Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I Passed

Several weeks ago, I decided to start the process of getting an Israeli driving license. They don't tell you this when you arrive in Israel at the airport, but if you are in Israel for more than three months (This is debatable - I haven't seen the rulebook, it's Israel after all.), you're supposed to get an Israeli driver's license. I have been here for over a year and a half. Now that I am driving to Bet Shemesh to work three days a week, I just wanted to be within the law. I already have a North Carolina driver's license, I just needed to get it "converted" to an Israeli license. Sounds easy, right?! All you need to do is to get an eye check, brief physical, answer health questions, pay a bunch of money, and take a driving test.

Well a couple of days ago, after weeks of jumping through bureaucratic hoops, I got to take my driving test. Here you arrange for a lesson with a driving teacher and use his car to take the test because it has a brake on the passenger side. My driving teacher was about 1000 years old. He used a cane and had a really hard time getting in and out of the car. He let me drive for about 30 minutes around the area in Jerusalem where the testers usually test people. He gave me pointers on what to do/not to do to pass the test. We met up with a married opposite-sex couple at the testing center. I got out of the car and they got to both take a lesson. I waited on the steps at the testing center and watched people on motorcycles drive in circles.

After the man had driven, they picked me back up and I rode with them while the woman had her lesson. The husband and I had a little chit chat in the back seat while she was driving. Turns out they've been in Israel about 9 months and they live in Ma'ale Adummim. The husband asked me where I was from, where I lived now, if I was working, etc. Then he started asking me about the "community" in North Carolina. He asked me if I knew a particualr rabbi. Then I realized that he thought that I was Jewish. It's an easy assumption. I do live in the Jewish homeland. I passed as a Jew!

The woman drove back to the testing center and the driving teacher got out. A tester came and got in the car. He wished us all good luck. I looked at my watch as the wife pulled out and made a few turns. Then the tester told her to pull over and for us to switch. Yes, you take the test with 3 other people in the car! Crazy! She drove for no more than 5 minutes. I got in the driver's seat and checked the mirrors, bluckled up, signaled and pulled out. After about 30 seconds of driving, the tester reached down and released the hand brake!!!! That's right, I forgot to put the hand brake down! Duh! I don't think that I took another breath until it was time for me to switch.

I just knew that I had failed the test, but I didn't. I passed the test. It was a relief. I didn't want to have to do that again.

The next day I needed to go to the driver's license office again to do the last step. I had to pick up a form that I needed to pay at the post office in order to get my license. I went to the ATM before I went to the office to get some cash to pay this fee. Well, the ATMs near my house were out of order. So I walked three blocks to the next closest one. I put in my Israeli ATM card, entered my PIN, glanced at the Hebrew and selected the button with the Hebrew word for "withdrawl". I wanted to take out 400 shekels (about $80). Well, you should have seen my face when 400 US dollars came out! I guess I should read more carefully. I had no idea that you could get US currency out of an Israeli ATM! I later learned that you can get Euros from some ATMs too! Time for some Hebrew lessons!

I did pay the fee and I am waiting to get my lovely license in the mail.


At 6/06/2006 2:07 PM, Blogger Savtadotty said...

Congratulations! You've inspired me to post my own driver's license saga on my blog. There's no driving test involved, but a test of everything else: determination, stamina, patience, etc.

At 6/06/2006 2:08 PM, Anonymous Sharon said...


FYI, the test is only 5 minutes or so if it's a conversion. Regular driving tests are with only one other testee, and are supposed to be up to 30 minutes, but sometimes the testers forget that and have you drive for almost an hour.

At 6/06/2006 3:46 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

well done! I have to get that done too - also been driving here for over a year with my south african licence!

At 6/07/2006 3:19 PM, Blogger RR said...

Congrats! I think mentioned before (sorry if I'm repeating this) that I was lucky enough to move here when foreign license-holders only had to take an eye test when getting an Israeli license. That was it. About a year later, they changed the law and now you have to do all that other annoying stuff.

So you passed...and you passed, huh? LOL

At 6/09/2006 7:24 PM, Blogger Sam said...

I knew you would! Congrats! (on several levels!)


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