After the Ottomans, came the British Mandate, and dozens of Mandate-era buildings dot the city. The most magical (to me) of the remnants of the Mandate, however, is the British War Cemetery. Set off of what is today a busy thoroughfare, the cemetery is an oasis of quiet and, ironically, one of the most peaceful and green areas in the city. Buried here are the soldiers of the Commonwealth (mostly Australians and New Zealanders) who died in the Battle for Beer Sheva, led by General Edmund Allenby. Just down the street from the cemetery, is a small park dedicated to Allenby’s memory. It was the first park built in the city, just after the war.

Allenby Park

Allenby Park

British War Cemetery

British War Cemetery

Moving along in historical architecture is the “Brutalism” style adopted in the new city shortly after the War of Independence. Searching for a way to quickly house the refugees from Northern Africa after independence, Israeli architectures settled on Brutalism, which is not nearly as harsh as the name. Like Tel Aviv is known for its Bauhaus buildings, Beer Sheva is now known for its Brutalism.
But if Brutalism doesn’t do it for you (it doesn’t for me to tell the truth), the glorious fountains that our mayor has scattered all around the city more than make up for it.

3. If history, archeology, and architecture aren’t your thing, there’s always shopping. The Grand Kanyon (pun hopefully intended) Shopping Mall opened its doors last month. The largest and greenest mall in the country, it has three floors for shopping and one for eating. It takes half a day just to walk around it. This mall is, of course, in addition to the other dozen or so shopping malls in the city, some of them, really, really nice. There isn’t anything you can’t buy here.
4000 years worth of history, unique architecture, museums and art galleries, fountains, and shopping are all found here in the Capital of the Negev. And I haven’t even mentioned Beer Sheva’s famous ice cream!

Beer Sheva's famous ice cream

Beer Sheva’s famous ice cream

On Thursday, July 18 the Southern Region of AACI is hosting a gala Summer Picnic. We invite everyone across the country, new olim and vatikim, Israelis and non-Israelis, families and singles, to come and experience Beer Sheva, to glory in our past, to enjoy our modern beautiful present, and, in addition, to meet our wonderful community.

Our picnic will take place from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM in the large public park in the Heh neighborhood and will feature clowns, balloons, crafts for the kids, jumping castles, cotton candy, great music, and other surprises!. In addition, we are planning a small crafts fair of Negev art.

When you plan your summer vacation, plan on spending Thursday, July 18 in Beer Sheva. We look forward to having you!

For more information, contact me at

We welcome you to be in touch with our Southern Branch office in Beer Sheva:

Miriam Green, Southern Branch Counselor AACI–Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel Matnas Yud-Aleph, 11 Mordechai Namir St., Beer Sheva tel: 08-643-3953

Subscribe to the AACI Beer Sheva newsletter

For more information about the Southern Branch in Beer Sheva click here.

“We Make A Difference” JOIN THE FAMILY! Hours: Sunday, Monday, Thursday 9-1!

Canadian, Eh? Some Important Information on Passport Application from Israel

Your Canadian Passport

Summertime, and the Anglos are traveling. But if you’re an Anglo of the Israeli-Canadian persuasion, it’s important to prepare early if you are planning to travel out of the country this summer. Applying for a Canadian passport has become quite involved, with a number of new requirements, especially if your old passport expired more than a year ago. NOTE: Please see the bottom of this article for more information about office hours and requirements for processing your Canadian passport.*

I just visited the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv. The first thing you should know is that if you’re coming from Jerusalem, the embassy is very easy to get to. Take the 405 from the capital, and get off at the LaGuardia Interchange (the stop before the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station). From there, it is a five minute walk to Beit Canada; you do not have to transfer to a Tel Aviv city bus – or pay 40 shekels for a taxi the way I did the first time I went there as a new olah!

Inside, the passport office is a clean and pleasant place. Be aware that you will not be permitted to use your laptop, cell phone or iPad, but instead will have to check your electronic device with the security guard. You are also not allowed to bring in large packages or luggage items, or to eat or drink in the office. There is a water dispenser for your convenience.

I had left my home in Jerusalem at 6:30 in the morning to get to the embassy soon after it opened at 8:00 AM. There were just two people ahead of me, so I only had to wait about fifteen minutes. Apparently the passport office does get quite crowded later in the morning, though, and it is especially busy on Fridays.

Although I had checked the passport application requirements in advance with the embassy website, I was a little nervous, afraid that I had missed some detail. A friendly fellow Canadian who had arrived after me (but just to pick up passports that were ready – lucky her!) went over the list with me. She seemed impressed that I had brought a certified check rather than cash, and that I had gotten an acceptable guarantor.

When it was my turn to meet with the passport clerk, I felt fairly self-confident. She looked over my application. Proper form? Check. Filled out in black ink, all in capital letters? Check. Proof of citizenship? Check. Professional photos taken within the last 6 months, of the right dimensions and with the proper facial expression? Check. Payment? Check – and a certified one, at that.

Canadian Passport Photo Specs

However, if an applicant’s Canadian passport has expired more than a year ago, as mine had, an additional form of official identification, with signature, is required. I had my slightly – ok, very – battered Canadian social insurance card in addition to my old passport, but apparently that was not sufficient. The clerk asked for my Israeli passport or driver’s license (an Israeli “teudat zehut” is not acceptable). I don’t drive, and my Israeli passport had also expired. In fact, updating that was the next errand on my list.

Although the clerk was sympathetic and took the time to double check with her supervisor, my ID was just not good enough. So I’m off to renew my Israeli passport and then to head back to the Canadian embassy to prove that I am who I think I am.

Oh well … at least I got a walk on the beach out of the whole excursion.


The Canadian embassy in Israel is at 3 Nirim, Tel Aviv. Passport applications and renewals are accepted 8:00 to noon, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, except on Israeli and Canadian holidays.

Tel: (011 972 3) 636-3300

Fax: (011 972 3) 636-3380


If you are living in Israel, you will need to complete and submit the correct form for a Canadian applying from abroad – simplified renewal (if your passport is still valid or expired less than one year ago), adult application or child application. See for detailed information and to download the form needed in your case.

For an application, the form must be signed by an acceptable guarantor (judge, lawyer, physician or signing officer of a bank) after you yourself have completed and signed it. In addition, you will need to submit:

  • Acceptable proof of citizenship or immigration status
  • Acceptable proof of identity
  • Names & contact details of 2 references
  • 2 photos according to the specifications in the passport instructions. (Read them carefully and make sure the photographer is familiar with them as well.) One of these photos must be verified and signed by your guarantor. IMPORTANT NEWS FOR MANY ISRAEL RESIDENTS: In the past, photographs which showed the applicant wearing a head covering were not allowed; now they are permitted if the person wears a head covering every day for religious or medical reasons. According the requirements: “your full face must be clearly visible and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.”
  • For both application and simplified renewal:
  • The current fee in either Canadian Dollars or New Israeli Shekels, in the form of a certified check (“check bankayit”) or postal money order only, payable to “Canadian Embassy Tel Aviv.” THE EMBASSY DOES NOT ACCEPT PERSONAL CHECKS, CREDIT CARDS, DEBIT CARDS OR CASH IN ANY CURRENCY.

Processing time is approximately 15 working days.

Bon voyage!






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.

Chanukah, Oh Chanukah!

Don’t be misled by the summer temperatures—Chanukah begins this week! Although our friends in the southern hemisphere are accustomed to celebrating Chanukah in the summer, here in Israel (and back in the United States and Canada) we are used to warming ourselves up by the burning Chanukah lights and sizzling potato latkes and covering up the additional kilos from those jelly filled sufganiyot by putting on a sweater or two!

The first night of Chanukah begins on the eve of the 25th of Kislev which corresponds to Wednesday, December 1st this year. The lights of the chanukiya remind us of miracles, both old and new. As new and veteran olim, we experience the miracle of living in Israel today and being granted the opportunity to shape the character of our Jewish State.  Although each of us may only be one small light, working together we shine brighter and can make a difference.

And who knows? Maybe there will be another  Chanukah miracle and rain will begin to fall. Rain or shine, AACI has a host of activities planned around the country to brighten your holiday and to keep the children on school vacation happy. We wish you a Chanukah filled with light and joy! Chag Urim Sameach!


All activities take place at AACI – Dr. Max & Gianna Glassman Family Center, 37 Pierre Koenig / 2 Poalei Zedek, Talpiot, Jerusalem (except for the photography walks)

For children

Story Time with Mimi

Tuesday, November 30th, 4:15 -5:30 PM

Ages 4 and up

Pre-registration required – call 02-566-1181

Cost:   AACI members NIS 20/non-members NIS 30

Chanukah Magic Show

Sunday Dec. 5th, 2:00 – 3:00 pm

With the Master Magician The “Great Shmoolonzo”

A spectacular presentation of Illusion with fire effects in honor of Chanukah

Cost for adults and children: AACI members NIS 25 / non-members NIS 30

For adults

Chanukah Celebration

Thursday, Dec 2nd

6:30 – 8:00 pm – Reception, buffet dinner and live musical entertainment

8:00 – 9:00 pm – Rabbi Chaim Brovender, continuing the series of Great Jewish Thinkers presents Rabbi Nachman of Breslav – Chanukah Lights

co-sponsored by AACI and

Cost: AACI members and members NIS 30/non-members NIS 40

To RSVP: Call 02 5671719 ext 0, or email

New Art Exhibition

Visit the Quiltworks by Maxine Forman and

Fine Crafts from Kibbutz Neot Semadar

at AACI.

Bring Light and Color to your holiday.The exhibit runs from Nov. 24 through Jan. 6. There will be a gallery talk on Dec. 20 at 6 pm.

Chanukah Photography Walks

Dec. 7:   Old city, meet at 4- 4:15 at Zion Gate.

Dec. 8:   Sha’are Hessed, meet at the corner of Ussishkin and Keren Kayemet  at 4 – 4:15 pm.

Cost: AACI members NIS 35/non-members NIS 45

Each walk will be about an hour and a half.  Call Douglas at 052-2679-327 to pre-register. Participants should dress warm and if there is a chance of rain, phone ahead of time to confirm.

55+ / – Singles

Chanukah Party

Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 6:30 pm

with music, dancing and socializing. Latkes, Israeli salad and sufganiyot will be provided by the Jerusalem Culinary Institute

Cost: AACI members NIS 45 / non-members NIS 55

Please pre-register – call 02-566-1181


Beit Oleh America Netanya AACI, 28  Shmuel  Hanatziv, Netanya, 42281

Tel: 09 833 0950 email:

“Menorahs, Dreidels & Oil”

Wednesday, December 1st

A full day Chanukah tiyul guided by Adi Zarchior

The day includes a hike on Tel Yodfat, where Josephus, a general at the time of the Great Revolt of the Jews against Rome, was captured. Meet with artists and see hand-crafted chanukiot, dreidels and other art connected with Chanukah, visit an oil press and learn about the manufacture of olive oil through the ages and its many uses today, and visit a Beeswax workshop to make your own beeswax candle.

Cost: NIS 203    Optional Kosher lunch at Druze restaurant: NIS 55
For details and registration, call 09 833 0950

The Pzazz Jazz Chanukah Concert

Sunday, December 5 at 8.00pm.

The PJ Jazz Ensemble will treat you to an exciting Chanukah concert with the best of Dixieland, swing, jazz and blues. Joining the Band will be renowned jazz saxophonist Jacques Sany and Dixieland trombonist Amnon Ben Artzi.

Tickets: Members NIS 70  Non-members and at door NIS 80.

Price includes coffee and donuts.

Call 09 833 0950 for more information.

“The Life and Times of Bar Kochba”

Sunday, December 5 at 10.30am

Lecture by Marjorie Glick

What do we know about Shimon Bar Kochba, leader of the last attempt to regain independence for a Jewish nation, a State of Israel, until our very own time?  Come find out!  Call 09 833 0950 for more information

Creative Photography Workshop for Youth

(12-16 years old)

Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 9.30am-2.30pm.

will be taught by Tom Langford, a professional photographer, digital retoucher and website designer. Call 09 833 0950 for more information


76 Ibn Gvirol Street
Tel Aviv (1st Floor)

Tel: 03-6960389


Four Chanukah Drama Workshops for the Family

December 3-9

led by Meirav Zur, a professional actress

Workshops include:
1) We’re Such a Drama Queen & Princess: A Workshop for the Bat-Mitzva’s & their Moms!

2) So Glad We’re Related:  Parent-Child Workshop for a mom/dad & their 3rd– 5th-Grader.

3) So Glad We’re Related:  Parent-Child Workshop for a mom/dad & their 7th-9th-Grader.  (English)

4) It’s All Relative:  Family-Duo Workshop for ADULTS only!  Pairs of Adult Parent-Adult Child, Sibling-Sibling, Couples, or Cousins. (English)

For more information click here


Tour of the Groundbreaking Electric Car Center

Thursday, December 9th at 11.30am

Chanukah Tiyul – Bring your driver’s license and test-drive an electric car.

(tour with English guide lasts 1 ½ hours)

Cost: AACI members NIS 15  / non-members NIS 20  (not suitable for children under eight)

For more details or to register

(pre-registration required!)  Call 03 – 696 0389


Community Center in Beer Sheva
Matnas “Yud Aleph”
11 Mordehai Namir St.
Shchunat Yud Aleph, Beer Sheva
Tel: 08-643-3953

A combined Thanksgiving and Chanukah celebration took place last week and was enjoyed by all the participants!

Happy Chanukah!