By Shmuel Katz

Our printer died today. It lasted for seven and a half years and was brought over on our original aliyah lift. We needed a replacement and I went online and found a new one at a local store for the equivalent of about $110. A similar product in the U.S. would probably have cost around $85, but it was definitely worth it to get the printer right away and not have to shlep it.

Getting the printer brought two cool thoughts to my head. The first was the ease with which I was able to search for a printer, find the right one, comparison price shop, and buy it . . . in Hebrew.

Lately, I have found less and less of a need to ask for an English alternative when faced with reading a menu, brochure, or even a website. While sometimes shopping online can still be difficult in Hebrew, working in an office has forced me to rely more and more upon Hebrew skills, which I used when looking for the printer.

So I’m a bit proud of myself for getting to a point where I’m beginning to feel comfortable with nonverbal Hebrew communications. Although it took me the longest of all the people in the family to get to this point, it’s still a milestone for me.

My other realization was how much things have changed since we moved to Israel. Seven and a half years ago, buying a printer almost always meant having someone shlep it in from America. The cost savings in the basic price and taxes made even the most simple purchase of electronics much cheaper in the U.S.

But things have changed. The local supermarket is filled with Kirkland products from Costco. They may be more expensive, but we can still buy the same products we enjoyed when we lived in America. This is true with many products.

We have stores like the Gap, we’ve got kosher restaurants like McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, and there will even be a Children’s Place store opening up in the local Bet Shemesh mall in three months. With eBay shipments coming from China and Hong Kong, I can buy most of our needs either locally or online without much of a hassle–a tremendous change from 2006.

We even have a local Chinese fast-food restaurant. So, even though you wouldn’t know what season it is here, we will still go out on December 25 and eat Chinese. v

Shmuel Katz is the executive director of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah (, a new gap-year yeshiva. Shmuel, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July of 2006. Before making aliyah, he was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at

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