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My Aliyah Story and 3 Tips on Moving to Israel from America

This short article is about my experience when trying to make Aliyah via the ‘Right of Return”, and I want to give you some tips on how to make your move from America to Israel a little smoother.  As a career counselor in Tel Aviv, Israel… this is something that comes up often. So, let’s start at the beginning.

What is Aliyah?

The Israeli government has always encouraged Jewish people to legally, permanently move to the country of Israel.  Aliyah is the term for returning of Jews to Israel via immigration.

What is the Right of Return?

The “Right of Return” is actually something that was included in the first established laws of Israel, when they set up the country.

The law states that anyone is able to immigrate to Israel if either one of their grandparents are/were Jewish.

I was eligible to make Aliyah because my grandfather was a German Jew who escaped Nazi Germany… but it was a hellish experience for me.

In other words, I spent thousands of dollars obtaining all of the required documents, and I was denied.  Why?  Because my grandfather was not buried in a Jewish cemetery.  My grandfather was cremated.

The representative inside of the Misrad Hapnim office told me that I had to prove that my grandfather did not change religions before he died!  Firstly, that is totally impossible to prove!

Secondly, I said there was no way for me to prove this, and the woman smiled and she said, “Yeah, I know”.

The woman working in the Misrad Hapnim office in Tel Aviv did her job, and her job is to stop people from making Aliyah via the “Right of Return” easily.

She caught me in a catch-22, and I was denied any Aliyah benefits.

At the end of the story, I now have my Israeli passport… but it was very hard to get it.  So, here are a few tips to make your life easier.

Tip #1 on Making Aliyah to Israel

My first recommendation for you if you’re planning to make Aliyah to Israel is to plan ahead.  It is going to take time before you can start working legally, so you will want a stash of money saved prior to arriving.

Moreover, make sure that every single document is prepared ahead of time.  Here are some of the documents you will need to have to make Aliyah:

  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marital Status Certificate
  • Proof of Judaism (“Right of Return”- birth certificates of parents, grandparents)
  • Official Passport Pictures
  • Supporting Statement
  • Health Declaration Form

** All public records (birth/marriage/death/divorce certificates) must be authenticated by apostille stamps

Tip #2 on Moving to Israel from the US

Think twice about it!

In my 10 years of living here in Israel, I’ve met many people who have moved to Israel from the US and really regretted it.  For instance, they didn’t understand that the average salary is low, and the cost of living is high.

In addition, the culture is quite a bit different, and change can be hard for some people.  Therefore, make sure you think twice about whether you actually want to move to Israel before you get on the plane.

Tip #3 on Immigrating to Israel as an American

The third piece of advice that I have for you is to be prepared to deal with bureaucracy.  Dealing with bureaucracy is always a pain in the ass no matter what country you’re in and certainly, it’s a pain in the ass in Israel.

Most likely, you are going to be dealing with the Misrad Hapnim office in Tel Aviv.  The Misrad Hapnim office is a loud, hectic, crowded place with long lines.  Moreover, just like in any government offices you have ever been to, things don’t move fast.  Stay patient.

In conclusion, follow all of the tips above to make things easier for yourself and good luck to you on making your Aliyah, and moving to Israel from America.

About the creator of My Aliyah Story and 3 Tips on Moving to Israel from America

My name is Claude Lee Massey, I’ve been living in Tel Aviv for 10+ years… and what an adventure it has been!  I remember the day I arrived in Israel, I had NO money – NO friends – and NO job.  So, how exactly did I become a life coach and career counselor in Tel Aviv, Israel?

Here is my story…

About five years ago (after 15+ years of soul-searching), I had a realization:  That I was put here on this planet to teach and to share the knowledge I have.  Along with that powerful revelation, I had a powerful insight: “I want to open my own consulting business”.

As the start-up capital of the world, Israel has plenty of new companies with growing English speaking sales teams.  Therefore, with my 15+ years of experience in the field of sales, I decided to open a sales training/consulting company.

I never thought that I would open my own business in Israel…but I did!

At once, I went to an accountant to file the proper paperwork to legally operate my NEW sales consulting company.  Afterwards, I began to use all of my spare time (at this point I had a full-time job for a high-tech company) after work and before work creating materials and trying to acquire clients.

Most importantly, I knew what I had to do and whom I wanted to target. 

SalesDevelopmentIsrael.comI started cold calling companies in Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ramat Gan, Jerusalem, Bat Yam, and Holon.  Moreover, I was working like a madman.  I was sending emails and doing everything in my power to try to generate momentum in my business. 

It was, and is brutal being an entrepreneur, but great news!  I was able to find my first few clients!

Something I immediately noticed, was at the conclusion of my sales training workshops (where I focused on selling through telling stories, and teaching specific sales techniques), two things would happen consistently happen:

Firstly, I would receive feedback that the sales training workshop provided massive value.  Secondly, one or two of the students in the course would privately approach me. 

They would speak with me about their struggles, not only in sales but also in life.

Then one time, a female student offered to pay me for a one-on-one sit down session outside of the office.  She asked me to help her figure out a better career path.  As a struggling entrepreneur, I accepted.  

Another student, at another company, approached me and offered to pay me for my time to help prepare him for a job interview.  Yes, he was planning to leave the sales job that he was at.

Similarly, another student from another workshop, at another company me to help them work with their confidence and being able to communicate efficiently.  This would happen again, and again…

Each person with his or her own challenge.  They knew I was not certified or professionally trained.  Still, they would approach me and offer to pay me for my time.

To sit with them and help figure things out, and to give them my guidance.  These first clients called me their “Life Coach” or “Career Counselor“.

Moreover, I was able to help them!  At the conclusion of our 3 to 5 one-on-one sessions, they each had taken took massive steps forward towards the results they wanted.

Eventually, enough people paid me to sit down with them, and called me their Career Counselor or Life Coach… that I began to call myself a “Career Counselor” and ”Life Coach”.

Most people set out to become a trained and certified life coach or career counselor before ever having a client.  However, I never said I wanted to be a life coach or a career counselor,

This interesting and fulfilling profession came to me, literally.

And that is the super-short story of how I began life coaching and career counseling in Tel Aviv IsraelNow 5 years later, I can say that I’m happy to say I have helped hundreds of people just like you.


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My Aliyah Story and 3 Tips on Moving to Israel from America – Claude Lee Massey – Life Coach and Career Counseling in Tel Aviv Israel