Can it really be two full years since we left our family, friends and home in California and immigrated to Israel? Sometimes it seems it was only a few months ago, yet there are times when I feel I’ve been here forever. It’s been quite the journey: learning conversational Hebrew to the point where (on good days) I can hold my own in a conversation “on the street;” visiting new places, different cities, each with their own flavor, the Negev desert, the rolling hills of the Galilee, the Golan Heights; discovering wondrous Ancient biblical, Roman,Byzantine and Crusader ruins – some by sheer accident during a hike; setting up my own business; and of course, making lots of new friends, both Anglos and native Israelis.
So, I’m back to regular blogging after taking a much-needed hiatus. This past summer we were so blessed to be invited to go with local friends to their native countries of Czech Republic and Italy. Our son, Max, was a counselor at a summer camp in the Wisconsin, then visited his sisters in Los Angeles for two weeks, so John and I were fancy free. Travel to Europe from Israel is so much cheaper than flying from the States, and John and I had always wanted to travel. Prague was one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been! Everything about our stay was magical. Half the Old City was built in the Medieval period, the other half dates from the 17th & 18th centuries. From the well preserved Jewish quarter to the shops and marketplaces, we were smitten. Each night we attended a local Classical concert in a grand salon or church. My favorite was the salon where Amadeus was filmed where we heard chamber music and opera selections. Italy, too, was incredible. We stayed with a family in the Italian Alps, then another in Padua. After that we toured Venice, Florence, Assisi, Siena, Cortona, Tuscany, Pisa, Cinque Terra, Perugia, San Grimignano, and Milan. All in one week! The art!!!!!! The history! The fashion! The food!!!! We’ve vowed to return in the not-so-distant future.
Max returned the day after we came back to Israel. He had interviews for draft with the Israeli Defense Forces, and a possible draft date of early November, so we left him here, as it was our turn to go back to the U.S. We spent almost four weeks in Los Angeles visiting our lovely daughters. We missed them so much! Our number two, Emma, is a professional opera singer, so we got to see her in her debut with Los Angeles Opera in MacBeth. The others seem to be thriving with their jobs and friends and it was glorious to spend time with them. Also, we had a chance to reconnect with many of our good friends. I just wish time allowed us to visit everyone. It always seemed the days just weren’t long enough. And I got to do a bit of much needed shopping for items I just can’t get here, but with a 50 pound luggage allowance, I had to be super selective.
Los Angeles was my home for 32 years. We had put down deep roots in that place. Going back “home” was quite an eye-opener. There were so many things I absolutely missed that you just can’t find anywhere else in the world. We had an easy life there and in many ways, a fairly well-to-do life. But, while there, I had a major epiphany. Israel is my home. Israel is where we really feel connected. Both to the Land and to the People. It is something I cannot begin to explain, but it is decidedly more substantial. Something that goes beyond reason. Something spiritual.
From LA, we flew to Florida to see John’s 90 year old father, his brothers and sisters and their families, many of whom we hadn’t seen in over a decade. And we met my sister halfway in Charleston, South Carolina. We hadn’t seen Amy, her husband, and their now-teenage daughter in what seemed like forever. But it was a great reunion, and we were easily able to pick up where we left off, years ago. Our trip ended with a 17 hour layover in Amsterdam, which gave us plenty of time to explore that old European city. Still, it was wonderful to be back “home” in Israel.
Max’s draft date was pushed back several times until his final date in February. So we were able to have lots of quality time with him, and were able to take several “field trips” together. Those will be saved for later posts. We entertained a few friends from the States before Max went into the army, including a few of his buddies from the U.S. and camp. A bit of good news is that the lease on the home we are renting in Karmi’el has been extended five more years with no price increase. Now that’s another thing to “hallelujah!” about. Our landlady has been more than terrific, and we are extremely blessed to be more friends than landlord and tenant. So we have settled into life here easily and comfortably, and are so fortunate to merit to be here in the Holy Land.
The journey continues. Now that we’re two years here, I don’t think we can call ourselves Olim Chadashim, new immigrants, any more. Just today I helped a fresh new arrival navigate the kupaht kholeem, local medical clinic. I remember being there that second day, trying to navigate a system where the writing was entirely in Hebrew, and most people spoke only Hebrew, Russian, or Arabic. It was almost completely overwhelming. But just as someone helped us, I was able to explain the procedures to this woman, and told her that although everything seems nearly impossible now, just wait two years. With much patience, lots of perspicacity, and a sense of humor, things will be much easier in no time. So I guess, things are coming together for us now.
I can’t wait to share with you new and exciting blogs about life, people, culture, places, politics and of course – the food here. There will be lots more breathtaking pictures. And expect more than a few blogs of what life is like now that I’m a soldier’s mom. It is a radically different experience than any other aspect of parenting thus far. And as is typical with life anywhere, there will be stories of great pride, excitement, and adventure – and times of difficulty and extreme sadness. Come along with me! And, please, for all my readers abroad: please, please keep in touch! Let me hear from you. Together we will live Israel Dreams…