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!