Despite the fact we were an hour late in taking our shuttle to LAX(the guys were up past midnight saying final goodbyes to friends), we were met at the airport check-in by our wonderful friend,inspiration, and personal chazzanit(cantor), Britta. That’s when my excitement really began to kick in. We were actually doing this wild and crazy thing, and I was departing with joy-and song!! Singing loudly to the embarrassment of my son and bewilderment of the huge Christian pilgrimage tour bound for the Holy Land:”The Lord will return the remnant of the Children of Israel to Zion with songs of joy in their mouths” In Hebrew no less! Thank you, Britta, for the great send off!!
No sleep on our 14 1/2 hour flight. I was too excited – and too busy practicing my Hebrew with the flight attendants. When they found out we were making Aliyah, we got the royal treatment of gifts, service, pointers, people to contact if we needed help. I had really expected to cry the whole time. No such. As the Psalm goes, it was like being in a dream and I kept waiting to wake up. Even though we landed at Ben Gurion around 2, it took a few hours to process us. We waited for what seemed eternity in a room full of Russians(Ukrainians), Ethiopians, and French who were also immigrating. It was truly fulfillment of ancient prophecy and we were part of a continuing history!! Then came the beginning of days of paperwork as we got new entry visas, pictures, and money for settlement (the first payment to our Sal Klitah or absorption basket). Our shuttle to take us to our new home didn’t arrive until after 6pm. The driver spoke no English. He got us to Karmi’el well enough, but I had to navigate him to our home at night via GoogleMaps – in Hebrew!!! Drew, if you are reading this, I can’t begin to thank you enough for the set of Pimsleur lessons you gave me. I am well prepared to tackle life as an Israeli. Ain b’ayaah: no problems! Our landlords, Rahel and Haggai -pronounced hog-eye – we waiting for us with outstretched arms and dinner!! Also there to meet us were friends, Shoshannah and Yossi, who made Aliyah from Chicago 3 years ago. We had prayed for the right house and a nice landlord; good neighbors; everything for weeks before we left. Thanks be to G-d, we let Him do all the work and have stepped into an amazing house in a mountaintop neighborhood. We wouldn’t know how wonderful things were until the next morning.
We have a billion sheckel view from the balcony that wraps around the entire floor of our bedroom: Haifa Bay to the Southwest reminds me of Malibu and Santa Monica’s String of Pearls. We can see Mt Carmel and directly to the South, the homes of small villages dotting the adjacent mountain tops. To the East are the rolling hills of the Galilee and other nearby towns. We spent our first days going from office to office registering for my name change from Tracy to my Hebrew name, Tamar. A couple funny things: John’s middle name is “Emmett” which is the Hebrew word for “truth” so John is officially “in.” Also without vowels most people read Dunbar as Denver, so I’m married to the 70s folk singer! We got our Teudat Zehoot, our citizenship papers and national ID cards, our new phone numbers, medical insurance with visits to the clinic, new bank accounts set up, new internet service, maps and tours of the city, bus passes since we won’t have a car – all in Hebrew. Translating has been a challenge – quite fun. And I’m learning more and more at an alarming clip, but quite frankly, at the end of each day my head is ready to explode!!!!
So far, we’ve enjoyed 2 dinner invitations from other Karmielites and pizzas delivered to us by our super sweet realtor. Everyone is quite eager to help from the lady at the bank (we found bringing a box of pastries goes a long way to great service) to our city manager and neighbors. Navigating through the paperwork, going across town from one office to another has been brutally taxing – it’s been atypically cold and rainy here the past few days and the big suitcase with my warm clothes, PJs, and jeans is on the boat. We are exhausted beyond belief, and the reality of it all has not sunk in yet, but it’s all part of the adventure. We’ve had the softest of landings, none of us have melted down, and lots of patience and a sense of humor glosses over all difficulties.