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Re: Where can I get it? (Israel edition) You get 90 minutes to use the ticket on any combination of buses and train in Jerusalayim.
February 20, 2018, 04:23:08 PM
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Re: How hard is it financially to make it in Israel? I can only talk from personal experience but this is what we encountered.  We made aliyah seven years ago with three teenagers (everyone said bad idea), no job (gave up a six figure job) and no place to live a month before moving (also a no no from all friends and family). Sold our modest house and all belongings and quit job so no turning back.  Made a committment to first year of ulpan and adult yeshiva.  Lived off of aliyah benefits and stuffing envelopes for a non profit ( for real, had whole family stuffing and working small jobs.  Also small savings.  Took a job as a kindergarten assistant maternity leave to get a foot in the door.  You do what you need to do, I was a 20 year teacher and university instructor in the states.  Within 3 years was principal.  Daughter went to university for four years, practically free and has two degrees.  Has more job offers than she has time for.  Not great salaries but jobs.  Son did elite army unit and yeshiva (yes it is possible) and completing  first college degree. 
 He Just got married to an Israeli  girl who doesn’t speak much English and they live in a very modest apartment and both work part time as she finishes her second academic degree and he finishes Yeshiva and first degree.  No, they do not get supported by parents, they make it on their own. We live in a modest apartment in Jerusalem with an ugly purple sofa that came with the apartment and no car.  Material wise we live very basically but fulfillment wise all of us couldn’t be happier. 
Is this for all Jews? I wish I could say yes, but know people have different priorities.  If you read this an say “he must be crazy” then that  is your answer.  Are there problems here, both financial and otherwise?  Of course.  Do all make the transition? No.  Who does it make the greatest impact on? The kids.  Kids here are on a whole different level as compared to kids in the states, which is an area for a different discussion.  And yes, our children are even more religious here.  They are living  and making Jewish history. Our  son’s commander’s course was packed with religious boys and our girls do national service. Feel  free to PM me if you have any questions that we can help with. 

April 22, 2018, 11:34:55 PM
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Re: Things To Do In Israel Master Thread The 3d movie is fun, the dark water tunnel is great as long as they are not scared or very young, the archeological tour and and discussions are interesting if they are into that stuff.  I would recommend the Temple mount sifting for the kids also run by ir david
June 22, 2018, 10:56:19 AM
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Trip report:Helsinki part 1 We flew Finnair economy from tlv to Helsinki with AA points.  When we went on the Finnair site to pick our seats it looked like all the seats on the plane were available.  We picked two emergency row seats.  The site asked us the normal questions about if we could do these seats.  When we checked in online it asked us the same questions.  When we checked in at Ben Gurion we received the same seat numbers but when we got on the plane those seats were two rows behind the emergency exit row!  I do not know if they changed planes or what happened.  The 4 hour flight was uneventlful.  No meals or entertainment just a drink.
We used BA points for 2 single day Helsinki regional passes which includes all museums and transportation including the train from the airport.  I know some think that this is not a good use of points but it worked for us.  Trams, buses and and ferry all included and easy to use.  It was a half hour ride to the center of the city.
For the hotel we were using ihg points so the choice was the Indigo or Holiday Inn.  Both are 30k points.  The HI is right at the central train station and the Indigo is three tram stops away.  Although both hotels got good reviews we went with the Indigo which was a fantastic choice.  We got a great upgraded room.  It has the most amazing shower, like a waterfall with strong pressure.  Very clean room and very comfortable beds.  They have a separate men and woman sauna and steam rooms open from 5-10 pm and a small workout room with all new equipment.  We were able to check in at 7 am when we arrived and got late check out at 100.  The customer service was fantastic at the hotel and throughout Helsinki.  Everyone we spoke to in Helsinki spoke perfect English which was very helpful.  One of the highlights was the free bikes that the hotel provides to their guests.  We took out two bikes for the entire morning.  We definitely suggest a ride along the water.  Most of Helsinki is flat which makes bike riding easy.
It rains a lot in Helsinki.  The entire area is green.  In July the sun comes up at 4 am and sets at 11 pm which gives you a huge amount of time for touring and hiking.  We found ourseles going out for hikes starting at 8 at night.  The weather is on the chilly side, my daughter wore a scarf and we both wore jackets.  An umbrella is suggested.  Even though it rained two of the three days we were there,  it was usually only light showers and did not affect any of our outdoor activities.
We were not there over Shabbat so I can’t address those issues but there is a Chabad and a main Orthodox shul.  There are no kosher restaurants so we brought our own food.  As in most of Europe kosher foods do not have a hechsher so you need to obtain a list of kosher foods from the vaad of the city.  We got a 50 page list from the shul but pretty much relied on the food we brought.  There is an eight story department store called Stockmanns that has a large grocery in the basement with some of the kosher products, cereals fruits and vegetables.  They use Euros in Finland but most purchases are by credit card.
In part two of the TR I will discuss the places we visited during our three day trip.



July 06, 2018, 09:12:53 AM
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Helsinki trip report part 2 As a side point, Helsinki has a 24% vat.  You can get this refunded at the airport on purchases over 40 euro.  Stockmann department store will give you a 10% off pass if you show your passport at customer sevice on the eighth floor.
After we dropped off our bags at the Indigo we took a short tram ride to the water.  Check out the open air market but watch the sea gulls that we saw stealing people’s food right out of their hands. We took the 15 minute ferry to Suomenlinna Island.  The island itself is free but the ferry, tour, and the several museums and submarine on the island cost an entrance fee.  The ferry and all the activities were free with the Helsinki card.  We bought it just for the day and it was well worth it.  I did not think that each individual attraction was worth the cost but with the card it pays to experience each activity for free.  There is a lot of individual exploring that you can do on the island and we devoted half a day to this place.
We took the ferry back and then a short tram back to the central bus station and took a train to Espoo and from there the 245 bus to Haltia nature center and reserve.  Once again the trains and entrance were free with the pass.  I would not pay for the meuseum but it was worth about an hour of time if you have the pass.  Just outside the museum there are a dozen hiking paths from a one hour wheelchair accessible loop to full day hikes.  Ask in the museum for suggestions.  Since it doesn’t get dark until 11 in the summer we took the train back and explored the city by foot.
The second day we started out at the Stockmann store which opens at 9.  They have eight floors of all kinds of stuff including raindeer carpets.  There is a nice grocery store where you can stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables.  We took the 24 bus to Seurassaari open air museum.  The bus drops you off right by the bridge and you walk over onto the island.  There are hiking paths and houses collected from various  places around the country from various time periods.  You can pay to go into each house and hear an explanation but we just viewed them from the outside.  Watch the squirrels.  There is a sign that they are not afraid of people but they looked like they were ready to attack me.  At night we went to the amusement park in town called Linnanmaki.  The all ride pass was about 40 euro but all proceeds go to a children’s project.  There is a huge candy store, several roller coasters and assorted games.  We just went and people watched.  It closes at 10.
On day three we took the free bikes from the Indigo hotel for a ride.  We rode past the open air market and all the way on the bike path by the water.  We passed  cruise ships, joggers and people walking their dogs.  We returned the bikes and took the number 3 tram to the largest park inside Helsinki called Kaivopuisto.  There are places for kids to play, have a picnic or just go for a leisurely walk. 
We had a 7 pm flight so we picked our bags up at the hotel and took the half hour train back to the airport.  Note that the regional transportation pass includes the airport and surrounding areas.  The pass cost 14 euro for the first day and only 7 euro for additional days.  The flight home was aa points business on Finnair so we had lounge access.  The lounge was empty, comfortable but only limited food.  There was a self serve drinks station including beer, and liquor seved including glenfinnich.  Nithing kosher, just oranges and pears.  We had  seats in the first row and the was no one else in the businees section so we had twelve rows to ourselves, our own stewardess and our own bathroom.  Seats were regular seats but I dont think that I ever had an entire section to myself.  Overall a great trip.

July 08, 2018, 02:21:03 AM
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Re: Kabrams1618's Helsinki TR Thanks. Three full days, with the late sunset,  is a perfect amount of time to explore Helsinki.
July 10, 2018, 05:49:25 AM
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Why I don’t live in Israel yet I have read with great interest many post complaining about this Israeli hotel or that Israeli problem with kashrut or issues with Judaism in Israel.  I would be interested in knowing your one main reason for not living in Israel.  If you made aliyah, the main reason why.
Just so you know, I came nine years ago with three teenagers, no job and no housing so I have heard most of the excuses.
Best move I ever made for my family and I!  I am  interested in why you are all not here helping to shape the country instead of complaining about it.

August 07, 2019, 10:05:18 PM
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