Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #150 – ONE YEAR IN THE ARETZ!

Reflection...This week marks our one year aliyah anniversary! What have we been doing here?
It’s pretty much exactly as my ulpan teacher said it would be – we live by the Jewish calendar. First everything started (school, ulpan, gan) but nothing really started because everything needed to really start ‘after the hagim’. And so we went through the hagim. And we put away the last of the schach just in time for the start of the 2 months of Hanukah. Which couldn’t have finished a minute too soon to start preparing for Tu b’Shvat (YES it’s a real holiday here, complete with seders). After that we had 30 days of Purim. Which was like 30 days of sending the kids to clown school the middle of the school year. Not three weeks later the kids were off for the full month of Pesah. After that it was a mixed bag of half days, days off, tekesses, bonfires and bar-b-q’s – Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmut, Lag b’Omer. Shavuot came, along with what seems to be bar mitzvah season. I suppose if I were older it would be wedding season.

In between it all there’s been a lot of shuk adventures and wistful lamentation about ulpan interrupted. We’ve had countless Kotel visits, Hevron trips, mini tiyulim and Israeli breakfasts. We’ve spent time searching for items, searching for stores, searching for parking. We’ve dealt with the bureaucracy that lurks around every life change. We’ve gotten accustomed to socialized medicine. And we’ve spent a respectable amount of time preventing, checking for, talking and dreaming about lice.
I’ve gotten much better at ordering meat. Including boneless turkey breast and steak. I get water every month by what seems like chance and should it not show up, there’s very little I could do about it. So every time it comes, I say Baruch Hashem.

While I can barely put forth a respectable sponga (what kind of Israeli am I?), Bob has mastered the art. I know how to procure gas balloons (so long as I don’t lose the magnetized business card with the number for Am-isra-gas). I carry club membership cards for Fox AND Shefa Shuk. While I pretend Milky has nutritional value and I purchase it without guilt, I do not drive around with my baby in the front seat of the car. I laugh when lizards find their way into my house but I do call on Asher to come and get rid of anything creepy crawly. I have made peace with my dud shemesh. And if I put my mind to it, I can pull off a resh. Ghresh.

My Hebrew is progressing ‘liat, liat’ (slowly, slowly). I can now explain symptoms of fever and sore throat to the doctor in Hebrew. I make small talk with the makolet clerk. And I still find one new word each day. Today’s was ‘lehitgavar’ – overcome. As in ‘anachnu nitgavar’ – we shall overcome.

I talk less about politics though they impact me more.

My favorite way to spend a day is to spend it with my husband. And I actually do this. All the time.

Speaking of favorites, what ‘year in review’ post would be complete without superlatives?
* Most joyous family experience: Our housekeeper’s wedding at Kfar Etzion.
* My ‘eureka’ moment – Why we are here: at some point during Becky’s first grade ‘Chumash Party’ (siyum Sefer B’resheet) at Ma’arat Hamachpela (Patriarch’s Tomb) in Hebron (for more on this I have to refer you to my friend Yonit’s blog***).
* Unexpected random thing that connects where I live to the Torah: My friend David pointed out to me that the two turtledoves that basically live in my yard (lay eggs in our window planters, drink from our waterfall, sing and fly around all day) are what would have been used for a sin offering in the time of the Bet Hamikdash.
* Unexpected random thing that connects the Torah to my real life: We save our carwashes for Kotel trips.
* Most surreal moment: The brit milah of a friend’s baby Avraham at Ma’arat Hamachpela.
* Most un-Brooklyn thing I do here: I share the road with donkeys. Literally.
* Biggest surprise: Our steady stream of visitors from Chutz l’Aretz (outside of Israel). Also, I never expected to become one of those people who refer to everything outside of Israel as Chutz l’Aretz.
* Thing I never thought I’d get used to: Checking for lice. Every day.
* Thing I do that I can’t really believe I do: I leave eggs out on the counter for days (for some reason you can do that here). Also I let my kids wear Crocs to school, to shul, to the Kotel, to everywhere. On cold days they wear socks with their Crocs.

* Thing that annoyed me most that totally doesn’t annoy me anymore: My pediatrician’s weird hours.
* True confessions of an ulpan dropout: I used gan notices as scrap paper for at least the first 6 months I was here. I (still) use makolet receipts to discard chewing gum.
* Most abnormal thing that is normal here: solicitation of armed chaperones for class trips; gun toting gardeners, weathermen, painters, butchers, dads at gan parties; gun checks instead of coat checks for those awkward moments when a security guard asks you,
“Yesh Neshek?” (Do you have a gun?)
and the answer is
“Yesh.” (I have).
* Items with the most puzzling popularity: pineapple flavored Nestea, nougat (which, by the way, is just a fancy way of saying ‘hazelnut’ in Israel – as in hazelnut chocolate, hazelnut cereal, hazelnut ice cream), and ‘Thousand Islands’ dressing.

Just 2 weeks before the one year anniversary of our arrival in Eretz Yisrael, after some deep contemplation about American apple juice (the only taste Barbara has completely forgotten), Barbara said the following to me:

Thank you Mommy. Thank you so much. Thank you for bringing me to Eretz Yisroel.



  1. A year ago tomorrow we all congregated at JFK to see you off and 12 hours later watched live as you landed in your new homeland. I know that this has been for you the biggest decision of your lives and that everyday you wake up knowing that for you it was the right one.
    May each day be filled with sunshine,love, happiness,good health and may God keep you all safe.

  2. How could you forgot to add trempers?!