Wednesday, December 5, 2012


All is quiet on the home front, as least when it comes to rockets and warfare.  I guess that means its time to turn my attention to other aspects of living in Israel.

On an Israeli mom board I read, one mother posted about another student pressuring her son into letting him copy his work.  The mother wanted to contact the teacher to complain, especially when the mom of the cheater also started pressuring the innocent boy to help her son cheat.  I was shocked...  but the other Israeli moms, not so much.

I am a teacher, so I know cheating happens.  I have seen it in Israel and I have seen it in the states.  But I cannot imagine telling a parent to not confront a teacher about cheating, because "You will seem American and the teacher will only laugh at you".  The general consensus from the Israeli moms was "Everyone cheats, if you arent a genius you must cheat to get into good high schools and colleges".

I am still a little shocked by this attitude.  Is this a student to student thing, an Israeli/American divide,  or do most people cheat and I just have too strict of a moral leash?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pillar of Defense.

It has been a long time since Ive written.  The whole point of this blog was to chart the aliyah process, the differences between the US and Israel and how they have effected me.  I guess after 3 years here, the new and shocking doesnt seem so interesting to write about anymore.

Until now.  This last week we have been living at war for the first time since we made aliyah.  We had a rocket hit down the street from us, and experienced the fear of never knowing when the next siren would go off.  We have been amazingly lucky in comparison to our neighboring cities, but it still has not been easy.

I studied abroad in Israel during the second Intifada.  Terror attacks were happening often, but it was different.  I was single, the life I was 'putting on the line' was my own.  Now I am a married mother of two.  Every time a siren goes off I wonder "What am I doing here?  Why am I putting my girls through this?".  I feel guilty for ruining their innocence, for putting them into a situation that I dont have to.  I worry on how it will effect them, what they will think when they grow up and look back at our choices.

But then again....  this is home for now.  I believe in the cause, I dont want to let the terror group win.  I have a job and the kids have school and we have friends here. 

I dont know what the future holds for us, or how long we may stay here in Israel, or if we will move back to the states.  But for now this is home, and I am teaching my kids the power of staying strong, of following your dreams... and of being smart about keeping safe when possible.

Hopefully I will get back in the habit of updating more.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How big is too big?

When I got pregnant with my first daughter, my husband and I decided that it was time to start saving for a house of our own. Neither of us felt/feel comfortable taking out a large mortgage, so we really wanted to put as much of a down payment as possible.

I am from a VERY expensive area of California. I grew up in a house that was 3000 square feet, just me, my parents and a brother. My husband is from the south of Israel, and grew up in 1000 square feet with his parents and four siblings. Now that we have been looking at places (both to rent and to buy) it amazes me still how much culture plays a role in housing.

Here in Israel, land is at a premium and salaries are generally small. Because of that, it is very common to own a condo, and not a private house. In my city, the average condo size is around 1000 square feet, and the average house size between 1500-2000 square feet. Where I come from, no one owns a condo unless they live in San Francisco, and the average house size is much larger.

Even forgetting the actual house size, the layout of houses always amazes me. In Los Angeles we rented a 1 bedroom nearly 700 square foot apartment. Here we rent a nearly 600 square foot 2 bedroom. Israelis seem to like to squish as many rooms as possible into their spaces.... and as few bathrooms. It all seems rather counter intuitive to me. When we were discussing building our own house, I told my Mother in Law that I would like 2000 or more square feet... her first reaction? "But how will you clean it???" I guess the sand does make it harder...

So I am still debating. How big is too big? How small is too small? And can a family really live with only one bathroom? (I'm going to say NO on that last one...)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I am really not good at this

Well, it has been almost a year since my last post. It has been a crazy year, with ups and downs. We have welcomed another daughter to our family, and said goodbye to other family members. So what got me writing again?

9/11. The 10 year anniversary is this week, and I just can't get it out of my mind. Maybe it will get me back into the blogging world.

In 8th grade, my history teacher had us do a project in which we interview family members on days they would never forget. For my grandparents it was Pearl Harbor and the end of WWII, for my parents it was the assassination of JFK and the first man landing on the moon. I remember thinking at the time, "how could anyone remember a day that exactly?" My grandmother could tell me all the details about where she was when she heard about Pearl Harbor, even 60 years later. I thought it would be cool to have a day burned in my memory like that... and now I know its not as exciting as it seemed.

On 9/11/2001, I was in High School, Junior year. My alarm went off at 6am CA time, and the first plane hitting was on the news. I went to talk to my parents, then turned on the tv just in time to watch the second plane hit. Everything seemed to freeze, and even the news anchor didn't know what to say. My whole world changed in the moment. I dont remember many other specifics during the day, just listening to the radio at school. We were all in shock. It was the first time any of us had experienced a moment like that, where the whole world just seemed to stop.

my most vivid memory is actually of the Friday after. My boyfriend at the time took me to see a movie, and at the end a boy died. I remember everything about 9/11 just hitting me all in that one moment. We stood in the parking lot of that theater and I cried for almost an hour. I just couldn't believe what had happened.

10 years later I am the mom of 2 girls... and it is hitting me hard again. Maybe it is because I am old enough to really understand what happened. I look at my girls and my heart just breaks, because I want to shield them from any sort of harm. Maybe it is because I am living in Israel now, and I know that Americans have forgotten so easily what it is like to be attacked, yet it is something I still struggle with every day.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims, who are still suffering 10 years later... and my mind goes to all those who lost their lives that day, and the people they never got to become.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Even though its the holiday season here in Israel, Ive been attending ulpan a couple times a week. Its been more laid back, because of the constant holidays, but I love being back in the classroom, even if its as a student. this last week has definitely been full of a couple "only in israel" moments.

During a break in ulpan I went with a classmate to a beauty store because she needed some things. the cashier was SO excited to talk to us... she had made aliyah from Georgia (the country, not the state) when she was 18 (at least 40 years ago). She was so excited that we had made aliyah and that we were joining the Jewish people in Israel. She wished us good luck, and thanked us (!) for being here.

Later in class we were discussing the terror events of the Munich Olympics, and learning words that relate to that, such as the word for hostage. A classmate raised her hand and said that her husband had been a hostage during the entebbe crisis, when a plane was hijacked from Israel to Paris. her husband will come in later in the class to give us a first hand account of the event. it was beyond amazing, and proves how little we know about others.

And last but not least... sukkot starts today, and I am amazed to see our whole block covered with sukkahs. Its a great sight, and really makes me feel connected to my neighbors. i love being part of the majority, and knowing that the rest of the country is celebrating with me. chag sameach!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

After a long break, I decided to head back to Ulpan. I am heading to ashdod this time, since it is the closest city that has a real ulpan past the first level. Its an interesting change, since many of the immigrants in Ashdod as French, and it creates a very different atmosphere from the totally Russian class I had here in KG.

I am always amazed in Ulpan how many people have been here 10+ years, yet dont have a basic grasp of Hebrew. I understand that its a difficult language... but you made the choice to move here. I had this same puzzlement in California, when my second generation Mexican-American students had no basic grasp of English by Middle School or High School. Its frustrating to me. After 2 or 3 years an immigrant should be able to hold a basic conversation- the supermarket, public transport, the bank....

In other news... it is holiday season here! Since Rosh Hashana start Wednesday night, Israel will be in a three day holiday.... while this is (semi) common for the states, its creating a panic here in Israel. The stores have been packed the last couple days, and the lines in the supermarket have been crazy. I am looking forward to my second year of holidays here in Israel... I have now officially experienced every Holiday here, and I am looking forward to seeing them through new eyes again.

שנה טובה

Saturday, September 4, 2010

the conflict

I found this website last week called bookmooch, where anyone can sign up and you trade books all over the world. This has been a blessing, since books in English are so expensive here. For the last year I have been stocking up on books when Im visiting the states, but since Im such an avid reader it just hasnt been enough. In the past week I have sent off 9 books and recieved 10 in return. Its a great system....

One of the books I am currently reading is called "Coming Home to Jerusalem" by Wendy Orange. Its been a really interesting read so far. Since the intifada died down, almost 5 years ago now, its easier to forget about the conflict... The last week has started to bring the memories back, with the two shootings in the west bank. I obviously wasnt living here during the Oslo Peace Accords in the 1990s... and in fact the only memory I have of Israel from that time is the murder of Rabin, which shocked all of my hebrew school teachers, but left me wondering why it was so important and who this Rabin was.

I dont agree with many of Orange's opinions, but its interesting to read about the situation in Israel through an American perspective. it leaves me wondering how we got to where we are now. Its been 17+ years since the peace accords, and its hard to imagine the mindset at the time. The second intifada is much clearer to me, and the pain and fear Israelis felt. I was first here in 2004, and we were scared to death of terror attacks. When I studied here in 2005 we had an attack in my city, and were constantly aware of the situation after the disengagement. Its been a quiet lull since then, but there is not great feeling that we are actively moving towards some sort of peace, no matter what the white house says. If anything, the most people hope for is quiet.

I dont know the situation in Gaza now, and as an American I am almost ashamed to admit how closed off we are to the situation only a couple miles away... we live our lives like anywhere else, and its so easy to not question it. I do, of course, have two brother in laws serving in the middle of the action every day, but in my own life I can imagine it all happening far away. One brother in law serves in silwan, where there have been riots often, but my own trips to Ir David, at the edge of the same area, have been quiet.

Sometimes I marvel at the fact that I do actually live in Israel, in a place that is so much the center of debate and religion... yet after only a year it simply feels like a place to build a home and a life... like anywhere else.