A few things
I am back in my little (and I do mean little) apartment in NYC, jet-lagged like crazy, and still feeling like I am there (Israel) and not here (NY). To wit, I haven't changed my watch from Tel Aviv time because that seems like the final severance of my being there. It may be 11 a.m. here but in the real world it is 6 p.m. (hey, no wonder I'm hungry!).
I started keeping my diary in hebrew last week (yes, it reads like a 6 year has written in it!) and on the plane back I kept reading over my days. I'm going to write about some of the things that really stood out here today and probably over the next few days.
On the job front I made some interesting discoveries and the AACI proved to be remarkably helpful. For instance, I didn't know that immediately after doing ulpan if you still haven't found a job and you have an advanced degree you need to sign up (bringing along all your diplomas and so forth) with the _academic_ unemployment office and not the regular unemployment office. And you need to do this very quickly because you only have 6 months to sign up with them from the time you officially make Aliyah in order to have your degrees, certifications etc. recognized in Israel. If you don't get everything validated in time your degrees are not worth anything. This I didn't know.
The second thing I found out is that if you get an academic job the government will pay for half of your salary and the university or college only has to pay the other half for the first year. And this can be used as a selling point (hey, you only have to pay me half, hire me!) and foot in the door.
The other really useful piece of advice I got was from a friend and colleague who told me, hey academic jobs are usually _not_ advertised like they are in the U.S. and in Europe because there is an assumption that no one in their right mind would consider applying for the job from outside of Israel and the faculties are well aware of the graduate students (and of course those currently holding academic positions at other universities) within Israel so they tend to use word of mouth or go directly to the person they are thinking would be good for the job. Soooooo, what you need to do is to send your CV and cover letter to anyplace you are remotely interested in working at (in my case that is ANYWHERE) and let them know that you are planning to permanently move to Israel in X month and to please keep you in mind should something arise. My letters and CVs are going out tomorrow, as soon as I can think clearly enough to write good statements of research interest for each place. I'm crossing my fingers because I do have some friends and colleagues in a number of different universities in Israel but I don't intend to be snobby and will send them off to colleges too. So that was the really good news on the job front and I was on cloud nine after hearing that and really optimistic.
The next day, however, I went to Netanya to see another AACI counselor (also really really helpful) and something she said made me cringe and quake. She cheerfully was saying that the really important thing is to make sure that you can somehow, someway make enough money to pay your rent (ok, well that seems obvious but...) and that I hopefully have family back home that can help me out (I don't, I help my mother out!), because you can always get really really cheap cast-off food, like day-old bread and going-bad vegetables for almost nothing but if you are homeless you are really in trouble and that she has had to counsel a number of olim in that situation and perilously close to that situation recently. I never, in my wildest imagination, thought about being homeless or getting to the point of being homeless. It just never occurred to me that such a thing could happen. Well, I would have to move back (perish the thought) before I would let myself get even close to the point of being homeless. I have 3 cats and that is not an option! But it was frightening to hear that it does happen and to people who do have degrees and credentials and who are ready, willing, and able to work. This tells me that I will need to always and always keep an untouchable pad of $5,000 so that if worse comes to worse I can shlep me, my cats, and my belongings back to the States.
Ok, off to the grocery store because my roommate has no conception of acquiring essentials (like paper towels) when we run out and we are out of...everything. Guys!