Wow!! We’ve reached a significant milestone: Three months in Israel. It is so hard to believe that we’ve been here for this long.
Living in Israel provides one with numerous opportunities for thought. Thoughts of the ‘matzav’ (situation) Israel finds itself in on any given day, of security and safety, of the political situation here and abroad, and of course of one’s own personal, religious, social or familial matzav. This week I was privileged to see and feel the appreciation of Israel from the vantage point of my aunt’s experiences and reactions. I wrote last week that she decided to visit here for a month which is a nice, long visit for anyone. But my Aunt Esther, my mother’s sister, hasn’t been here since 1994 and even then she didn’t see or experience as much as she maybe would have liked. I am not sure, but I think the visit before that was in 1969. It is fitting that the first full week of her visit coincided with our twelfth as olim, because it reminded me of my initial excitement upon deciding on aliyah and landing here and fulfilling our dream. She didn’t come with much of a prepared agenda, but did come with intention of studying and seeing as much around Yerushalayim as possible. I decided it fell upon me to ensure this would be the very best experience possible for her and I’ve taken her under my wing. I enrolled her in my Ulpan class (level ‘Hay’) which she is enjoying immensely. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her skill in Hebrew speaking is amazing!! We went to the Begin museum the other day and then walked around Yemin Moshe- the windmill, Mishkanot Shaananim. The views are spectacular there and she simply wanted to see, learn about the area, and simply walk and talk. I have been to the Begin museum before and really love it. My Aunt Esther summed it up simply by saying that it really tugs at your heart strings. She wanted to read everything about him and asked many questions of our guide. Like a sponge absorbing water, Esther absorbs knowledge, experiences. Esther does not enjoy being in the limelight in any way or being the focus of discussion so I won’t belabor the point, except to say that I appreciate her being here for her visit serves to remind me how important it is for me to be here. Not that I need reminding, but it is very refreshing. She said she gets the chills when I tell people that I live here: Case in point: In the Begin Museum, there is a photo of one of the earlier settlements established during and because of Menachem Begin, and that ‘settlement’ is Maaleh Adumim. When I told the guide at the museum that that is where I live, he and the other people on the tour were intrigued and Esther felt amazed and proud. Maaleh Adumim has the reputation of being a beautiful, clean, nice place to live (it is!!) Anyway, this week will continue with ulpan, a family simcha, and some touring with my aunt.
Yechezkel continues his army preparation which includes physical fitness training including swimming and running, and spiritual and religious training which includes in-depth torah study both with chevruta and independently, and discussions and Shabbat experiences with people in different communities. This Shabbat, parshat Chaya Sara, instead of going to Chevron, to where he has visited many times and loves, he went with the shanah bet boys to Bat Yam to bring ruach and kiruv to the community there in need. This is right up Yechezkel’s alley. He thrives on these experiences.
Eitan continues to do well overall in school and progressing very well with his Hebrew language speaking abilities. He is way ahead of me, and is even developing an Israeli accent. History, physics, and ezrachut remain a challenge, but with tutoring, he seems to be handling studies well. There are times when he longs for the routine of school in Rambam and of course he misses his friends. He wants to go back to NY to visit, but is very happy he is living here. Just today, at lunch, he was reviewing something he learned in his Torah class in which he is studying Shmuel Aleph. He said that it is so cool that when he is learning this material, he’ll stop and think momentarily and realize that it all happened here. He finished studying Yehoshua and Shoftim already and recalled that when he was learning about the battle for Yericho, he looked out the window of his classroom to beyond the Judean hills and realized that just over them, not far from where he was studying, is where the battle occurred. You can’t beat that feeling. It just doesn’t get stale. Now THAT is aliyah at its best!!
Tomorrow is Eitan’s birthday, and this will be the first year in which we won’t be celebrating with a Carvel ice cream cake. 😦 He is really missing that but we hope to have a fun week anyway, even though he has a full day of school tomorrow. But we will celebrate with dinner, movie, or something. Socially, he’s doing ok, but again, there are challenges with making friends outside of school. But he is a great kid and in due time, we’re sure he will have those close friendships outside of school as well.
Our house/apartment search continues and is sometimes very discouraging. We found the perfect house, with the perfect kitchen and great bedrooms and bathrooms, in an ideal location, requiring little if any interior or exterior work. We were prepared to offer, but the owners pulled out and decided against selling. So we continue looking. Have to view it as a sign that it wouldn’t have been right for us, yet it is still disappointing. But we move on…to our first electric outage in Israel. Woo hoo!! Erev Sshabbat and little if any electricity and no hot water. Fun. Meyer was on the phone with the landlords and the electricians and we have temporary fix until tomorrow (Sunday) when additional investigative work will be done into what specific electrical problem we have and what fixing it will entail. Fortunately, a friend down the block called an hour and half before Shabbat and when I told him what was going on, he insisted we come for dinner if electricity didn’t return before Shabbat. He said if he found out we ate in the dark, he’d be really angry with us. Well, we didn’t have to take him up on his offer, but it sure is great to know we could have if we had to.
There was a demonstration today in Har Chotzfim, the silicon valley of Israel, in protest of Intel opening on Shabbat. For some reason, Intel determined it more profitable to remain open on Shabbat, even though it goes against the Shabbat law (there is an employment law regarding shabbat here). There are efforts and negotiations underway to get non-Jewish workers to work then, but there has been no decision by the company thus far. A charedi sect gathered there and protested, shouting ‘shabbas’ and throwing things at television cameras and at reporters. It was sad to see this on television tonight even though I agree with the premise of the law. But it is sad to see the divisiveness and the chilul Hashem displayed by the fighting between the two sides. And the Goldstone report debacle continues to make headlines and editorials in the papers here and I’m sure everywhere else. I read Meni Kowslowski’s article in the Young Israel Bulletin (we received from Zivotofsky’s-thanks) and his sentiments are mine. I do hope Judge Goldstone is uncomfortable and I do wish him many sleepless nights. He will go down in the annals of Jewish History as just another in the line of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish politicians or historians espousing such rhetoric under the guise of ‘fairness’. There was nothing unbiased or fair about this report. As is said here, this report was chad-tzdadit-one sided- and was designed to be so from the beginning of the investigation. The Palestinian terrorists are not ‘armed groups’. They are armed terrorists bent on hatred and the destruction of Israel. It is so depressing sometimes to read or listen to news reports, but sometimes we have to take the news seriously and sometimes with just a grain of salt. That’s what we have to do. We have to go on living life, being proud of who we are and stand up for ourselves. We need to believe in who we are and what we stand for. And sometimes , we need to just live. Live and have fun. Enjoy life because, especially here, you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Speaking of enjoying life, Meyer and I have finally, this morning (Sunday morning) resumed our fitness training because, well, we both kind of feel like we’ve been lacking there a lot. And for me, specifically, I haven’t exercised since I’ve been here and actually, since after Michal’s wedding last year and I’ve pretty much turned into a fat pig!! I’ve been feeling sluggish, run down and just not myself. I do walk a lot, but when combined with eating way too much, the result is not a good one. So this morning we did a 5k run/walk. We walked up the hills and ran the flat and downhill parts. It’s a start. Our goal is to do the reverse in the next two weeks: Run the uphill, walk the downhill. And then, run it all. Maybe next year the Kineret marathon?? Who knows, we’ll see. Maybe when some of you come to visit, I’ll have lost some of the weight I’ve put on.. one can only hope!!
I read Devorah Teitelbaum’s article about Gilad Shalit (kol hakavod, Devorah!!) and find it to be a great segue to close this email. Yes, let’s continue to pray for his release and the release of the others being held as prisoners. When you walk by that tent, go in. Sit for a few minutes. Think. Sign the petition. Hopefully soon, there will be no need for that tent and that street by the Prime Minister’s house will return to normal, like most other smaller streets in Yerushalayim, and we pedestrians or car passengers can pass by, going about our business, in blissful oblivion. Missing you all, especially my Michal. I love you dearly Michal. Keep in touch everyone. We love hearing about everyone in West Hempstead and we yearn for the continued connection with all.
With love from your Israeli friends,