Wednesday morning was a bureaucratic balagan of balagans.
Apparently, it’s that time of year where Jerusalemites have to pay "arnona," which is basically a municipal tax on your apartment that each roommate or family must pay – even as renters. But as a new immigrant to israel, however, I am luckily entitled to a 90 percent discount on my portion of the arnona, meaning – you guessed it – I had to head down to yet another government building this morning, just after I had put my mom onto a Nesher airport shuttle that would take her home.
I arrived at Kikar Safra (the municipality) only minutes after its 8 a.m. opening and it was already packed full. Grabbing a number from the machine, as this seems the preferred method in Israel to standing on lines, I sat down to go through I book I was reading for a story.
After waiting online for over an hour, however, and missing a good chunk of ulpan, my number was finally called and I made my way to the teller. After about a minute, I found out that my waiting had been fruitless, as our landlord had never informed the government that the former roommate had moved out and that I moved in. One of the three of us would have to return with a signed letter stating that fact and bring my teudat oleh (the certificate that proves I’m a new immigrant) another morning.
You can rest assured that said person would not be me.
The rest of the day passed rather seamlessly, and in the end my friend David Abitbol and were able to get a ride to Todd Edelman and Kineret Rozen‘s "Oranimalicious" wedding, as he called it, a beautiful and happy event on a kibbutz near Gedera. As pretty much all the guests repeated aloud, these two are quite a sweet couple, and I really enjoyed how their rabbi did the entire ceremony in both Hebrew and English. I’m sure that this made his family – Americans – much more comfortable.
While as I said, we did manage to get a ride to the wedding, events like this keep making me realize just how much easier life can be here when you have a car. That being said, I hardly think I should be spending that kind of money right now. I also have yet to convert my American license into an Israeli one, which requires not only taking another road test, but taking a series of lessons beforehand, until the instructor decides he has made enough money out of you – ahem, until he decides you are prepared to take the test. Meanwhile, and perhaps one of the silliest rules of Israel, I am still allowed to drive with my American license for about a year I think.
But boy would it be nice to not have to squish into the city buses that stop every five feet and make five-minute rides turn into hour-long journeys.
Thursday, I was so frustrated with the crowded corner I was pushed into next to the bus’s backdoor, as well as the unsavory woman who decided she needed to have her arm around me and pressing on my shoulders, that I actually shoved said woman away from me. I’m not sure what exactly came over me at that moment, but I couldn’t stand this person physically invading my personal space and wrapping herself around my back and arm in the process. Immediately, of course, she pushed me back, yelling at me until she got off the bus, which was luckily one minute later at Shuk Machane Yehuda.
Luckily, I don’t think I’m ever actually capable of starting a fist fight.