It’s hard to believe almost a year and a half have passed since we made Aliyah. We hit the ground running and haven’t stopped – or looked back. Everything is a new experience – some things take a lot of getting used to; others just make us stop and wonder – and laugh (Sometimes out loud. Hysterically). In this post, I thought I’d share with you in picture form some of those beautiful, different, and sometimes crazy things…
The first interesting experience was the day we arrived and were escorted to immigrant services at the airport. It was something that placed me in the footsteps of my father’s family as they entered America. Four brothers; four different dates of entry; four different names or spelling variations. Here in Israel, everything is done in Hebrew as it’s the official language. Our surname, Dunbar, of Scottish origin, was spelled out in Hebrew as “Denver.” The vowels are negotiable, the “B’s” sometimes interchanged for “V’s,” which is why my maiden name, Weissman, comes out Weismann or Veitzman. Anyway, my husband is now “John Denver.” Pretty funny for us, but even more hysterical because no one gets the joke but us.
We have tons of laughs over English translations of menus, signs, advertisements, and “Americanization” of things like the “Big Texas,” “Big Chicago,” and “Big New York” selection of MacDonald’s burgers. Or the “well-grounded” dried coconut powder, because I will ONLY purchase cocos that does not need psychoanalysis. “Zohar Strength” cleansing liquid, which is hysterical for Max & me because Zohar is a famous mystical rabbi and a collection of mystical and spiritual commentary on Torah. It worked!! We bought the product just because….
The signage here is wondrous in all aspects
Unexpected art: wherever you go here, watch out for unexpected art. It really lifts my spirits on an especially difficult day, which is often – but it serves its purpose. From street performers to graffiti to other random pieces, it really feeds the soul.
And the soul needs feeding, because, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We live in a land where ‘early warning’ sirens are placed every kilometer throughout the land, where there are bunkers (mamad) in every neighborhood; where every home has a safe room; where unfortunately, there are people with arms everywhere. We feel safest when we see these ‘guards’ actually, but it can be a bit unsettling around the newcomers. We live in a land where F-16s, helicopters and other aircraft patrol the air on a daily basis. It’s like having a Blue Angels air show over your home every day. Thunderously loud, at times, but it gives me an opportunity to pray for their safety and ours.
This is a strange place where the days of the week are designated byliners, which are also numbers!!! It’s sometimes exasperating because hours of operation are different from one place to the next. Post offices in town all have different – and weird hours – seemingly random – as do clinics, government offices, and other establishment. We’ve learned to take pictures and keep them in our phone and to write notes for quick reference:
Did I mention the hours can change seemingly randomly? Or that the post office package pick up is different from the main branches? Or that one day the place will be there and the next it will change locations? AAAAAARRRRGGGHH! Also, getting mail can be quite the experience. The bills, ads, draft notices, etc. are all in Hebrew! Without vowels!! So the big questions: do I need a translator? Is this important? Do I struggle with it or save it for later only to forget about it for weeks on end? Perhaps I should just trash it…
The drivers here take more than a bit of getting used to. My husband, who normally has the patience of Job, absolutely transforms into a Jekyll/Hyde monster now when he’s behind the wheel. Driving here can be a totally exasperating experience!!! There are the nice Anglos, the fast and crazy Russian and European drivers, seemingly demonic Arab drivers, Asians, Africans – and absolutely random and aggressive Israelis who all seem to use different rules of the road. Using brights at night is standard – and excruciating. Most people use their horns waaaaay too much – for everything. There is no such thing as a patient driver. Passing a string of trucks and cars on a two lane highway is nerve-wracking to watch. Parking jobs are at best, hysterical…
I love the diversity of the people here. Truly a place where all nations are represented. And how the ancient mixes with the modern seamlessly:
I love the unexpected Judaism here: notes on a cafe table wishing a good month and good news;
a synagogue behind the deli at the supermarket in the event that you need to make emergency prayers
the fact that the buses wish you a happy holiday and have the “Shemah” prayer on the back… just in case you should forget where you are
the store rabbi in case you have pressing questions about Kosher laws
not only do you get a mini chocolate with your coffee at aroma, but the wrappers change seasonally. This on is for Passover – complete with pyramid design wishing a joyous holiday
And I’ve gotten used to seeing the juxtaposition of bedouin shepherds next to upscale urban high-rise developments ~
If that’s not strange or funny enough for you, how about this sculpture on the Israel/Syrian border in the Golan??? Because we ALL know that Hezbulla and ISIS are deathly afraid of dragons, right???
I absolutely love the healthy street food and cafe food here. And all you can eat Israeli salads – eggplant 93 ways; cabbage 28 ways; cucumbers and tomatoes – all of it comes with your meal at no extra charge – and they keep bringing out more – and pita and hummus – and – No wonder I’ve gained over 25 pounds! Oy va voy!!
You really haven’t lived til you’ve experienced a true Israeli breakfast (but watch out for wildlife roaming through)
Where else would you see a group of men peacefully gathered together at one of the country’s most expensive malls as their women shop – gathered to do morning prayers? I love this!!!
On another, more reflective note: seeing the brave soldiers, young men and women returning home or back to base at the bus stops, praying or having a swearing-in service at the Wall, dancing for joy at a festival. Many of my friends’ kids are now being drafted. We send each other pictures of our kids in uniform. I doubt if I am the only one who has made a chart of our kids so I can remember to pray for them daily. And the list keeps growing. Max’s friends. It is customary to send “gee-oos’ cards to the enlistee for an easy service. Who knew? Max just got his notice 5 minutes ago. November 27. I don’t know where he’ll be or what he’ll be doing yet: just the date.
There are those days, too, when all I can do is type in a word for translation. the other day I tried to translate the Hebrew word for “I serve” “I wait on” and this is what came out, like a Chinese fortune cookie. How funny!
At least one doesn’t have to go too long to see a beautiful wedding or a car for newlyweds wrapped in tulle and fresh flowers – so beautiful!!! It seems love is always in the air here. I leave you with a photo I snapped last spring on the beach in Caesaria.