At the Ministry of the Interior today I waited for an hour in a hot room for my name to be called. One of the staff had not shown up to work and no one seemed to be clear on whose responsibilty it was to take over her appointments, so those of us who were supposed to meet with her didn't know how long we would have to wait before meeting with grouchy and begrudging staff members.
In the meantime, I saw all kinds of people go to their appointmens with all kinds of disappointments as a result - people who didn't speak Hebrew or English who couldn't fill out the forms, one very pregnant woman with a stroller who was four shekels short of the right amount of money to pay for her visa (someone on line gave her some money, which was nice) and people who were told they didn't have the right forms. I didn't see that many people coming away with visas successfully, so I knew I was in for something unpleasant.
I was right. The woman was impatient and impolite. She took my letter of admission and said, "What is this? This is not what I need." After much prodding, she explained that she needs a letter addressed to the Ministry of the Interior stating that I am a student at Hebrew University, not an acceptance letter addressed to me (which was good enough in the US and Canada to obtain a visa). She also requested a letter from a Rabbi stating that I am Jewish. This makes me quite angry as my program has no requirements that you have to be Jewish to study, so not only is it rediculous, it is completley irrelevant. In any case, she signed my forms and said I could come back without an appointment and give her those letters and pay the fee and she would give me a visa. I have trouble believing that it will be that easy, especially that it will be that easy to get in to see her without an appointment, but I guess I'll give it a shot. I e-mailed some folks at Hebrew University to inquire about getting the letter, and hopefully I'll hear from them soon. If not, I need to leave the country in early October so that I can get a new three month tourist visa.