Common Sense, Israeli Style
All Israelis and olim have a teudat zehut. This is something unknown in the United States, but its something like a social security card with a picture and identification number and all of your personal information: your address, your children's names, your spouse's name, your marital status, etc. It's often called 'an internal passport.'
We got ours almost immediately upon arrival. Earlier in the summer, getting our teudat zehuts involved standing in a long line at the agency, a long wait once inside, and finally the issuance of the identifications and a sigh of relief.
However, when we went to our health clinic, the staff pointed out that my son had been omitted from my teudat zehut. A mother's children are supposed to be listed under the mother's teudat--and my son wasn't. We limped along for a while without correcting this because the idea of another foray into Misrad Hapnim was a bit daunting. Nonetheless, today was the day to finally tackle this issue since we had multiple issues to address downtown: not just adding my son to my teudat, but getting a document establishing my husband is a returning citizen so he can get his driver's license reissued AND I needed to be downtown at Misrad Haklita to get a tuition waiver on the upcoming semester's ulpan tuition.
Braced for a balagon, we travelled downtown, swept into Misrad Hapnim (where's the line? we wondered, looking around at the small number of people) and were there for all of five minutes. This was a breeze. I came packing about 20 pounds of files in my backpack in preparation to prove anything the staff might want: my birth certificate, my son's birth certificate (with apostile and multiple photocopies), photographs of all us, our marriage license, my bar card, medical records--well, you get the idea.
I didn't need any of it.
The staffer we dealt with took my son's teudat zehut, then looked at my teudat zehut. She looked at my son.
"How old are you?" she asked him in Hebrew.
"Sixteen," he responded, in Hebrew.
"Is this your mother?" the woman asked.
"Yes, of course," he answered.
"Okay," she said, then promptly made the changes in her computer, printed out a new teudat zehut with my son listed as my child and handed it to me.
"Have a nice day," she said, waving us out and another petitioner into her office.
Israelis are a very practical people. Here, documentation carried less weight than a child's word--of course he knows who his mother is.
Who needs a birth certificate?