A green light for new olim…

  • BenitaLevin
One can never underestimate the importance of the all too crucial to-do list. No self-respecting mother of two - cum journalist, cum life coach, cum olah chadasha - could possibly cope without it.
by BENITA LEVIN | Aug 10, 2017

There are many who make use of their cell phones and laptops to send them daily reminders. I have always opted for the more old-fashioned, yet highly effective pen and paper method. 

After just six months living in a new country, with a new language, a new culture and new rules, there were three highlighted items on that list that had been there for a couple of months, without being scratched off. 

Book date for driving test. 

Book eye test ahead of driving test. 

Book lessons for driving test. 

Yes, after spending more than two decades comfortably behind the wheel in South Africa, my husband and I were required to take a driving test yet again. Driving lessons ahead of said test were compulsory.

In fairness, we were now driving on the other side of the road, and we had a full year in which to take that “practical exam”. But much like the cliché of getting back on the bicycle, the obstacle of driving on the right side of the road, was something one gets used to surprisingly quickly. And with time, one even gets used to the hooting from vehicles in all directions - often in unison - usually for taking just a little too long to accelerate as a traffic light turns green. 

There are many reasons why the “driving test requirements” might still be waiting patiently on the to-do list. There are a range of more pressing items on the list, including: Order new textbooks for school, call air-conditioner repairman, buy more washing powder and replenish stock of ridiculously delicious “kubakim” coated nuts. 

One wouldn’t need to be a Freudian scholar to understand why an adult might keep finding reasons not to book a driving test.

It could simply be that it feels unnecessary at this age and stage in life. It could be that it takes one back to one’s uncertain teenage years when passing your driver’s test was more important to many than getting into university.

It might also be that forking out around 1 500 shekels (around R6 000 each) for the entire process - including eye test, lessons and driving test - is not something one has planned for soon after arriving in a new country.

It could also be the prospect of failing the test and having to go through the entire process and expense again. Maybe people simply don’t have enough free time? Or it could be the heat - after all, who has the energy to take a driving lesson when it’s 33 degrees? 

Whatever the reason for the procrastination, you can only imagine the excitement and relief we felt, when we heard that a decision had been taken by the Transport Ministry to drop the driving licence test for new olim.

Was it fake news? A cruel joke? No, it’s manna from heaven thanks to the hard work of a fabulous organisation called “KeepOlim” - a new post-aliya non-profit for all olim. Now, new immigrants and returning residents with valid driving licences for five years will now no longer need to take new tests.

Details about the change are expected soon, but for now there is a collective sigh of relief from those of us who had yet to scratch off the words “driving test” from their to-do lists. 

A green light that will help make the aliya road ahead, that much easier…  

New word of the week - “Me-nu-mas” - polite - overheard being used to describe South Africans waiting patiently in queues! 

New idea of the week - seeing a book shelf filled with a range of books and magazines at a bus stop. Apparently, you can take any book and return it to a shelf at another stop when you are finished. 

Smile of the week - nine-year old daughter asks: “Why do people keep saying we are ‘fresh off the boat’, when we’ve already been here for six months. Isn’t that a long time?”



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