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.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yehis grandfather passed away last week (BDE), so I have spent the last week experiencing another first here in Israel... the mourning process. Yehis father and his siblings have been sitting shiva all week at his grandparents house, and we went by every day to visit. Like in the states, people stopped by throughout the day to visit and share their condolences. Every night a hundred + people would show up for the evening service. On the last night they had 300+ people. I know that Yehis grandfather was well respected in the community, but he had been sick for 10+ years. It amazes me that that many people were willing to take the time out of their week to share in the sadness and the memories.

Here in Israel it is also customary to bury the dead as soon as possible. Yehi's grandfather passed away last shabbat in the afternoon, and the funeral was that night at 11pm. It was the first time i had ever been to a funeral at midnight... kind of a creepy experience. But again, I was amazed that only 3 hours after shabbat ended, 100 people were there to celebrate in his memory and share their grief. Israelis really understand the need for community, and will drop everything to help out. We never wanted for food all week... though the heat was a bit stressful.

The week of sitting shiva is over now, so things are starting to head back to being normal... i know it is hard for yehis family, but I am glad I was here to show my support.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

one year

I know I never post anymore... but to be fair we havent spent much time in one place this summer. but I had to break the silence because...

today is our one year aliyah-versary! It has officially been one year since we landed here in Israel. Hard to believe how quickly it has gone, and how much has changed.

Sometimes its still hard to believe that we live in Israel, that we are really making a life here. I still miss my family everyday (many times a day really), but I feel better about my ability to survive as an Israeli citizen. My hebrew is far from fluent, but I can get by on my own in most situations... In the past year I have argued with an Israeli taxi driver, held a job as an israeli citizen, attended multiple events in a week, picked up hitchikers and helped out family sitting shiva.

I am currently reading a book called "Yesterday's Self", which is an analysis of immigrants and the effect immigration has on the individual. I feel strange calling myself an immigrant, but that is what I am. The book questions if it is possible for a person to move countries, yet still retain the same identity they call themselves. While a year ago I would have said yes, I no longer know. To be fair a lot has changed since we moved (motherhood, etc)... but I can also feel myself beginning to respond to daily situations differently than I would have before... mostly to fit into the local culture.

It has been a good year overall. may the next year be just as good! (and may I keep being able to see my family as much as I have this year, if not more)

Monday, May 31, 2010

It has been a peaceful couple months here... but that never lasts for long. Todays incident has brought a lot of fear and anger back into Israelis... it was for something a lot less serious than this that the last intifada was started.

I struggle with the Israel conflict. I see so many people (facebook friends, blogs I read, the news...) discussing 'Israel the aggressor' and 'the bloodbaths in Gaza'. I dont have the strength to fight everyones opinions, but I cant believe some of the blanket statements I hear. I never know if I should stand up for my new home or just let it pass. In college, Hillel used to tell students that there were three types of people when it came to any argument- the 'saints', the 'sinners' and the 'salvageables'.... basically that it was pointless to argue with anyone who was already blatantly anti-israel, because they would never listen, and instead to focus on the last group because they could still be 'converted'. That may sound horribly biased, but its true with all arguments that one believes strongly in.

It pains me when events like this happen, because then I realize how many people hate me just for being here... and I wonder why I would ever have brought my daughter into this situation. My husband on the other hand believes this is exactly why we are here... to show people that Israel has a right to defend itself and its citizens... including us. we will see what happens over the next couple days and weeks. heres hoping that it remains relatively peaceful...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

mothers day

Israelis dont celebrate Mothers Day, and its something that really bothers me. I get the idea of the Israeli "family day", but in reality no one celebrates it. And even though Mothers Day has turned into a serious Hallmark holiday in the states, I appreciate the importance of the day more every year.

My mother and I are too much alike in many ways, and VERY different in others. Growing up I never really appreciated what she did for us. My mom worked very hard in her career and her job, and I often complained that we were second place. I never took the time to notice that we ate dinner as a family together almost every night, or that until I was in High School most of our meals were home made.

Thats not to say, of course, that I NEVER appreciated my mother... I just didnt really understand her. How can a child ever truly understand what a parent goes through? I have been a mother less than a year, but I have already made some revelations in the parent-child bond. I am still the person i was before I became a mother... I have my own dreams and goals in my future career, and they are now mixed with the desire to offer my child(ren) the best that I can, included family meals and school events and everything else that may come. This is not an easy task, and I struggle with the conflict between who I was and who I am as a mother.

Being out on my own, in a foreign country, has really made me think about my childhood. I am sad sometimes that my child(ren) will not experience the same things I did... The fall decorations in school, learning the alphabet... and I worry that I will not be able to connect with the things they do learn in school, or the experiences they have growing up. Everyday I become more thankful for the opportunities my parents offered me, and I can only hope to offer them to my children.

So, for my mother who I worry sometimes thinks that I have forgotten her.... I love you so very much, and I am thankful for everything you have done. Happy Mothers Day.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What is the cost of education? And where does in rank in importance to everything else in life? My co-latin teacher and I were discussing Israeli education today, and the issues and benefits that come with it. I, thankfully, have a couple years before I need to start making decisions about education for my child, but it always sits at the top of my mind.

My husband and I both got very good educations. From the time I started grade school I knew that college was not an option... it was a fact. I went to private school for middle and high school, and got one of the best educations in the area. I am thankful everyday for the opportunities it provided. I have since gotten both my bachelors and my masters degree. Where I went to school this was the norm. My husband grew up in a very different area, but his parents decided to send him to an elite religious boarding school. He is the only one of his siblings to get a 4-year college degree (so far...).

We talk often about our options. Here in KG education is not paramount. Like many areas in the US, it is possible to get a good education here, but only if the parents (and the student of course) are very focused on finding the best options, and enforcing and encouraging education at home. This is something that seems natural to me, but it isnt to most families here. This area is much more blue collar, and most residents dont have a college degree. There is also the defining factor of the army... most people who do attend college only do so after the army... at the age of 22 or 23. This simple, but significant, factor encourages many to simply go straight to work after.

Luckily we have some time before making these decisions... but as teachers this is something that we talk about everyday. Every discussion makes me more and more thankful for my own upbringing and my parents insistence on a good education

Monday, April 19, 2010


I'll admit it, there are a lot of things I dont love about living in Israel... but the holidays arent one of them. Israelis manage to experience and express their feelings about life in ways that I only dream of. In the states memorial day is celebrated by sales, July 4th with picnics. They have no connection to each other, and although you often see red, white and blue table cloths, not many families hang actual flags outside their house. the only time i remember real patriotism was in the months after 9-11, and even that faded fast.

Israel is a completely different story. Today is memorial day, and every tv station is either turned "off" or playing memorial documentaries on those who have lost their lives to terror or in the line of duty. The stories are heart wrenching, and I cried more than once. Here memorial day (or veterans day) is not just an image of a lone WWII soldier crying at a ceremony... its a living memorial to those who we loose every year.

In complete contrast, Independence Day starts tonight. The Israeli flags have been flying for at least a week, from every car, house and public building. Even the freeway, on which I make my daily commute, is lined with flags. Free flags came with the weekend newspaper, and a coworker offered me her extra flags when she noticed I didnt have any on my car. Our city is hosting a major party, with a well known singer and comedians, and tomorrow we will have close to 80 people celebrating with us in the park- BBQing the israeli way. It is my first Independence Day as an Israeli citizen, and I feel honored to be a part of it. I am proud of my dual citizenship, even with the dfficulties i sometimes face.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

small world.

I decided to take the baby out to the shuk (market) today, to let her look at all the colors and the actions going on. She loves "talking" back to the vendors yelling their prices and to look at all the items. On the way back I stopped at aroma (a coffee shop) to get something to drink... and outside the mall here in KG was a LARGE group of kids.... speaking english!

this is a major event here. i stopped and asked one of the adults where they were from... and of course they were from california! it was a group of 60 some odd middle schoolers, from a jewish day school. i knew the school, and the teacher i talked to knew the school i used to teach at. it was nice to talk to people who come from near me... its something small i know, but its so nice to talk to people who understand how you grew up. even if their upbringing was different, the simple proximity creates a bond. and it just goes to show how small of a world we really live in.

in other news, the city is gearing up to independence day next week. the flags are flying and the bbqs are getting ready. i am really excited to celebrate it for the first time as an israeli myself.

Monday, April 12, 2010

holocaust remembrance day

israelis can be hard to deal with. they are in your face, always in your business and never hesitate to tell you if you are doing something 'wrong'. there are moments living here that i just want to give up, to go back and hide in my safe house in america, and not worry or have to deal with israelis or israel.

but then there are moments. like today, yom hashoah. the siren goes off at 10am, and everyone stops. we were in the israelis version of babies-r-us, buying a new car seat, when the cashier says "its almost 10". I walked to the front door of the store as the siren went off... and everyone just stopped. cars stopped in the middle of the road, their drivers got out to pay their respects. we listened to the siren, each lost in our own thoughts. 65 years have passed, but to israelis, to israel, this is a real pain. as the siren faded away a lone car drove by, and those who had pulled over to pay their respects shouted at it. you dont interrupt remembrance.

all day the tv channels where either off the air or played world war II related movies and shows. this is a real part of israeli life, and i love it. in the states memorial day is filled with bbqs and shopping, here it is a real part of everyones day, everyone takes that time our to really remember what it costs to have a country, and the lives that are so easily given up. i love living in a country where the holidays are really meaningful, where people can appreciate the meaning behind the hallmark card.... even if it means dealing with the bad parts too.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Its still hard to believe how fast this year has gone. Last passover I was seriously pregnant, cooking for my family and friends in my parents guest house and teaching in the states... here we are a year later, with an amazing baby girl, living in israel and not lifting a finger for the holiday. it has its pluses and minuses... but once again its nice to be able to celebrate in a country that celebrates with me.

We spent the seder with yehis grandparents on the moshav. it was nice to get away from the "city".. though it was my first time experiencing seder with his grandparents. his grandmother doesnt trust pre-made food on passover, so she makes everything from scratch.... including the wine and olive oil, made from olives from their own back yard.

in the week of pesach we tried to enjoy the holiday... yehi tried kosher for passover mcdonalds hamburgers, which is quite an amazing feat. we enjoy multiple bbqs in our own backyard. i love the feeling of the whole country being on holiday and really celebrating with us. we also made a trip to jerusalem, to the kotel... huge crowds, lots of heat... but worth it. we also stopped in the new mamilla mall, which was just like being back in the states- tommy, polo, gap, nine west..... quite a show, all for 4 times the price! actually i was surprised that the gap prices werent higher... but i still think ill wait for my trips to the states to buy.

tonight is mimouna, the sephardic holiday for the end of passover. it means a massive party on the moshav, with a live band and tons of food. its a little harder with the baby and passover ending so late... but its time to enjoy bread again!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

baruch dayan haemet

the last couple days have been tough. Everyday has brought bad news, although B"H nothing directly relating to the family. Israel is a small country though, and every death feels close to home. On Friday two soldiers were killed... my BIL who is an officer in the army knew long before anything was posted on the news. One of the soldiers who died went to school with my husband, as did his brother who died in combat 12 years ago. My heart goes out to his family, and the family of the other soldier killed.

One of my husbands neighbors also passed away on Thursday. we spent shabbat in a sad sort of mood, and I am thankful for all the blessings I have. Monday night is the start of Passover, and I will celebrate my freedom and the ability to live the life I want with a loving family in multiple countries. May everyone have a healthy and peaceful holiday, chag sameach

Thursday, March 25, 2010

sometimes i think there should be a test to become a parent...

Very few crazy things happen here in KG. Crime is low, there isnt much to do here after dark (or during the day really...) and its a pretty quiet town. When something does happen, it shocks the community, and since everyone is connected in this town, its hard to not feel affected by it.

Last night a single mother put her four year old son to sleep in their apartment. Her ex-husband lives in a near by moshav (of course the same moshav my husbands parents are from), but it was the mothers turn to watch their kids. Their elder child was at a party, and needed to be picked up... so she left the younger son asleep in his room, and stepped out for just a minute. The four year old woke up, went looking for his mom... and at some point fell off their balcony... on the 10th floor of an apartment building. Two of my husbands cousins were in the rescue team which first got to him, but he was pronounced dead on the scene.

This is one thing I just will never understand about Israeli culture. They pride themselves on the fact that their kids can go outside after dark alone without worry... they have no qualms about taking their infants in the car without seatbelts and no qualms about leaving children alone in the house... i just plain dont understand! There are so many things that could happen with a four year old alone in the house, and I am puzzled as to what the mom was thinking. There are so many times that I get into arguments here about whats safe for my child... its such a pity.

My inlaws are going to the shiva, and we may go also. I feel so horrible for the parents, especially the father. Its such a sudden thing, to have a child one day and then hes gone. baruch dayan haemet

Sunday, March 21, 2010

the perfect weekend

last weekend was the perfect weekend. as a birthday gift from my grandparents we spend the weekend at a hotel in tel aviv. I had kosher sushi with my brother-in-law and his wife, a long walk through tel aviv, time in an antique market, explored Jaffo, got a manicure and spent a long quiet time with just my husband and our baby. It was the first time since she was born that we got away just the three of us... and it was wonderful. There were no schedules, no where we needed to be... just a lot of aimless walking and talking.

sometimes its nice to feel like a tourist. even my husband commented that he feels like a tourist in tel aviv... its almost as different from KG as San Francisco is. Speaking of, the SF JCRC had a meeting at the same hotel we stayed at! I wanted to sneak in and see if I knew anyone, but I didnt. I did however get to people watch- there was a wedding Thursday night that included all of the richest people in israel, from the owner of channel 2 to the owner of a bank. i didnt recognize any of them of course, but my husband was beyond excited.

all in all the weekend was much needed and much appreciated. I feel ready to take on the world... starting with my house. I have started cleaning for passover, but i really need to kick it into high gear. not a ton left to do, but all the hardest things... it will start right after i bake myself a birthday cake!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

getting ready

Living as an expat means that everyday I deal with cultural differences... these can be good and bad, but it makes me open my eyes every time. Passover is coming soon, and while in the states I would be started my menu planning and possibly my cleaning, here in Israel the preparation started the SECOND purim ended. The newspapers are filled with passover sales, all my mother-in-law can talk about is how she is behind on cleaning the house, and I feel guilty every time I realize that I havent even started my preparations.

I guess I have an excuse. In the states I usually plan and organize a seder (or two). The first year we were married we put on a seder for our friends, last year for my family and friends. Here in Israel we are going elsewhere- to my husbands family. That cuts down on my preparation by a significant amount. Being here also means that I have less meals to prepare for the whole week of pesach, due to my in laws insistence that we spend almost every day with them. So I have been pushing off the cleaning part, the only major item on my to-do list.

Well, today I finally gave in to all the pressure and started cleaning. Since our place is small its not actually that big of a deal, and it really does need a thorough cleaning... but with a baby underfoot its 10 times as hard. It still feels good to be able to check off some rooms... and I dont even have an oven to clean this year! Even though we still have two weeks, the whole city is in preparation mode, and its something I am definitely not used to. we are going away next weekend, so I am excited to see how the rest of the country is gearing up. I also get a long school break for the holiday, so we will have a chance to do some sightseeing and get out of the house. the weather has already turned to summer, so it should be a nice time. it really is amazing to live in such a jewish country sometimes.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

passing ulpan... hopefully

Well, I had the oral part of my ulpan test... and I passed with flying colors! I have to take the written part (worth 70% of the final grade) in a week and a half. I feel like Im back in college again, cramming for an exam (though to be honest, we had more papers due than exams).

It rained on Purim (like it apparently always does) and the forecasters say it was our last storm of the winter. The weather has been acting appropriately, reaching the low 80s today on my drive into work. Its both a blessing and a curse here in the desert.

Last week I also experienced my first non-family Israeli wedding (read- first ashkenazi wedding in israel)... and it reminded me more of an American wedding than anything else. I guess I had come to assume that all israeli weddings were like the crazy sephardi events that I am used to, with fireworks, techno music and 500 guests. This wedding was at a small gallery in Yaffo, played typical american wedding music and was much more low key. It was nice to feel more at home at an event, though it was a surprise to me.

We are now on the official countdown until Passover. I have a week left of work, then a month break to get myself organized, then enjoy, the holiday. The preparation for passover here in Israel reminds me almost of christmas in the states- the frenzy starting a month before, the change in grocery stores, the rush to get ready... maybe that seems like a funny comparison, but it fits.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

the last week has been beyond crazy. I worked a couple days, we had a brit to attend, purim parties, baking for mishloach manot, PLUS the intensive ulpan. Not a moment to breathe.

I am back in ulpan aleph to take the final test. Its been an interesting transition from ulpan bet. I do not know my hebrew grammar as much as I would like, but I am amazed by how far I have come in the last 6 months. I know that last year I was in the same place as a lot of the ulpan aleph students... and now I feel so much more comfortable with hebrew... though I am no where near as fluent as i want to be. Its hard because I want to talk to my fellow classmates, but many of them are not able to have discussions in hebrew. I have been struggling to find people who understand what i am going through- the israelis mostly dont get why I struggle with aspects of israeli society, and the new immigrants who do understand dont speak hebrew or english well enough to really discuss it. Every so often their stories come out in class, and its comforting to know that there are other people dealing with the same issues i am.

maybe its because of the holiday, but this week has been difficult emotionally for me. I miss having people to really talk to. Most of Yehis friends/relatives are either older and married with multiple kids (and dont speak any english) or are my age and single (and speak english but dont really want to hang out with kids). Its a hard line to walk. In the states I would go to events at shul or work or a mothers group... here shul is not a place to meet people, I work too far away from where I live (and I am younger than most of my co-workers by about 20 years), and the only mothers group i have found is for babies under 6 months. Its been a struggle. This week I hope to find a moms group for our age bracket... if it exists here.

This is life in a foreign country... its ups, its downs... there is a crazy party going on outside because of Purim, and its nice to know that the country is celebrating with me. chag sameach!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

house hunting

This last month I have learned a lot about house hunting here in Israel... and I think the market says something about Israelis and their mindsets. We are not looking to buy right now, but we are looking to rent again. As the daughter of two engineers, I am always interested in houses... it never hurts to go to an open house!

But here in Israel the process is so different than from in the states. First is the obvious part- here in Israel when they list a house, they count the living room as a "room". So in the US one might have a 3 bedroom house... here in Israel it would be a four room house. Here in the south there are very few places with more than 3 or 4 bedrooms. The size of the rooms and the living spaces are also, in general, much smaller than one would expect in the states.

I also learned something new. Here in Israel, when they give you the size of the house (in square meters of course) they include all area that one would pay tax for... which includes anything covered by the roof. That means that although the house we currently rent is called 80 square meters... there is really only about 60-63 square meters of livable space. This can be hugely decieving, although that big of a difference is unusual.

Living in the south, both rental prices and buying prices are anywhere from half to a third of places in the center... though there tends to be very little new building outside of the moshavim. I am getting used to the sizes of places... though im still hoping to find a hidden american gem somewhere....

Saturday, February 13, 2010

the conflict

One thing that makes my aliyah different from others is that I am married to an Israeli. This means that although I may seem lost in some aspects of Israeli society, I have a large, ready-made sephardic israeli family to show me the ropes. This covers everything from shopping in a grocery store to attending major events. Sometimes it leaves me feeling even more american than usual, but sometimes its nice to have family around.

Last thursday my youngest brother in law became an officer in magav, the israeli border police. We got to attend the ceremony in the west bank, just out past modiin. It was really an exciting experience for him, and we were glad to be there to support him. The other military ceremonies I have been to have been for hundreds of soldiers, so I was surprised to see just 18 or 20 soldiers getting their rank. The head of the police was there to give a speech, and then they recieved their rank.

Following the ceremony, during the typical Israeli style picnic, we got into a discussion about the opening of route 443, which was the freeway we took out to the base. Recently the courts ordered that it be opened to Palestinian traffic, giving the surrounding Palestinian towns a quicker way into Israel proper. My husbands family is strongly right wing, and were all against the opening. As a Californian I was torn... I know that this can lead to many problems, but part of me hates the racist aspect of having a road closed to a local population. There is still a debate going on here about it, and it may be a while before the road actually opens.

There was also an article in the weekend paper about a group of terrorists who were caught in the south, planning a pigua here in KG. This seems very unlikely, as there isnt much here, but this is a stop for many soldiers on their way to bases, especially golani. Luckily my brother-in-laws unit caught them while they were still 70 or so miles away... but its a little scary. I always told people that I am glad to live in the boonies, because no one is purposely trying to attack us... I guess the point is that they want to reach everywhere in Israel. luckily we live in safer times (BH) Heres to a quiet week (and year!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Work has been going well. I love being back in the classroom and having a job, even if it is only part time. I like being a stay at home mom, but I have discovered that I am not great with this age. Its fun to play with babies, but day after day of the same things without adult conversation got to my head. I feel like I am a better mother when I get to spend part of the day out of the house...

Ulpan has also been going well, and I can really feel my hebrew improving. My teacher wants me to go back to Ulpan Aleph and take their graduating test, that way if I want to go back to get my teaching degree here in Israel I will have proof that I took ulpan. apparently you can only get this proof from the first level, not the second. It involves an oral exam and a long (3 hours or something) written test. My teacher and I went over a higher level test and it wasnt horribly difficult, so I think I can do it. The problem is that it means I have to go back to level one- which meets every night for three hours.

On the home front- we got invited to our first non-family wedding here in Israel, which I feel is some sort of milestone. It means that people actually think of us as friends! Its a given of course that its a friend of my husbands... but still, I feel that its one more step towards being 'really' israeli.

I missed the bloggers night in Modiin this week, after catching a cold over the weekend and deciding that it wasnt worth driving an hour to work, an hour back home, then 45 mins each way to the event. I was upset about it too, because I really wanted to meet some of these people who I read about so often. Blogging is funny in that way- you create these connections with people that exist only online.. yet they have helped me so much in this aliyah process, from trying to figure out the israeli bureaucracy, to what kinds of foods to buy in the supermarket. Hopefully next time I will be able to meet up

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


after 8 months of 'maternity' leave I am back in the classroom part time. I have only taught one class so far, but it was a bit of a shock to my system. Being back in front of a classroom feels so natural... but even though I had a lesson plan down the very second of the class, my brain just wasnt back in teacher mode. It didnt help that my students are 10th graders and have only been in israel a week... I think there was a little bit of "OMG its israel" in their mindset... which doesnt really pose well for being back in a 'regular' classroom. We still got through 2/3 of my lesson plan so i am happy... and now i know what to do for day 2.

i have been wanting to go back to work so badly that i was caught by surprise when i found myself worrying about how the baby was doing without me. i love working, but she was in my thoughts the whole time. it will take some adjustment, but at least working only part time gives me some days at home.

Purim is coming up at the end of the month, and i want to begin putting together gift baskets. i dont plan on doing anything too elaborate, since i have never actually made them before, but since i love baking its a great excuse. i can makr all the best food and then get it out of my kitchen so i dont eat it myself! i cant believe its almost purim... this last month has flown by!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Yesterday in Ulpan we were handed a sheet of paper with a series of questions on it in hebrew. We had to rate each question from 1-5 (1 being disagree, 5 being agree), and then we discussed everyones results. I am the youngest in the class, and the newest immigrant (both by a lot of years....). There was one Argentinian who made aliyah in 2001, and the rest of the class is made up of russians, who made aliyah between 10 and 25 years ago. The ONLY question we all agreed on was "are Israelis nice drivers". The answer was a resounding 1 (NO WAY). but that was about the only thing we agreed on.

One question said חבל שבאתי לישראל- too bad that I came to Israel. I put a 3. Ive only been here 5 months, which I dont think is near enough time to make a decision. I miss my family like crazy, and no doubt things have been hard, but I do like living here. A Russian woman next to me said that she put a 3 because it used to be a 5, but after 10 years here she is getting used to it. The Argentinian teared up and said that she put a 1... she loves living here, it is the Jewish homeland and there is nothing better.

Another question said נעים מאוד לעמוד בתור בארץ- It is nice to stand in a line in Israel. We all know that Israel loves its "lines". I put a 2- I dont mind standing in lines really, but lines in Israel arent lines the way americans know it... they are crazy messes! Its all about parking yourself to block everyone else off, to make sure that no one is trying to cut in front of you and fighting your way to the front. I hate it. One woman put a 4- said that she likes to people watch in line, to talk to friends, see the world. The only male in our class, a Russian who is over 80, put a 5- he said that in Russia after the war he would have to get up at 2am to stand in like for 6 hours to get bread for his family... standing in like here is a piece of cake.

We also discussed if every Jew in the world should learn hebrew, if every Jew should live in Israel, if it is fun to learn Hebrew and if Jerusalem was the prettiest city on earth. It was a very interesting conversation, and I loved hearing from more seasoned olim... especially that my mixed feelings about aliyah are perfectly normal. ulpan is a real bonding experience, and I am glad I decided to take it

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

jet lag... still?

This week has made me happy to be a stay at home mom. Baby has decided that sleeping through the night is no longer fun, and has been waking up every hour. We are attempting to move her into sleeping in her own crib at night, which hasnt helped the situation... but when she wakes up in the middle of the night in our bed she just wants to play! Suffice it to say it has been a long couple nights with not much end in sight...

I headed back to Ulpan this week, after an almost three week break. My hebrew understanding and speaking are getting a ton better, but I am still no good at proper grammar, especially when asked out of context. I still use hebrew (or my tortured form of it) about 40% of my daily life, so I am trying... but it still so much easier to fall back into english when I dont know how to say something! This is especially problematic with my husband or his english speaking brother or cousin... because I know I use them as a crutch. Part of me thinks "Ive only been here 5 months, I deserve the break", but the other part of me knows that if I REALLY want to learn the language properly than I am going to have to give in and speak hebrew all the time.

We have been 'learning' about Tu Bshvat in class, and discussing the fruits native to israel and the roots behind the holiday. Its always interesting to discuss religion with my russian classmates, who have very strong opinions about religion (both good and bad). It always amazes me how strongly zionistic my class is... Today they were discussing how their parents always talked about eretz Israel and dreamed about it and passed the beauty on to them.

I was talking to one of my classmates about when she made aliyah, 25 years ago. She said that she grew up thinking that the streets of Israel were really filled with milk and honey... and then she came here to KG to streets filled with trash and people who didnt bathe and left the house a mess. She said she cried for weeks... her dream of Israel had been ruined. When I asked her what she though now, she said that it was a mixture... things have by far gotten better here, and she has gotten used to the fact that Israel is in fact a country that people live in... not just a land in her parents dreams. I think that many immigrants to the US in the early 1900s must have felt the same way when realizing that the streets of America aren't really paved with gold. It was an eye opening conversation... and I am thankful for everything we have

Saturday, January 16, 2010


One of my biggest problems in the 5 months since we made aliyah has been my lack of a schedule. Growing up I went straight from school to college to grad school to working... and always had a set daily schedule that I lived by. Making aliyah and doing the stay at home mom thing have completely messed me up, and I think thats part of the reason why I have been so grumpy. I thrive on schedules and I miss having one.

But it looks like things are finally shaping up. In two weeks I go back to work part time, teaching. Even though I have a long commute, I look forward to being back in the classroom. Teaching has always been my passion, and I have missed being away from it. It will also give me a couple days a week of "adult conversation" in english, which I have missed terribly. We will see how well I do with the long commute.

Also, through the random connections that is Israel, I have a meeting with Partners 2000 here in KG. P2K is a program run by the jewish agency which brings American post-college kids here to Israel for... a year? For part of that time they are placed in needy communities, including right here in KG. A daughter of a friend of mine was helping them out, but thought that I would also be interested in hosting home stays and the like. Im not really sure what they will ask of me, but I am excited at the opportunity, and to have more english speakers my age around.

There is also a bloggers meeting coming up, the first one I will be able to attend, at least hopefully. I am so curious to meet people in real life who I read all the time, and who have helped me prepare for the aliyah process without even knowing it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

back in the land

Sometimes a person just needs a change of scenery to put their head back in the right place. Before I left for my visit to the states I was fed up with Israel. I was annoyed by the Israelis who always wanted to be in my face, I was sick of the hot weather in December and I was tired of always having to struggle with my hebrew in the grocery store and the bank. The bad was beginning to outweigh the good and I was just tired.

I spent my two weeks in the states visiting family, stocking up on food that I cant get here in Israel, relishing in not having to think so much in the grocery store or restaurants, and enjoying the colder weather. I did not experience culture shock as most people said I would, but I did get the feeling as if I was just living another life. Things in California are just so natural to me, it felt as if I had never left. The very essence of my life in California is just so completely different from here in Israel, and it is something I am still trying to get used to.

Today, back in Israel, I realized that I was not so annoyed with living here. I enjoyed the challenge of speaking hebrew again, I loved that Maya could play with her cousins, I was happy to be back at home with my husband, and it meant something again to be back here. I also start work tomorrow, after a nearly 8 month maternity leave. I am looking forward to finding my schedule, and I am excited about the work. It seems I just needed some time in my own world to get perspective on my life and why we are here. I still miss my family like crazy, and I definitely needed the time with them, but I am happy to be back. Hopefully this feeling will stay with me until my next visit to the states...

Thursday, January 7, 2010


We spent the last couple days visiting my brother in college, and it really got me thinking about the life changes I have made since I started college, which was only 7 years ago. In that time I have become more religious, studied abroad, met my husband, graduated, got my masters degree, got married, had a baby, moved to israel and started working.

We all make choices in life, and being back here where I grew up has really put that into perspective for me. I honestly dont think there is a right and wrong with the choices I have been making (except for marrying my husband of course) they just lead to very different life paths. I chose a college major that I loved- while it doesnt ever guarantee work it is my passion, and I am so thankful that I was able to study what I wanted. We chose to have a baby after less than a year of marriage- while it has been hard I feel so very blessed to be able to have her, and I enjoy being a relatively young mother. We chose to move to Israel- while this has been hard, I know that this is something my husband wants and needs... and I am thankful that we have supportive families and the opportunity to follow dreams.

These thoughts have come into even sharper focus because I am very aware of the aging of my parents and grandparents. B"H we have lots of time together, but I know that my choice in moving to Israel has put a large physical distance between us, which in its very nature changes our relationship. We live in the amazing world of the internet and skype, but it is not the same as being in person. Everyday I struggle with the distance, and still have not figured out a way to come to terms with the situation. Maybe it is something I will never be able to fully figure out, but I hope there is some middle ground.

I cannot know what will come of these choices we have been making, but I know that I only have this life to live, and there is no point in regret. I am excited to be going back to Israel to start work and really make my own place in the society. Hopefully being back in the workplace will give me a frame of reference so I can finally begin to feel like I am not such an outsider in Israel.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

California dreaming

Well, its been a quick week back here in the states. We survived a VERY long flight, made even longer with the extra boost in security after the underwear bomber. It is not easing to hold a fussy baby while also emptying out your suitcase in the middle of the airport so it can get screened. Many people complain about El Al's service, but the flight attendants on my flight were down right amazing, offering to help with the baby, clean out bottles, switch my seat to a bulk-head... it really made the flight a ton easier.

since we have been here I have been doing my shopping and visiting family. The baby caught a cold and seems to be getting her first tooth all at the same time, so its been a long couple nights. there has been some culture shock, but it more seems as if I am just living two different lives. There is the American me and the Israeli me... which is funny considering that I am not really Israeli at all. The lifestyles are just so different, as are our family connections. It has been interesting, and I will write more about it when we get back. for now enjoy your new year!