Posted onMarch 21, 2015
The big surprise was the early arrival of the shipping crew: two days earlier than expected! They arrived at noon on Monday and started packing up the entire house. We had the foresight to remove the mostly-packed suitcases into one of the bedrooms and some of the important things we’d need- papers, the binder of immigration documents, medicines, and cosmetics. By 7am Tuesday, they were back in full force with 5 teams of 2 packing up EVERYTHING in different rooms and our garage. And I mean EVERYTHING- into our 40 foot container. They took it all! Including things we meant to give to the girls-piles I’d sorted in the garage- including items we were going to sell,donate, or keep: in the living room a lovely side table with prescription glasses; keys to the house and cars;more important papers(taxes documents and house contracts)- and literally just plain trash. Yup, full trash cans to be thrown out and bins in the garage full of onions and potatoes. It will be interesting to see (and smell) our container when it is delivered in May. My main suitcase filled with clothes was also shipped – something I wouldn’t realize until Day Two in Israel.
We spent the next two weeks in our now empty and echo-filled home with no kitchen utensils, one desk with borrowed computer monitor, an air mattress and some sleeping bags and lots of memories floating about like ghosts in the shell of our home.
There was still so much left to do and we were making endless lists mentally and on paper. I was called in for one final interview, partially due to some “interesting” emails I had received, and to finalize our steps for departure, immigration, and checklists of a myriad of things to be done upon our arrival. I felt a bit like Moses before Pharaoh petitioning the Agency to just let us go already.
In the weeks preceding, we had been in contact with an Israeli realtor who was truly heaven sent. After the sale of our home, we’d contacted one realtor, and after 3 weeks of getting nowhere, with time ticking to find a home, Tal appeared on the scene ready to help. Within 3 days she found us a house to rent long-term within our budget. It seemed too good to be true. Another 2 1/2 weeks were spent negotiating our contract- with realtors, lawyers and translators on both sides. On the last day, when we needed to give shippers and Nefesh BNefesh (sponsor group) our new address, the final contract was signed. However, we found our American bank was unable to wire the money into our land lady’s Israeli account!! Patriot Act? FARC? Recent sanctions against Israel by the Obama administration due to Netanyahu’s speech to Congress? Time for creativity!!!
After a week of changing dollars into sheckels; closing accounts and utilities; tenting the house against termites; transferring car titles to daughters and donating the old Hyundai; getting new passport photos (we found out we didn’t have enough); and tearful goodbyes, the Big Day finally arrived.
How fitting that we were leaving at this time of year! Pre-Passover for the Jewish people and the Lenten period of sacrifice and change for the Catholics. A time of giving up of possessions and self; a time of intense introspection – a cleaning out of all the chummetz, the leaven, the unwanted and unholy, in our lives and our homes. It was easy to identify with the Hebrews of old girding their loins to hastily flee all that was familiar to them to head out into uncharted territory and a strange, new land that would soon be home. The week the shippers came, I also thought of my grandparents leaving their Russian shtetl for the long journey to America. Just as Grandma Weissman had done, I carefully wrapped my Shabbat candlesticks , Kiddush cup, Havdalah set and mezzuzahs from the doorways to set up home in the Promised Land, the land which is my inheritance spiritually and legally. We dance in circles… EXODUS!