After four months in our short-term rental, my family and I are preparing to move into our new apartment. Considering how we managed to successfully move our family across the world during an international pandemic, it is amazing how overwhelming moving just a few blocks away is turning out to be.
In the first instance, apartments here in Israel are not exactly turn-key ready. In Israel, it is actually the former tenant’s responsibility to paint the apartment and make any minor repairs that may be needed. While some former tenants hire professional repairmen or painting services, it seems to be acceptable practice here for former tenants to handle repairs and paint jobs themselves.
Tenants are only required by their lease to return the apartment in the condition in which they received it. So, if an earlier tenant did a quick and cheap slap-dash paint job, there is no reason the now vacating tenant cannot do one as well.
Of course, landlords usually have a security deposit on hold from the vacating tenant and could seek to use these funds to make necessary repairs for damage beyond normal wear and tear or to cover up a below-standard paint job. Tenants could contest the landlord’s decision, though, by proving that the condition in which they got the apartment is the very same as the condition in which they are leaving it.
That’s why attorneys and friends alike have advised us to photograph or record every detail of our new home before we bring anything into it. That way, we won’t be “fryers” (inexperienced olim) on the hook for repairing preexisting problems when we eventually move out.
Rental apartments here in Israel are not outfitted with the usual large item appliances, so unless your plan on making due with peanut butter sandwiches and shelf stable milk for a couple of days, you have to arrange to have your fridge, stove, and oven delivered and hooked up prior to your move. You also have to make sure to transfer the registration for utilities such as gas and water to your name to ensure these appliances actually operate.
From what I can gather from utility websites, the cumbersome process appears to involve coordination between the landlord, the previous tenant, and the family moving into the apartment. To further complicate matters, none of the required paperwork is available in English. Either Google Translate will have to help us through, or I’ll be bugging the Modi’in Moms’ WhatsApp group once more for help.
Of course, looming above all these details is the question of whether our appliances (and our long awaited lift!) will even be able to be delivered to our new home. Previously, parts of Ashdod (where our lift items are stored and the appliance warehouse is located) were locked down due to surges in corona cases. And with cases now rising throughout Israel, it is uncertain what restrictions will be in place in the coming weeks.
As we’ve learned time and time again through this aliyah process, ultimately everything is in Hashem’s hands.
In the meantime, we are doing our hishtadlus. With just a little more than two weeks before we have to vacate our apartment, we can ill afford to be put into bidud (quarantine) again. So while we have of course been taking precautions since we arrived to keep our family safe, we are hunkering down now even further.
We are davening at home and ordering our groceries online. We are choosing to keep our son home from summer camp even though we loved seeing how well he was settling in. Rather than taking the kids on walks to our favorite Modi’in haunts, we are enjoying our beautiful backyard.
Incidentally, it’s amazing by the way to see how beautifully our garden has blossomed despite the intense Israeli heat and my poor gardening skills. This land truly is the land of milk and honey!
As our mango tree and passion fruit vines are almost ripe, hopefully we’ll be able to pick some fruit before we move out. Not only will it be a delicious treat, it will be a great opportunity to teach our children about the mitzvot special to the Land of Israel – terumot and maasrot. Talk about a hands-on education!
Four months since our original move, our belongings no longer fit into the 15 duffel bags we brought with us from New York. I like to think that more than the books, toys, and other sundry items we’ve accumulated since our aliyah, what we’ve really gained is a greater understanding of what it means to actually live in Israel.
Like our new apartment, life in Israel may not be “turn-key ready,” but with time, work, and patience, we are making it our new home.