Moving to Israel as a senior may sound daunting, but there are many organizations today that offer free advice and support before, during and after Aliyah, including the Beit Tovei Ha’ir Residence in Jerusalem. Enjoy your golden years in the heart of the legendary City of Gold – Yerushalayim Shel Zahav!
They say that making the decision to move to Israel is harder than the move itself. Whether you have family in Israel or want to live closer to the beating heart of the Jewish nation, you will find that there are many helpers along the way who want to smooth your path.
Morris & Harriet Inker made Aliyah from Brooklyn, New York, in January 2017 at the ages of 88 and 79. They wanted to live close to their son and daughter, and chose to buy an apartment in the Tovei Ha’ir Residence. “We wanted to live in Jerusalem because it’s the place we speak about three times a day in our prayers”, explains Morris. “I do a lot of walking and I love to walk to the Kotel. We have an amazing apartment with a terrace and stunning views. The people here feel like family and everyone is very helpful. When we go out shopping, people come and assist me with my wagon. Even though we don’t speak Hebrew, someone will always help me to find what I’m looking for.”
Beit Tovei Ha’ir is a religious senior residence in central Jerusalem and 70% of their residents are English-speakers. Most have lived in Israel for many years before deciding to join this friendly and supportive community, to avoid becoming a burden on their growing families. Their children, grandchildren and often great-grandchildren can all come to visit them in their apartments (now that the COVID restrictions have been relaxed) and they can even stay for Shabbat or Yom Tov in one of the guest apartments.
Harriet says: “I never expected it to be so wonderful. We’re very happy with the place and the people, and having two of our children and our grandchildren here is really the icing on the cake. Even during Corona, the kids came to visit and we were able to meet outside. The medical staff here are great – we are able to get all our shots in-house without paying or travelling to a hospital.”
Beit Tovei Ha’ir has a full-time medical team on the premises who speak English and can help the residents to navigate Israel’s bureaucratic health system. They provide check-ups, emergency medical support and round-the-clock nursing for the residents where necessary, and the team is led by some of Israel’s top geriatric specialists.
Good medical care is clearly one of the top priorities for seniors planning Aliyah, so knowing that they will be supported through any medical procedures that they may need is enormously reassuring. Israel extends free basic health care to all immigrants irrespective of their medical history, and supplementary insurance cover is also available for a fee.
Benjamin Margo is Beit Tovei Ha’ir’s Aliyah advisor and he understands the advantages of each of the different options. He works with every overseas resident who comes to live in the residence, explaining the process of making Aliyah, customizing their apartment, and helping them to obtain Israeli passports, open bank accounts, choose the best health fund, and sign a mobile phone contract. Beit Tovei Ha’ir has even an in-house Ulpan program for those who want to improve their spoken Hebrew, but it is really not necessary since most of the residents and staff speak good English.
“Many of our residents have children in Israel, but their jobs and their families sometimes make it difficult for them to dedicate time to guiding their parents through the bureaucracy and answering their questions. Our extensive experience of assisting residents to move to Israel has equipped us to answer and even anticipate most of their questions. We’re here to roll out the red carpet when you arrive, and to treat you as VIPs once you get here. We organize trips to interesting sights around Jerusalem, as well as longer trips to the North and to Eilat, and there is a full program of cultural events that you can participate in. Every week a group of residents walks together to the Kotel, and I know that our proximity to the Old City is particularly meaningful for many of our residents who have moved here from overseas.”
Benjamin himself is Canadian, from Montreal, and he has lived in Israel for 21 years, so he speaks excellent Hebrew as well as English and French. “People always ask me when is the best time to move to Israel, and I always tell them to come as soon as possible! There is so much to do here, the weather is pleasant for most of the year, and the people are friendly and helpful. Especially during the COVID pandemic it has been lonely and isolated for so many seniors around the world, which has inspired many individuals and couples to consider moving into a senior residence like ours.
“Here you can have the best of both worlds – privacy in your own deluxe apartment, and a full program of cultural events to join in when you feel sociable. (Some couples appreciate having both options, especially when one partner is more extrovert than the other!) As a Mehadrin residence with daily minyanim, Daf Yomi and other shiurim, a ladies’ choir and learning program, separate hours for the swimming pool, and separate gym, sauna and spa facilities, there is always something to do here. Widowed residents find it a very supportive environment – they can sit together for Shabbat meals, and even during COVID we allowed them to sit together for the Seder. Our warm and welcoming community has a real family atmosphere, which can be a bonus for those whose families live far away.”
If you are considering moving to Israel to enjoy your golden years in the City of Gold, speak to Benjamin about the VIP Aliyah Assistance program at Beit Tovei Ha’ir. You can call him at 929-436-2710 or in Israel at 054-710-9485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.