Well, we have now been living in Israel for over five months. It is hard to believe that this much time has gone by. It seems like just yesterday, we were saying goodbye and preparing ourselves for our new lives in Israel and being welcomed, as if we were celebrities, upon landing here. So much has happened in these months both here, in the States, with our family…with life. Monotonous it has not been.
I wrote in my last email of the glorious and magnificent weather we have been enjoying as most of you have been enduring freezing winter weather. As is said, ‘all good things must come to an end.’ This week, north to south, Israel was slammed, and I mean slammed, with torrential rains, gale force winds, and cold temperatures. We had over 36 continuous hours of this weather and the Negev and south received in one day, half its annual rainfall. Good news that this is, there were unfortunately resulting tragedies . A few people drowned when their car was swept away by the flooding and Eilat was cut off from the rest of the country for a few hours on Monday as the main highway leading there was flooded. But, rain is still needed so we continue to pray for it.
It is often said that Israel should be a light unto the nations. We yearn for peace, we fight for survival, we dream of life without anti-Semitism, without global anti-Israel sentiment. We live. We do what we must. This week, despite the Goldstone Report, despite the Turkish anti-Israel television series that portrays IDF soldiers as murderers(!), despite the diplomatic gaffe by the deputy foreign minister to the Turkish ambassador, (diplomatically, not the best thing, but oh, what a statement. I believe Israel needs to stop apologizing and start standing up for herself in the international arena. It should not be tolerated that a close ‘ally’ of Israel is permitted to disseminate such nonsense to its populace); despite all of this, Israel demonstrated to the world this week her prowess, skill, expertise in aiding a nation stricken so horribly by the devastating earthquake. Israel demonstrated, indeed continues to demonstrate so beautifully and honorably the meaning of caring for a fellow human being. No other country in the world, none of Haiti’s close neighbors, including the US, was able to do what Israel has done in record time. IDF doctors, nurses, canine units, search and rescue personnel, and Magen David Adom and Zaka rescuers all arrived and set up field hospitals that were up and running in record time. Life saving operations were performed, rescues and safe havens given to these victims before much of the rest of the world’s countries even arrived In Haiti. Israel seems to have been the leader in providing aid to Haiti’s victims with the world trying to follow suit. The media, thankfully, has portrayed these rescuers positively to the world. It really has been a source of pride to this nation. Israel is vilified by world media for most things, really, for anything, but here, this week, the world has been impressed. It’s a nice respite from the usual negativity we read in the news.
Each week in Ulpan, someone speaks to the class in Hebrew of course, on a topic of interest to him/her. Last week, a gentleman in our class spoke about his aliyah last December from Toronto and about his job here in Israel. He wrote a beautiful song entitled ‘Zeh lo pashut ma sheasinu’ (it’s not simple what we have chosen to do) and sang it to the class. It brought tears to our eyes, because it is so true.. Nothing has been simple in our decision to make aliyah, nevertheless, we all take pride in this accomplishment. Every once in a while, we need an uplifting moment like that. But then he spoke about what he does for a living here, something that in my view (and in many others’ in my class) is somewhat controversial. And lo and behold, the very next day, the Jerusalem Post had articles and editorials about the very subject. Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) was founded on the premise of aiding persecuted and oppressed Jews from around the world, Jewish refugees from Europe and other countries to resettle in the US and elsewhere. Indeed, my own mother was assisted by HIAS. But in recent years, this need has diminished. Jews now have a home. So, HIAS has redirected its expertise to assist refugees from all backgrounds. Admirable. The problem is that there are many people from African countries making their way to Israel through Sinai. These people are not true asylum seekers. There are other countries that could help them. They are given temporary visas and then reevaluated at a later date. It’s a dilemma here. There are many who remain illegally. It’s a drain on many systems. Sometimes, perhaps, Israel should be a light unto HERSELF. Something to ponder.
Anyway, our Ulpan class this week went on a tiyul to the Hebrew University academic department of Hebrew language. A researcher/professor spoke to us about how words are chosen and incorporated into every day language. Some are formulated from similar words found in the torah, some words have no source but are created based on the root of the words, the meaning, from other languages, etc. Some words are easily accepted into everyday language, some don’t make it. It was really quite a fascinating experience. We were taken to a replica of Ben Yehuda’s (father of modern day Hebrew) office and saw his actual writings and learned a great deal about him. It was he and his wife who decided to speak only Hebrew to each other and family…indeed, he formulated much of the language as there was not much spoken Hebrew before his time. There is so much to learn about him. This was a really fascinating learning experience.
Meyer is back on his exercise routine..with a vengeance. He ran this morning the entire loop of Maaleh Adumim..5km..doesn’t sound like much, but if you take into consideration the topography here, you will understand that 5k here is unlike most 5k runs. It is extremely hilly and the hills are tough to navigate. So it is a victory over his sciatica, and he sets his goals higher. He informed me he would love to run to Jerusalem..and will I join him?? OY!! I am not there yet, not even close. I have taken to walking for a while. The concrete and hills are a little more difficult for me and I tire a bit more than I used to, so for now, I will walk. Hopefully, more than two times a week.
Eitan and Yechezkel are both doing well. Yechezkel went last week one evening with Sandy and Mark Bindiger to an army base to deliver popcorn and sweets to the soldiers on duty there. They offered stickers, food, comfort to these soldiers and letters of support ( I think letters the Bindiger’s brought with them from HANC students) and it was indeed a rewarding experience for all, one that Yechezkel in particular will not soon forget. Nothing much else is new for either Yechezkel of Eitan, except that Eitan is very excited this week now that some of his American friends have arrived and hopefully will be getting together with them. We are equally thrilled to have many of you here in Israel and wish you’d stay!! We will be spending this Shabbat in the old city, specifically, in Yeshivat Hakotel for a family Shabbat program for those boys going into the army this year. We will be davening and dancing down to the kotel tonight with the boys and dinner to follow. We though, are having dinner with Michael and Debbie Block in their apartment. They graciously invited us to join them, and the dear friends they are, we graciously accepted. It is so good to have them here and we look forward to fun, laughs, good drink and company. It will be a wonderfully, enjoyable evening. Tomorrow we will be eating with the yeshiva and attending the programs and lectures they have. All in all, it presumably will be a delightful and enjoyable Shabbat for all. We are also having dinner on Monday night with the Ehrenreichs, Tabers and Himbers and are very excited to see them all. We also entertained our niece Adina one night for dinner this week as she is here on her very first visit to Israel. And Tova and Gary are arriving this week as well and are staying with us for about a week and a half. There is nothing like having family here. I know it will be extremely hard for us (me) when everyone leaves, but then we count down for Pesach when the best visitors of all, (sorry everyone, but children are always first), Michal and Chezky, will be here again. We can’t wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My job search continues and I spend hours on the computer searching, reading about companies here, sending emails, sending my CV and making contacts with people. Its tiring and intense, but the good news is I have my first (and only so far) job interview this Sunday at the biomedical park (called Hadassit)
at Hadassah Hospital. It is a clinical research center and I am meeting with the vice president of new business development. Hopefully it will go well.
We have other good news to report as well. We are now officially homeowners in Israel. We have purchased an apartment in the Mitzpeh Navo section of Maaleh Adumim. It is currently being built and will be ready in approximately one year. So we go from owning a home in West Hempstead built in 1928, to owning a home in Israel built in 2009-2010. It is the last building of the complex being built and we got in at the last possible moment. An opportunity not to be missed. It’s a little surreal to me to know now that we are homeowners here. It’s a sense of permanence…a good thing, but strange nonetheless.
In closing, I want to thank those of you (Ruth, Gitta, Debbie, Susan, Mom, Tova, and others) who have given me the encouragement, words of comfort, and hugs from the distance when I’ve needed them the most. It’s not always easy and we do miss everyone and sometimes, well, it’s just tough. It’s those times, often unbeknownst to you, when I receive those encouraging letters, phone calls, or whatever, that get me over the slump I may be in. So thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship, love, encouragement and warmth. I am really sincere. I hope our friendships continue unabated for many years to come.
I have to sign off now and prepare for Shabbat. We wish you all a Shabbat Shalom. For those of you here, I hope it is an extraordinarily meaningful Shabbat to be celebrating here in our homeland. For those of you back in the States, we wish you a wonderful meaningful Shabbat as well. We miss you. Come and visit!! And as always, l pray for our leaders to have the strength and courage to withstand world oppression, negative opinion, negative pressure. May our soldiers be fortified with courage and strength and of course, here’s to hoping Gilad Schalit is finally released, somehow.
Oh, I forgot one other source of pride for Israel. Shahar Peer is forging ahead in tennis this week at the Australian Open. She has been playing magnificently despite protests in New Zealand prior to the open and despite ongoing anti Semitic sentiments. Sports should be the one arena where world politics does not rear it’s ugly head. I am a dreamer. But here’s to a successful tournament for her and additional pride for Israel!!
With much love to all,