10 Slightly Annoying Struggles Non-Israelis Have to Deal With

3 min read
Zoë Biehl
Zoë Biehl

It’s not easy to move to a new country, and it’s even harder if you don’t have citizenship. Non-Israeli citizens have to deal with lots of unique challenges and struggles that come up along the way.

At least we have hummus, right?

1. Israeli bureaucracy

Misrad HaPnim. The name alone can send shivers down the spine of anyone who’s had to deal with the place. You get there at the crack of dawn, wait hours and hours, only to find out you didn’t bring some document they neglected to ever say you needed. Repeat an average of three times before you finally finish getting your work visa approved.

Keywords to know: מִשְׂרַד הַפְּנִים (Ministry of the Interior)

Transliteration: mees-rahd hahp-neem

2. Getting a bank account

First of all, good luck finding someone who even speaks English at the bank. And once you do, most of them will say they can’t open an account for non-citizens. It usually requires making a large scene, in which you have to cry and beg them before they suddenly admit they can open an account for you.

Keywords to know: חֶשְׁבּוֹן בַּנְק (bank account)

Transliteration: chesh-bohn bahnk

3. Going to the post office

Who knew such a simple task could wind up taking an entire day? The post office is annoying for everyone in Israel, but it’s especially frustrating when you don’t speak the language and don’t understand how the process works.

Keywords to know: דּוֹאַר (post office)

Transliteration: doh-ar

4. Picking up your package at a grocery store

Speaking of confusing processes, the first time you have to pick a package up in some back room of a convenience store is strange, to say the least.

Keywords to know: חֲבִילָה (package)

Transliteration: chah-vee-lah

5. No ‘absorption basket’

“Sal Klita” is a financial grant provided by Misrad HaKlita, comprised of various financial perks (including money) for new Israeli immigrants. Unfortunately, you miss out on these perks if you don’t (or can’t) make aliyah.

Keywords to know: סַל קְלִיטָה (absorption basket)

Transliteration: sahl klee-tah

6.Getting sick

It’s never fun having to figure out how to see a doctor when you don’t have medical insurance!

Keywords to know: בִּטּוּחַ בְּרִיאוּת (health insurance)

Transliteration: bee-too-ahch briee-oot

7. Finding an apartment

This is a struggle for anyone living here, but it’s even worse for non-Israelis. Sometimes landlords will discriminate because you don’t speak the language, or worse, take advantage of the situation and swindle you out of even more money. Definitely get an Israeli to take a look at the contract before signing anything!

Keywords to know: חוֹזֶה (contract)

Transliteration: choh-zeh

8. Work struggles

Are your coworkers in a vicious fight, or are they just arguing about where to eat lunch? The best is when you send emails in English to Israelis and they only respond in Hebrew.

Keywords to know: עֲבוֹדָה (work)

Transliteration: ah-voh-dah

9. All the holidays

When the high holidays roll around in September, it can come as quite a shock to those who have never experienced them before in Israel. Suddenly everything is closed for days and you forgot to buy groceries!

Keywords to know: חַגִּ (holiday), חַגִּים (holidays)

Transliteration: chahg, chah-geem

10. Missing your favorite foods

Israel has tons of delicious food, but there are some things you just can’t find here, like some of your hometown favorites. At least we have hummus, shawarma, and sabich to make up for it.

Keywords to know: אוֹכֵל (food)

Transliteration: oh-chel


Zoë Biehl is a full-time freelance writer and editor with an insatiable passion for travel. Originally from New York, she now happily calls Tel Aviv home.

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