Why Modi’in is a maybe

Here’s an aliyah update:

The hubby got into TAU, of which he reminds me every day lest I forget. Tel Aviv University is in … you guessed it … Tel Aviv.

We originally decided to move to Haifa for no really good reason other than it was cheaper than Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and had a train. Our shaliach and NBN convinced us to move to Modi’in. Having never been to either (I know — can you friggin imagine we’re moving clear across the globe with no real experience?), we were not too difficult to sway. And Rachel Inbar lives there and she kind of rocks my world.

Add to it: there is a communal aliyah program in Modi’in that, in theory, provides additional rental subsidies for a few months, there is a coordinator to help you find an apartment, and even extra ulpan (kind of like a state-run Hebrew lessons so you can learn the language).

All good. Only a couple little problems:

1. Now we’re being told you cannot be a part of the communal aliyah program and receive benefits to pay for grad school. In a nutshell, the student benefits are roughly 3K per year per student (I hope to do grad school too a bit later). The communal aliyah rental subsidy is roughly $200 a month for six months, or $1200. One-time benefit. And yes there is more to the communal aliyah program than just the rental help, but it would be a lot of education to sacrifice for a small help when we first get there. The biggest part is supposed to be that they help you find an apartment. Which brings me to…

2. We are having a very difficult time finding an apartment. As in, absolutely no options yet. We were told we would have no trouble finding a two bedroom unfurnished apartment in Modi’in between $400-$600 a month that allows pets and is near the bus lines. We were told to stick to Givat C or maybe Buchman if we wanted to spend a bit more. So far, nothing we’ve been told about comes in at less than $800. There is absolutely no way we can afford that when we are both going to be unemployed at least for a while. Because we have pets, we cannot go to an absorption center as easily as other folks.

3. And we’ve had a harsh brush with reality and the life that will be ours when we move to Israel. A recent conversation:

The hubby: We’re having a tough time finding an apartment in Modi’in.

Coordinator person for Modi’in: Did you take a pilot trip?

H: No, so-and-so in your organization told us we didn’t need to since we were in Israel for a few weeks a few years ago.

C: So you’re coming to a country that you’ve only been to once?

H: Yes.

C: What are you going to do when you get here?

H: I’m going into the MaMEH program at TAU. My wife is going to retrain as a technical writer…

C: And you visited that program when you were here?

H: Well, no…

C: So you’re going to a grad school you’ve never visited?

H: Well, yes… *

Ah, and that’s when I stopped listening. I love my husband very dearly, but when I listen to these exchanges I can’t help but imagine one of those “National Geographic Explorer” safari movies in the background where a gazelle is about to get taken down by a lion. He just doesn’t know how to stand up for himself and the Israelis are going to tear him a new one.

Anyhoo. We are very much so still moving. And we still have our hearts set on Modi’in. This is the part where I beg for help from my Israeli readers.

1. If you know of a way to find an apartment, please let us know. We are used to living in dumpy college-type apartments and are not very picky.

2. Does Modi’in have kennels? Is there a place where we could board our pets when we first get there so that we could just stay in an absorption center until we find an apartment?

3. When will the train be operating? My understanding is that the station is already being built, but when is it expected to start running?

4. What neighborhoods should we be looking at? We’re looking for cheap and mixed — as in, not all religious so the culture shock is a bit less.

* For the love of Pete, it’s a Middle Eastern History program at Tel Aviv University. How bad can it be? Moreover, it’s taught in English, isn’t too expensive and they accepted my husband, so what’s not to like? There are fewer than 10 universities in Israel, so it’s not like you send in 20 grad school apps. And there have got to be worse places to study about the Middle East. We’re moving to Israel. That means we’re going to grad school in Israel. And that means we apply at a handful of places and go for it if we can afford it and they accept us.

But thanks for you assvice, coordinator lady. If this gig doesn’t work out for you, you’d be a natural fit as an IVF nurse.

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4 responses to “Why Modi’in is a maybe

  1. You are too funny :o)

    I think the train is supposed to start running sometime in the next few months.

    I drove by an apartment for rent today & thought about you. I will check what the story there is (hopefully tomorrow). Pretty much nothing goes for under $500 (at least that is my impression), especially since the dollar is so weak now, but under $600 should definitely be possible.

    I like Modi’in’s location – half an hour from both Tel Aviv & Jerusalem, but one of the reasons I wouldn’t consider leaving now (other than the fact that my parents basically live down the street from me in one direction & my sister in the other) is the school my kids go to, which is mixed (secular and religious)… oh yeah, that and the fact that it’s almost far enough away from my in-laws 🙂

  2. My upstairs neighbor has an apartment for rent for $550 a month (plus utilities, plus city tax -arnona). It’s got two bedrooms, a nice kitchen, a decent living room/dining area and two small balconies. It’s two floors up, no elevator. It does, however have the advantage of great neighbors (US!) As Rachel said, under $600 should definitely be possible and the to Tel Aviv (stops at the University) is scheduled to start running from the outskirts of Modi’in in July (from the center of town in December.) Good luck!

  3. Hi Kirby,

    Delurking.

    I made aliyah with NBN about 3 years ago. Here’s the help I can give you.

    Some websites you can look at for apartments:
    http://www.sheal.co.il
    http://www.homless.co.il

    Also, are you on the NBN listserve through yahoogroups? if not let me know and I’ll email you the address, you can always post that you’re looking for an apartment or see if someone is looking to rent theirs. Good luck, Modiin sounds like it might be a good fit for you.

    Also, Kennels… I don’t know about modiin itself but we send our doggy to a kennel in Maale Hachamisha (it’s a kibbutz a bit up the main highway) we like it and it will work if you need a place to put the doggy. Email me if you want more info about that as well.

    Good luck with everything.

  4. Teresa Harings

    Hi there,

    I will (hopefully, if they ever start reviewing the applications) be starting the MaMEH program at TAU this fall. But I’m a little apprehensive, because I haven’t visited the school/program and have no idea how it compares to, say, a master’s program at a competitive university in the States in terms of level of discussion (both profs’ expectations in class and peers’ preparation), help/interest of professors, career services…yadda yadda. The representatives at TAU’s U.S. offices have been less than helpful. I would love to talk with you and your husband about the program itself, and also about being pregnant while on graduate school insurance. My fiancee (who is Israeli, so the move to Israel is going to happen whether I start school or not) and I are thinking about starting a family the year after next. So – yes, I have lots o’ questions if you have the time.
    Thanks!
    (My email, if it doesn’t show up here, is vitanova00@yahoo.com)

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