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!