Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yom Kippur

In the five years since I started coming to Israel, I have had the pleasure of experiencing every Jewish holiday here in the holy land, with the exception of two- Lag Baomer and Yom Kippur. When I was studying abroad here, I had an amazing Rosh Hashana in Jerusalem, but flew to meet my parents in Germany for Yom Kippur, only to return in the middle days of sukkot.

I dont like fasting, in fact I hate it. Last year I was pregnant... I got very sick and ended up eating and drinking in small amounts before the fast was over. This year I am breastfeeding, but only about half of the time, so I am hoping it will be easier. Everyone always tells stories of how amazing Yom Kippur is here, and I am excited about it. Its also exciting that for the first time I dont have to argue about taking a day off so close to the start of the school year- here it is a national holiday!

In Ulpan this week we talked about Yom Kippur. Sadly enough, I was the only person in the class (besides the teacher) who knew what Kol Nidre was. Tonight we will hearKol Nidre, which I have always thought is the most moving prayer. Until Monday at midnight we will dwell upon our transgressions in the last year, and how we can better ourselves in the year to come. I hope those of you fasting have an easy fast and

גמר חתימה טובה

Thursday, September 24, 2009

material things

I know that in this time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, one should really not be thinking about material things. It is a time to remember that our lives are short, and what is important is our spiritual and deeper connections with the world and what lays beyond.

That being said.... WE GOT OUR LIFT! It may seem superficial, but that is not the main focus. It isn't that I am happy at having things again, or how much I have... It's just that moving across the world, away from my family, has been hard. I miss the things that I grew up with, the things that I am used to. Thats why it is a blessing to have our lift. In it are pictures of friends and family, memorabilia from my past, things that make me so thankful for my life. We have boxes with pictures from our wedding, memorabilia from our time together, even books and outfits from my childhood. Each of them holds a special place in my heart, and reminds me of the people I love.

The hardest thing by far about living in Israel so far has been the distance from my family. I am glad to have these things here, even after all the drama. In the end the movers were nice, and everything went smoothly. Our things are mostly organized, but some of our boxes will be going back into storage until we get a slightly bigger place. Step by step we are making this home.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

the job search

Well, both interviews went well. I fell in love with one of the places, which currently only has part time, with the opportunity to move to full time next year. In a way that is good, with the baby, ulpan and being a new immigrant and everything, I may be glad to only be working part time.

Berlitz on the other hand felt like it didnt matter who I was or what my teaching style was. It may be good just to keep busy, but it definitely does not encourage individual thought. In graduate school I learned a lot about teaching students English as a second language, and while I agree with what a lot of Berlitz does, I was slightly offended when my interviewer told me that if students did not read up to par to just keep going, since reading isn't important. I get that Berlitz wants to encourage speaking more than anything, but to completely ignore reading? The point seems to not be to teach them English, but to teach the students how to repeat phrases. Maybe it would be different in the classroom, but the way he was explaining it... well it didn't seem too attractive.

We will see where it all leads. We are hopefully getting our lift before Yom Kippur, but after the whole issue yesterday the guy is not making any promises. heres to hoping we get our things soon!

Monday, September 21, 2009

what a start

Rosh Hashana was very nice and relaxing. With such a young baby I only made it to Friday night services, but the rest of it was also nice. it was very different from how I grew up celebrating, which was hard, but something to get used to.

Today I had an interview in Tel Aviv. On the way up we called our shipping company to check on our shipment, and they told us "still in customs, maybe at the end of the week". So we went to Tel Aviv, where I had an interview (which was fine, although I am not sure the job is for me), then looked for a dress for Ami's wedding.

We got home (after picking up the baby from daycare and grabbing dinner) around 7pm. When I checked my email at 730pm or so there was an EMAIL from our shipping company which said "We are trying to deliver your lift, what is your phone number?"- time stamped just 15 MINUTES or so after we had talked to them that morning. To add to my frustration, I just talked to my parents who said the shipping company called THEM at 2am California time looking for us! Honestly!

So for now, since it is too late to call them, I am just frustrated. And tmw I have another interview, meaning we will be out of the house most of the day. Heres to hoping we will be able to get our things, and sleep in a real bed within the next 24-48 hours!

Friday, September 18, 2009

a new year

Since the new year is coming up quickly (Rosh Hashana starts tomorrow night!), I have been doing a lot of thinking about this past year. I have been amazingly blessed, and I am so thankful for everything. There have been hard moments, and I know that I have undertaken a hard challenge, but if this coming year is as good as this last one, I will be thankful

It is hard to be so far away from my family, but I am thankful that they got to experience this last year with me, and they are constantly in my thoughts. I think of Gilad Shalit's father, of Asaf Ramon's mother, and I am thankful that I can still contact my family, and celebrate with my husbands family. I remember that Shalit has spent 1,200 days in captivity, and all his father asks on this new year is that he be allowed to return home. He has given Hamas a gift for Gilad, a simply Rosh Hashana package. I remember that just last week Asaf Ramon's mother was preparing for these holidays, and this week she has had to enter into morning. It is said that during these days before Yom Kippur, it is written who will live and who will die in the coming year. We cannot know why these things happen, but I hope that everyones year is peaceful and happy.

I am beyond thankful and continuously amazed at the wonder that is my daughter. People can tell you what childbirth and raising children is like, but everyday I discover something new. I feel like I am more able to feel every moment that passes, which is both good and bad. I hope that in this coming year we can see only more blessings from each other. May you all have a sweet and happy new year!

שנה טובה ומתוקה

Thursday, September 17, 2009

job hunting

good news on the job front- next week I have two interviews, both for part time teaching. I still don't know what kind of time commitment I am looking for. I want to spend time with my daughter, but I also know that after four months of doing the stay at home mom thing I am more than ready to be back in the job market. Both of the jobs have pluses and minuses, so we will just have to see how they go.

The job market for my husband has been tougher. The High Tech industry, while on the upswing, still hasnt really settled in. Hes been getting calls, but nothing particularly relevant. hopefully that will pick up after the holidays. He is also looking into teaching, which apparently has a much stronger market, even if less pay.

We have been gone a month now. I know this all takes time, and I am enjoying that we can take time to just be together, and to do things we want to do. We are in no serious pressure right now to HAVE to have jobs, so its been ok. We are both beginning to get restless though, so hopefully things will turn around soon, after the holidays.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

things have been going pretty steadily. Ulpan has been a lot of fun, and part of me likes being a student again. I know there is a lot of work ahead of me as far as learning hebrew, but I like the challenge. I have been getting a newspaper once a week called Shaar Lamatchil, which has all the news in hebrew, but written with vowels and in relatively easy grammar and vocab.

The holidays start this week, and it will be my first Yom Kippur ever in Israel, and my first time having my own sukkah to build. I am sad to not be able to spend the holidays with my family, especially since Rosh Hashana also happens to fall on my brothers birthday. At least we have Yehis family here to celebrate with, and most of his siblings will be around.

One of Yehi's brothers (the best man at our wedding) is getting married after sukkot, and things have already been gearing up to get ready for the henna and the wedding. They have been planning decorations, food, outfits and everything else one could possibly think of. My mother-in-law has been teaching me how to make Moroccan style cookies, so I can help her with the preparations. I enjoy baking, so it has been fun. We will be baking for about 600 people for BOTH the wedding and the henna, so there will be a lot of work. at least it enjoyable, and helps me practice my hebrew

Monday, September 14, 2009


One thing that has always amazed me about Israel is how connected the people are. It doesn't seem to matter where you come from, who you are, how religious you are or anything. If you live in Israel, you are part of "us". This never ceases to amaze me.

Last night in Ulpan we were discussing a text on the H1N1 virus when my teacher got a phone call from her daughter. Her demeanor immediately changed, and the look on her face was pained. We all immediately thought there had been a terror attack or something of sort, but when she got off the phone she couldn't even talk. After a minute she composed herself, and told us that Assaf Ramon was rumored to have been killed in a plane crash.

I knew that Assaf Ramon was the son of the Israeli astronaut who was killed six years ago when the Columbia exploded, and the fact that now his mother had to deal with another sudden death was upsetting. But why was my teacher taking this so personally?

She explained to us, constantly repeating that she hoped this information was false, that Israel had stood by the Ramon family six years ago, and watched Assaf and the rest of his family take the news and honor their father. Assaf chose to follow his fathers footsteps, became a pilot and had passed the rigorous training of the IDF. He stood for the Israeli mindset of getting back up on your feet, always feeling pride for your country and being willing to put your life on the line for it. Though no one I talked to knew the Ramon family personally, they are all treating this death as a personal blow. And I love that about Israel.

Friday, September 11, 2009


When I was in 8th grade, my history teacher assigned a project that involved us going to our family members (especially grandparents) and asking them what the days were that they remember most vividly in their lives. From my grandparents I learn about their feelings as they lived through major world events like Pearl Harbor, the end of WWII, the Korean War, the death of JFK, the first man on the moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall and more.

I remember thinking then how lucky I was that I had no dates like that. Honestly, in 8th grade, there was not a single day or world event that stuck in my mind that significantly. I remember wondering how ANYONE could remember exactly what they were doing and how they were feeling on a certain day, especially one so far in the past. It wasnt until High School that I realized there are some days that are just burned in your brain.

I used to love to fly. Growing up my family always traveled. Sometime in 2000, I grew a sudden fear, and had no desire to ever get back on a plane again. On the way back from Cuba in spring 2000, I decided, in Florida of all places, that I was never getting on a plane again. This of course was a lie, since I lived in California, and still had a very long flight ahead of me. I flew again in summer 2001, each time having a panic attack when boarding the plane and for the first couple hours of the flight.

On Sept 11, 2001 my alarm clock went off at 6am. The breaking news was of a plane hitting the world trade center. Honestly, I had no idea what that was. I walked into my parents room and said "See, this is why I don't want to fly". They gave me a look, and said something along the lines of "I'm sure it was just a prop plane, nothing to worry about." I went back to my room, turned on the TV and watched the second plane fly into the world trade center. I didn't cry. I just stared at the screen in shock. Is this for real? What does this mean?

We went to school that day but nothing happened. We listened to the news on the radio and heard of the third and fourth flights that went down. We discussed the meaning of the events in all classes, and what they could mean. We felt lucky on the west coast.

I didn't cry all day, or even all week. That Friday I went to the movies with my then boyfriend, and we saw "Hardball", a movie about under privileged kids... one of whom dies at the end of the movie. I walked out of the theater in tears. Who knows why... for some reason that movie made me realize how real everything was.

Things have changed since then, and yet they havent changed. I'm living in a foreign country, but I still fight with my fear of flying every time I board a plane. I have a daughter, and part of me is fearful of the world she will grow up in. I watched the moments of 9/11 on the news again, and wondered that after 8 years the feelings of shock and fear are still there... yet in my daily life I can ignore the implications of the resulting wars, even here in the middle east.

I thank g-d for everything he has given me since that day, and for that fact that even now there are only one or two other major world events that I remember as vividly.

Monday, September 7, 2009

adventures in ulpan

so back in 2005, when my husband and I first met, I had started ulpan Aleph in beer sheva. I did about 5 months of ulpan aleph, enough for me to be able to go to a grocery and get out with something relatively close to what i was looking for. since we started dating i have tried many forms of hebrew lessons- i did a year online (at their level C), a year at the reform temple near my house (at their level D, which was wayyyy too high for me) and many many tapes.

although my husband might not always admit it, my hebrew has gotten better. the problem is that my classes levels always skipped around... so while i can get by in present tense, and pretty well in past tense, the future still confuses me to no end.

all this made signing up for my free hebrew lessons here kind of confusing. the city we live in only offers two levels as i said before- aleph and bet. i know i dont need the beginning of aleph, but im sure i could learn things. it meets everyday. the bet meets only twice a week, and really is a mixed class of all sorts of levels higher than aleph.

i went yesterday to sit in on the bet class. there are about 12 people in the class, all russian and all over 60. i am also the only new immigrant. the class was challenging- i understood everything that was said, but my speaking and reading are severely lacking. for better or worse the whole class was in hebrew, only punctuated by brief explanations in russian, which dont really help me any. i talked to the teacher after, and she thinks i should stick with the bet. part of me wants the challenge, and part of me thinks i should go back and learn future before i attempt this level. since those seem to be the only two options, and Yehi and my teacher have offered to help me learn the future and my buildings, i am sticking with bet. wish me luck, im going to need it!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

we spent the weekend at one of Yehi's cousins bar-miztvahs in Ashqelon. It was an interesting experience, and very different from the American conservative bar/bat mitzvahs I grew up with. We went Friday night, and stayed in a small hotel with about 200+ people of Yehi's family. Friday night we had services and a big dinner. Saturday there were services, a big lunch, lots of hanging out with family and the third meal... then we all went home. There was no big party, no dancing, no speech by the bar-mitzvah boy (actually, I think he tried at one point, but no one could hear him over everyone else.).

Sometimes I forget that I am living a world away from my own family, but nothing makes it strike home like hanging out with Yehi's family. For some reason, especially being at the sea in Ashqelon, it strikes me just how far away I really am. Maybe its because I know my family is 'out there' far across the water. Maybe its because I look at Maya and realize that she has no idea what we have done, and the choices that we will have to make as far as visiting family and who she will grow up with. I love that she has cousins her age to play with, and masses of aunts and uncles who will take care of her.... but I HATE that my parents cannot see her learning to roll over, to talk, to sit up.

these are the choices we made. Maybe they will change, but for now we are going day to day. Our daily schedule hasnt changed much, maybe because Maya is so young, which is somewhat of a blessing. I can hold on to the similarities and work my way into the israeli system step by step.

On that note, ulpan starts today... we will see where they put me... heres to hoping a bet class opens up!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

the school year begins...

for the first time in... oh 20 years or so, I am not starting school with the rest of the population. its a strange feeling. most israeli schools opened today for the start of the 09-10 year, and its been a crazy mess here in Israel. those of you following the news know that immigrants from ethiopia were denied entrance to some israeli private schools, on the basis that they did not have a strong enough background for their grade schools. there were protests, saying that the exclusion was race-based and unfair. as of today some 48 or so ethiopian students have been allowed into private schools in petach tikvah.

that hasnt been the only problem. the education ministry decided it wanted to once and for all remove "nabka" from arab israeli school books. the term means "disaster", and is used by many israeli arabs/palastinians to refer to the creation of israel, and is "celebrated" (mourned?) on israel independence day. as a result, many arab teachers are threatening to go on strike if the ministry follows through. i personally side with the ministry on this one. if a national textbook encouraged ONLY a "disaster" day on the 4th of July, how would the us react? you are citizens of a country... you can agree or disagree, but you still need to learn at least both sides of the story.

on a personal level, today also marked the first day of mishpacton, or daycare, for Maya. she is going to an aunts, so its not like im leaving her with strangers.. but it was still kind of hard. its only a half day, so i will go soon to see how she did. it was nice to be able to run errands without lugging around the stroller or holding her... but i will be very glad to pick her up. ulpan is supposed to start sunday, so we will see how that goes. love you all, miss you all too