Aliyah Blog: Entry #1. Days 1-4

Posted at Sep 11, 2008 3:52 pm

So we are starting to settle in, enjoying the benefits of living in the holy land learning about some of the challenges. A small list of some of the things I have learned:
1) Don’t try to find your way around town by car in the dark in a city which you have only known for two days. You may accidentally end up in Jerusalem.
2) If you don’t know a word in Hebrew, saying it in English in an Israeli accent doesn’t quite cut it. It may also be insulting.
3) If you don’t understand what someone is saying, shaking your head and saying "Lo, Todah" (no thank you) also doesn’t cut it. Especially if the person was asking for directions into town.
3) Banks in Israel reinforce the age-old negative Jewish stereotype. They slowly take your money, they don’t give anything back, and if you leave your money in their institution long enough, it eventually disappears.
4) Everything is possible and negotiable. It’s all about who you know. Or who your cousin knows.
5) Just because a government office is supposed to be open, doesn’t mean it actually will be. You may show up and no one is there. When you do get in touch with someone, they are surprised that you had expected them to be there, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week.
6) Israelis love new olim. (new immigrants) You just have to say the phrase "oleh chadash" and they light up like a grandmother in front of an infant. Even if you really mess up, they’ll just cluck and shake their heads.
7) Parking in an actual space is for tourists. The sidewalks are always available. (Unless you are in the Old City)

 I am happy to say, despite some minor glitches, things have gone very well. Our daughters loved their first day of ulpan (Hebrew immersion class), and my eldest has already found a "best friend," who, ironically, had lived in Atlanta before us and was best buddies with one of my eldest’s Atlanta friends. The Jewish world is really tiny. Honestly, the only thing that had worried me about our move was our daughters’ adjustment, and so far, my fears have not been justified. Tomorrow they will attend their regular schools (ulpan Sundays-Thursdays for five months and regular school on Fridays.) We’ll see what they think of that. Ulpan is cushy, though. Everyone there knows English and no one expects you to know Hebrew. Yet.
I was going to describe our flight and arrival, but the long video is on the Nefesh B Nefesh website. http://www.nbn.org.il/
The flight was smelly and noisy; there were approximately 50 diapered babies on the plane.  And we sat near the back. Next to the changing area. enough said.
The greeting at the airport made up for it, though. There were about 600 guests, including the prime minister, and singing, dancing….

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