Mick and I have two teenage boys visiting for two weeks so I am half working and half entertaining.
Last Monday I and the boys arrived at the Ghetto Fighters Museum after waiting for a bus in the hot sun for twenty minutes. It is the height of tourist season so I was shocked when we were told that their staff is on vacation and they are closed! Our first day of vacation dwindled into a shopping day. We picked up a few necessities for the boys, some guitar accessories for Eliav and lots of groceries, and trudged back home.
I was determined that Eliav and Eviatar, who spent last summer running in and out of bomb shelters should have an enjoyable summer this year. They live in Yavne, next to Ashdod, which was the target of a steady stream of rockets from Gaza. Sandwiching activities in between getting my citizenship papers, driver’s license, purchasing an apartment, and trying to restock the refrigerator and empty cupboards, was not an easy task.
Eliav, at 14, is the senior of the two boys. His favorite words are “Noooooooo” and “Whaaaaat” Eviatar is 12 and has suddenly realized that he has hair. He totes around a brush that is almost as big as he is, stuffed into his right front pants pocket.
The weather is stifling hot here and every day seems to bring a new misadventure. Before they arrived, I had gone to the Department of the Interior in Akko twice. It entails taking two buses and milling around with throngs of people, hoping that your problem will be addressed on that day. The employees had been on strike for two days but they are behind two months. I cannot wrap my head around this fact but it was repeated into my “I don’t believe this” face numerous times.
When I went to see my attorney about the purchase of an apartment, he wanted to see my citizenship papers. I explained that I would not have them until August 13th. He said “If you want to be an Israeli then you must begin acting like an Israeli. Go to Akko and tell them you are a Jew and you want citizenship NOW.” He reminded me that I am signing a contract on the following day and “if you don’t have your papers you will be facing huge complications.”
I went back to Akko with Eliav and Eviatar in tow. After standing around for an hour, with about 200 other hopefuls waiting for various needed documents, I saw my case worker. He looked at me incredulously and said “Joan?”.
“Yes, Ner. How are you?”
“Why are you here? I squeezed you in for August 13th. Other people have to wait until October.”
“My attorney said I must come back here and not leave until I have my citizenship papers.”
His face changed from incredulous to anger, “I do not work for your attorney.”
We were standing outside of Ner’s bosses’ office. The boss wanted to know what was going on. Of course I understood nothing of the litany Ner rained on his boss. Ner told me to follow him. I did. He spoke t someone, then he brought me back to his bosses’ office to wait in line and he left for the day. I was inserted exactly in the same spot in the line when he took me off the line. However, the people behind me took issue. The boss beckoned me in and spoke to them in Hebrew. He then asked Eliav to close the door.
It took two hours to get my papers and thankfully Eliav was able to fill in some words that Eddie spluttered for and was able to help him with the transliteration of my name. In the middle of the process it dawned on me that today I am an Israeli. I beamed at the boys. “I am an Israeli!”.
We went to my favorite fish restaurant in Akko to celebrate, but that day was shot.
The next day I had to go to Haifa to deposit some checks. On my last trip to Israel, without papers, I was told I must go to Haifa and could not open a bank account locally. So the three of us first went to the attorney so he could photocopy my new papers, to Haifa to make a deposit and then, something actually fell into place. The Haifa Zoo was only a block away.
We spent a pleasant afternoon checking out unusual animals and taking lots of photos. We returned home hot and tired but we did have fun.
The next day I had to go to the bank again, this time a local one to draw checks from the bank in Haifa for the first step in the closing. The closing takes place in three or four steps and takes about six months. That way the seller has time to find another apartment and is getting partial payments so they can make a down payment on the property they are purchasing. After spending over an hour at the attorney’s office going over the contract, another hour and a half at the bank getting checks, we were free to have another adventure or misadventure..
To be continued