The nation mourns. As you’ve all certainly heard by now, this week was a tragic week for the Ramon family, for the Israeli air force and indeed, for all of Israel. So tragic is the loss of Assaf Ramon, the son of Ilan and Rhona Ramon and we feel it so deeply. Flags were flown at half staff here in Israel and newspaper reporters and I’m sure television reporters (we don’t have a television yet, or much of anything else for that matter…more about that later) gathered in droves to cover the story of the family’s reaction and emotions, Assaf’s friends reactions, and those of regular citizens who were so moved by and touched by this brave young man’s short life that they felt compelled to write about and speak of their own feelings. Ordinary citizens travelled to the funeral, to offer whatever solace and comfort could be given to such a family. I don’t know that there is any such comfort. Assaf was laid to rest next to his father, Ilan, after what was a very moving and tear rendering funeral. Assaf’s mother Rhona, spoke of her Assaf, of how angry she is because she wanted him near her for just a little while longer. She referred to him as ‘melech haolam’ ‘king of the world’. Indeed, from what we’ve learned, he was a brilliant, fine, kind, family oriented young man who had the world at his fingertips. He chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and had dreamed himself of being an astronaut to be closer to and understand his dad. He left his mark on this world and we can only hope that somehow, his mother finds some peace and finds the ability to go on. I’m sure those of us who are mothers can’t even fathom how.
It is hard to believe we’ve been here for a month now. Some things feel routine, others, not so. We shop, take buses, and go on our way like every Israeli, yet we still enjoy the status of ‘oleh chadash.’ Meyer continues his job search. He had an interview this week with the owner of a large optical chain but he wasn’t offered anything close to a viable salary and the hours and commute were ridiculously long so we both said forget it. It’s not worth killing himself and never seeing Eitan or me, for a meager salary. He observed a vision training practice and will go for another visit there next week, and he has another job interview on Monday after Rosh Hashanah and another job offer, so hopefully he will be gainfully employed soon.
Eitan was somewhat sick this week, and we took him to a doctor with whom I was really not impressed. Basically a scatter brain who did everything but really check him out. So we will be switching doctors, but need to wait 3 months to do so. Very frustrating and I miss the ease I had with medical care when we were in the states. Yechezkel was sick as well and Meyer took him to a different doctor who was much better …more attentive and approachable. So we’ll probably stick with him. We need to get established with all of our physician specialist needs. All in due time.
Moving day was on Wednesday and on Tuesday we had to pack up the apartment we were living in to move to the house we rented for the year in a different area of Maaleh Adumim. None of us wanted to leave the apartment, as we’d grown comfortable in it and we dreaded having to pack again. The people in Mitzpeh Navo are friendly and it’s a beautiful area. We think we’ll end up back there, but for now, we are here. We moved in on Wednesday with the anticipation that our lift would arrive then as well. I went to Ulpan in the morning, and rushed back to wait with Meyer for our lift. It was not to be. While in Ulpan, I received a call from a Swedish reporter who wanted to do a piece on a new immigrant’s life in Israel and in Maaleh Adumim in particular. She was given my name by the community Aliyah coordinator here. I was hesitant and asked some questions, re: the agenda of the paper, its political stance, and, why me? So I placed some calls to the aliyah coordinator here and to our friends in Karnei Shomron, who are very politically astute and politically active. The concern I had was this: would my words be misconstrued, and would we or residents of Maaleh Adumim be portrayed negatively. Our friend Steve advised to be careful what I say and to be prepared, but in the end it couldn’t hurt. So, I discussed with Meyer who really was unsure if we should go ahead with the interview, but in the end, we did. So I arrived to our bare and empty house and the reporters soon followed. It was quite amusing at first in that we only had three broken chairs to sit on but like everything else in Israel, we made do. So we sat while awaiting the lift, and answered questions relating to why we moved to Israel, why we chose to live here in Maaleh Adumim, how we feel about Maaleh Adumim being referred to as a ‘settlement’, why we chose to leave America, what we hoped to accomplish and contribute to this country, and of course, how we would feel if the borders of Israel would revert to pre-1967 borders. I will not bore you with the answers we gave. Suffice to say, it was an interesting experience, our responses were positive, honest, intuitive and were provided proudly. The Swedish version of the article will be out today (any Swedish speakers out there?) and the English version will follow in a few weeks. I didn’t make it in the MORE magazine article but now we’ve made it big… to the Swiss papers!
Well, we did not receive our lift of belongings on Wednesday, OR Thursday. I was rather displeased, actually exasperated by this point, to say the least. Have any of you seen me throw a temper tantrum? Not a pretty site. Seriously though, it was more like a crying-fest. At this point in time, I just want my creature comforts. I want my bed, a comfortable chair to sit on, my new TV!! Fortunately, we anticipated such a circumstance prior to our departure from the states and purchased ‘luxurious’ new air mattresses. Well, sleeping on air mattresses on hard Israeli tile floors with sheets and only two blankets between the three of us is oh, such a back aching experience. But we manage. We ordered dinner on Wednesday night from Burger’s Bar and a new friend who lives nearby came over with a couple of beers to lighten the mood and cheer us up. (I actually think Meyer was in cahoots with him and really wanted the beers to ‘soothe the beast’ in meJ) In any event, the lift will arrive this morning, of all times, erev Rosh Hashanah, which means we had to change our plans for the chag at the last minute. So again, our cousins to the rescue! We received invitations from Meyer’s cousin Deena, and my cousins Debra and Wendy. Debra, who invited first and has the largest house insisted we all come for Rosh Hashanah to enjoy and celebrate with them. We all, including our nephew Barry, look forward to some rest and relaxation (on beds!!) And good food and company. It means so much to us to have friends and family around on whom we can depend.
Well, since the lift will be here shortly, I must sign off. We are adjusting to Israeli life. There are things of course we don’t like and are finding difficult to adjust to. But, there is a special aura in the people here, especially at this time of year. Most people are exceedingly friendly and wishes for a good year abound. Wherever we go, to whomever we speak, we are offered genuine good wishes. Whether in the supermarket, pharmacy, bus, anywhere, from religious Jew to non religious Jew, from refrigerator deliveryman to doctor to average ‘Joe’ on the street, everyone wishes everyone else a good year, a happy year, and a healthy year.
And so I close this latest edition of Stepner happenings in Israel with sincere wishes to all for a year filled with happiness, good health, and friendship to all. We miss you all and appreciate the emails and phone calls. Please continue to keep us informed of the events in your lives. May this New Year usher in the release of Gilad Shalit and may you and your families prosper in good health always. And for Israel of course, I pray for a year of peace, not sacrifice, for our government and leaders to stand strong against our enemies and for them to possess the wisdom, courage and brevity to stand up to the world in her defense, and for our soldiers to be proud in their mission knowing we are proud of them. May our soldiers and our children know no more war.
Most of all, to Michal and Chezky, Mom and David: We love you and miss you dearly and can’t wait to see you. To Susan, Yaakov and family, Marc, Tova, Gary and family, Dodie, Yisroel and family, Mom and Dad Stepner, and to Solie and Rachelle and family, we send to you our love from abroad. We miss you all dearly and hope this year ushers in all that you hope for.
Shana Tova, Shnat briut,
P.S. You will all be happy to know that our lift arrived, belongings are all in one piece. The piano looks great, which was my biggest fear. Now, the hard part of unpacking begins. WOHOOO!!