Last Friday evening before Shabbat, running late as usual (that’s ISHI, not me), we walked out of our house in order to go to a different synagogue than what has become, in this short time here, our usual, we were stopped by a man.
“Are you ISHI?”, he asked. Um, why yes!
“We received mail for you, but we couldn’t figure out where you lived, so I took the letters back to the Post Office.”
Are you following? He knew who we were, but not where we lived.
He was French, by the way, but spoke to us in English. Not Hebrew. Also a weird thing.
We thanked him and we all went our separate ways.
Today, we went to the Post Office to retrieve our mail. In particular, our temporary passports.
From the Nefesh B’Nefesh website:
For the first 120 days from your Aliyah date you can enter and exit Israel with your foreign passport. After this time you are required to travel abroad with an Israeli travel document (Teudat Maavar). You can start applying for your Teudat Maavar 90 days after your Aliyah date.
Okay, so that’s what we did. And that went extraordinarily fast! We went to the office, thinking we’d have to spend hours waiting, and we were the next ones called! All exclamation points earned that day. Okay, so yes, after that, we lost a bit of time when we went to do another errand and our car died. But okay, it was not far from our house, so I could take the perishable groceries back, while ISHI waited for the mechanic to come and tell us it was the battery.
And it took us a few days to figure out (okay, so ISHI did this one) that it was a hidden blessing that this happened this way; near to our house, with meetings that could be changed and no one was hurt (except, of course, our pocketbook, but hey, not a good idea to anthropomorphize that, anyway). So as I told a friend later on, even if it is a wonderful thing to accomplish one goal per day, we were fortunate to do four things that day; get our Teudot, go food shopping, get rid of the genizah that had been piling up on our roof (that was the stop that stopped us), and get our priorities straight.
So of course, we had to have something else happen with those temporary passports, since they are only temporary.
Oh, this is what they say about getting a permanent Israeli passport, again from the NBN website:
After One Year of Aliyah
You are entitled to apply for an Israeli passport one year after your Aliyah, provided that you have resided at least 75% of the first year in Israel. If you have not completed this requirement you may return to Misrad Hapnim to apply for the passport once you have completed 75% of the first 3 years or 3 years of the first 5 years. All passports issued to Olim are valid for 5 years. After 5 years you must visit Misrad Hapnim to extend the passport for an additional 5 years. Please note: a passport extension is done on the existing passport and does not require issuing a new passport. After the second 5 years have passed, you will need to issue a new passport at Misrad Hapnim. The new passport will be valid for 10 years.
And now do you understand the Israeli mind better? I certainly don’t.
So back to this morning at the post office. No, they don’t have them. They don’t store mail there; they are only a passageway for the mail. Call the postman and find out what he thinks.
Guess what? Our postman answered his phone, was in fact at the post office, and agreed to come upstairs where they do store the mail (!!!) and give us our mail.
It was registered. We had to present our identification papers (sort of like the American Social Security number) and voila! We were handed our new temporary passports.
I thought it would be a good idea to thank the man who had stopped us in the street. He had told us he lives at #18; we at #17. Our houses are not even on the same street, but yet they are. It’s sort of the houses that are attached in the back of the facing houses also are considered to be the same street.
No, it does not make sense. But it makes sense here in Tzfat.
We knocked on the door. Shortly, a woman called in a hesitant manner from her upstairs porch.
Yes, in English, but with a French accent.
We told her we wanted to thank her and her husband for helping get our documents. She then told us the rest of the story.
She had been painting when the postman rang the bell and she told him to come upstairs. He told her she had to sign for the documents, so she did, not bothering to look at the address, for he must know it was for them, right? She was so happy that their documents had arrived, which is what she told her husband when he came home. He mentioned that you have to go get your documents, so this couldn’t be theirs. They, too, are new immigrants to Israel, and they, too need these documents to travel. But whose were these? So they opened one up to check, saw my photo, and figured they’d get them to us. They, like the postman, couldn’t figure out where we lived, and so he took them back to the post office.
But, then, on Friday night, when we passed by their house on the way to synagogue, and she saw me from her balcony, recognizing me immediately (she had said she was painting, so yes, perhaps she has a better visual sense than most), and telling her husband to run and catch us and let us know what was the story!
So that is why he knew to speak to us in English! And that’s why he knew who were were, but didn’t know where we lived!
Okay, that part is still not clear.
But you have to be open to the miracles of connection.