Monday, August 31, 2015

Shopping is Fun!

It's also weird

I'm not sure what sort of "stationery set" a package of safety pins is, but it's clearly not one I'm familiar with using....

and odd

I never knew cholent was sold in a can.  Do you still have to heat in overnight in a crock pot??  (I love how the can is so dented, too)

And then there's the cleaning supplies.  Shopping takes me forever because my Hebrew reading is slow and my comprehension is even slower.  I rely on contextual cues, specifically the picture on the package.  So, in the cleaning aisle, I knew the bottle with the sparkly toilet on it was toilet cleaner.  The bottle with the shiny window on it was window cleaner.  And the bottle with the field of flowers on it???  In the hopes that it was multipurpose cleaner, I added it to the cart.  Since it permanently lightened an area of the dress I was wearing, I suppose I was correct (the floors look better, too!).

In other news, the gas was hooked up on our stove today and I made our first home-cooked (at least by me) food in two weeks.  (In case you're wondering, oatmeal was the very first thing.  Starting over in a new country really brings out how a new kitchen that has nothing in it really has NOTHING in it. So when the question comes whether we have cinnamon, raisins or maple syrup for the oatmeal, the answer is that we have none of it....I then went to the grocery store and tried to stock up on the basics, at least as much as my "Granny Cart" would allow).

We had homemade mac and cheese for dinner and there were rave reviews from the critics
"This is the best meal I've eaten since we've been in Israel, Mommy!"

It's so nice to be inching our way to normalcy!

How to Make a Sofa From a Refrigerator Box

That's what I googled yesterday, and, not finding much that was helpful, I will use that as my title in case others living with almost nothing except a refrigerator, a refrigerator box and a desire to sit somewhere other than the floor google the subject in the future.....

First off, I would like to thank Ilana for being reasonable and giving up her desire for a play house in deference to my desire for something sofa-like.  And Chana who helped Ilana shlep the box and contents inside.  And to both of them for not laughing at me when I told them my idea :)


First, we stuffed all the styrofoam pieces inside and tried to make them reasonably level

Measured for "arm rests" (I didn't think we could push the middle inside for the seating area without having a side area still attached to the box)

Measure twice, cut once ;)

Cut out of the arm rests (an Xacto knife would have been so spiffy, but making 3000 holes with the pair of scissors we brought worked too)

Caaarefully pushed in the middle section to make the seating area aaaand:

It works!!!  It's actually surprisingly comfortable.  I have been reminding the kids that this is not a *real* sofa and we do need it to last the few weeks until our lift comes, so they really should not lie with their feet up on the back rest part.....Or do any other weird sofa yoga that will cause our beautiful piece of furniture to stop being functional before our Macy's set gets here.

The arm rests didn't really work because one end of the box was open and had little to support the arm once it was cut out.  But the other end (closed end of box) works great as a library shelf!  (Here is some of the assortment of books that we felt we couldn't live without until our lift got here, or random things we found at our house after the lift left: "Baby Blues Treasury", "Relativity by Einstein", "Sense and Sensibility", "Geronimo Stilton", "Pygmalion", "Big Nate: I Smell a Pop Quiz", "Zits Treasury" and "All of a Kind Family Downtown", among assorted magazines and books I got the kids to read on the plane [ooh!  "Split Ends" with "new material")

Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Name is Not Norman

When I was buying our Rav Kav bus passes, I handed my teudat zehut to the clerk, who looked at my identity card a moment and then asked, "Your name is Norman?".

It says "shem shel av" (name of father) on that line, so it's not like it's confusing.  Except, of course, when it is.  "Umm, no, that's my father's name....."

First Shabbos in RBS

It is so sweet to be here.....We were invited a wonderful family for dinner and then another wonderful family for lunch.  Both had great kids, including girls who were either our kids' ages or thereabouts. On Friday night, Chana and Ilana stayed late to finish an exciting game of "Perpetual Commotion" after the rest of us came home and Ilana turned into a real Israeli kid Shabbos day when she stayed late to play with our hosts' daughter (who will be in her school class) and then walked herself home, including keep her head on when she got a little confused about which way the stairs to our street were, and found her way back to our hosts' house to get better directions (the older sister walked her back).  She and I then went next door, to our neighbors who made aliyah 3 weeks before us (they're the old-timers!); they have a daughter also in Ilana's class and the girls had a good time playing along with Adina's younger brothers.  Meanwhile, two girls (one from Penina's class and one from the neighborhood who will be at another school) came over to visit Penina and then took her back to their houses with them.

We got a beautiful reception at the local shul, where they announced the aliyah of us and another family and gave Shalom Shachne an aliyah to the Torah and sang "v'shavu banim ligvulam" ("Your children shall return to your borders") after his aliyah.  It was so, so sweet.

Baruch Hashem, we have had our refrigerator since Thursday.  It is SUCH a big help (we had a "fun" few days of buying milk in the morning and throwing it out at night).  Having the fridge made it much less of a challenge that our new stove arrived and then sat in its wrappings until this morning. There is some sort of shtick here that you void the warranty if anyone other than a certified technician unwraps the appliance.  So we waited several days (but several days less than it could have been--see Shalom Shachne's post "We Are New Immigrants") for the guy to come in, unwrap the stove, throw the wrapping stuff all over the floor, plug the stove in, and tell us that we had no gas account and he could hook up the gas but it wouldn't work until we got our account with the gas company.  Sheesh! Sine we can use the oven and just not the stovetop,  we are definitely in better shape than before :)

Friday, August 28, 2015

We Are New Immigrants Who Take the Bus :)

Ooh--so proud: we took the bus up to "Park Center" yesterday to go to the store that was recommended for buying school books.  And we didn't get lost even when the bus driver told us we were getting off at the wrong stop and the "mercaz" (center) was further down.  I had a good laugh because the mercaz is the shopping area just above us!  Thankfully, I recognized the "Park Center" area from when we were visiting the schools in February, or I would have taken us for a nice round-trip back to where we came from ;)

My "grand scheme" when I am confused or overwhelmed is to stop and listen for someone speaking with her kids in English and then ask her my question.   We chose to live in a very Anglo area so this usually doesn't take too long.  There were a bazillion types of notebooks and note paper at this store, but, luckily, a woman with a daughter who ended up being in Penina's grade was next to us in line, so her daughter took Penina to the notebook section with my instructions to PB to "buy one of whatever *she* bought".  And the woman turned out to be a dentist, so now we have a local dentist, too!

Today was the first day of school for Penina

I am so proud of her.  Of course, the whole day (well, such as it was.  They get out at 11:45 on Fridays....) was in Hebrew and she understood very little, but the girls in her class seem very nice and she had a good attitude about it.  The 4 or 5 new olim in her class will start having intensive Hebrew class hopefully next week or the week after.

I guess the second part of "we are new immigrants who take the bus" is being "new immigrants who get lost on the bus".  Coming home from Penina's school, I took the bus back (same one we took up the hill yesterday) and instead of taking the left turn to go down the main street our home is off of, it took a right turn past the mercaz and started heading out of town.  I decided that less talking and more walking was prudent, and instead of asking when/where/how/if it would get to the stop by our house, just got off and hoofed it back home.  Clearly, it was meant to be, though, because I ran into Shalom Shachne coming up the hill for his morning coffee and we went for bagels together :)

We are ready for our first Shabbos in Ramat Beit  Shemesh.  The house is clean (as clean as I can make it without Israeli-specific cleaning advice, specifically how on earth you deal with the never-ending amounts of dust.  You can wash the floor and, a few hours later, sit on it [remember, we have almost no furniture until our lift arrives] and emerge covered in dust.  The good part, though, is that pretty much everyone walks around with dust/dirt on their skirts/pants, so we fit right in.  I guess that's the Middle East in summer).

We now have a mostly-empty living room, which feels great.  The kids have been sleeping in the living room since we got here Tuesday and a fair bit of our luggage was still down here, but the air conditioning in Penina's room got fixed this morning, we got a good fan for Ilana's room, and all the luggage got shlepped upstairs.  I am still in-process of slowly cleaning the third floor, which will be Chana's rooms/the guest rooms.  Here is a photo of the rest of the living room.  The blow-up chair filled with feathers that Cousin Sela gave the kids is the closest thing we have to real living room furniture :)
reading Mishpacha magazine.  What a trip to get it the same week that it's published (Boston is always a week or more behind schedule)

One local family dropped off Shabbos candles and matches, grape juice and spices for havdalah for the end of Shabbos.  Another family kindly brought over flowers (*with* a vase, which I thought was so smart of them to have the foresight.  Harold and Shoshana: these are your brother-in-law's brother and his wife. SO sweet).

Good Shabbos!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

We Are New Immigrants

from SS: Yesterday, on the phone with the appliance service company who needs to come to hook up the gas on our new stove, I asked for an earlier appointment than the one they offered us next Tuesday. I mentioned that we are עולים חדשים (new immigrants), without any way to cook food for the kids (which is true). The woman very kindly found a way to move it up 2 days. So I was wondering how long we can say that we are עולים חדשים. I think it's a year, because that's when a lot of the benefits expire. 

from EZG: I saw a video about funny things Anglos say in Israel and one was a young woman saying "I'm an olah chadashah.  I've been here ten years....".  

Shalom Shachne's Guide to Buying a Folding Table

Post by SS:

How to buy a folding table in Israel:
1. Go to largest home goods store you can find.
2. Fail to find the table in the section you expect it to be in.
3. Ask sales person for help. Sales person says to wait a minute because they need to check above the top of the store.
4. Wait while sales person continues to work as if you are not there any more.
5. Walk around store trying to attract attention of the store owner.
6. Store owner asks which size table you need, large or small.
7. You say, large. He says he doesn't have it. You say whatever size he has you'll take.
8. He says he doesn't have any folding tables.
9. You say "why are you asking me what size table I want if you don't have any?"
10. He says they don't sell many at this time of year, but if I want to come back closer to Rosh HaShanah, they will have them.
11. He kindly offers to go up and check what he has anyway, but makes it sound so difficult that you have pity on him, and say not to do it.
12. You ask if there is another store in the area which sells folding tables.
13. He says there must be, but he doesn't know which one.
14. You find the other store with G-d's help, and they also have to ascend to some obscure moldy attic to get it.
15. But you do emerge with a table in the end.
The above took place in Hebrew, which you would have to hear in person to fully appreciate the humor of the situation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tuesday: First Day in RBS

We made it through the packing and shlepping and even one last hurrah of cheap pizza (amusing story: I called at 11:00 to get a GF pizza [plain] plus a regular pizza with black olives and mushrooms delivered from the yummy place near Fern and Jonathan.  This is also one of the only places to get GF pizza in Jerusalem.  I was told it would take 40 minutes.  At 11:55, I called and told them that we were leaving any minute.  The owner said, 'he will be there in a few seconds'.  Yup, about 3 seconds later, there was the delivery scooter.  Unfortunately, he had only one box with him: a GF pizza with mushrooms and black olives.  Doh.  Fortunately, we were staying across the street from a pizza store which sells whole pies for 20 NIS--$5 [and a badatz hechsher to boot!].  Crisis averted ;))

The people in our new neighborhood are very nice.  We borrowed a folding table, chairs and air mattresses from a lovely woman who delivered it all to us and also brought a bottle of seltzer and tray of cinnamon buns.....We've been invited out for both Shabbos meals this week and for lunch next week.....Penina's e-penpal came over with two other girls who will also be in the class and brought a plate of candy and a sign welcoming her......and Ilana and I are being picked up tomorrow by the local gluten-free maven and her daughter who has celiac disease (one grade younger than Ilana, but same school).  They are going to show us all where all the GF goodies are hiding in the local supermarkets.
Unfortunately, we heard some less-than-delightful news about our lift today.  We had been hoping it would arrive next week, but the shipping company says that it left Boston after sitting in port 5 days there and is now almost to Italy where it will also likely get stuck for a number of days and will probably not arrive until the day before Rosh Hashanah.  We have been told by numerous people that the period around RH is (l'havdil) like the week between Xmas and New Year's in the US--nothing but nothing happens.  We were really hoping, of course, to avoid our lift arriving around RH and also hoping that our stuff would be here sooner (the best case scenario was that the lift would arrive next week).  Please send good vibes for a really quick stopover in Italy and that our lift arrives soon!!!

Last Day in Jerusalem

View from the top of the Tower of David

 Chana and I had a lovely touristy day celebrating our one week "aliya-versary".  We toured the Tower of David Museum and then arrived at the Burnt House just in time for their English language presentation (wouldn't really have been a big deal if they were doing it in another language, just would have meant using headphones).  I remember going to the Burnt House when I came to Israel with USY when I was Chana's age, and I haven't been there since, but remembered that I found it interesting enough to revisit.  It didn't disappoint, and we had an interesting and educational day.

inside the Tower of David
Ran into Tova R. again in the Old City!  

That night, went back with all the girls for one last time davening at the Kotel.  sigh.  It was beautiful.....

Tomorrow we pack up and head to our new home. The thought of packing (yet again) is not that fun, and of shlepping all our luggage through our pedestrian alley and out to the street is even less fun, but I am so glad that the next time we unpack it's for at least a year :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday in Jerusalem

In the morning, Chana and I had the privilege of attending the bris of "Baby Boy B".  Baby Boy's aunt, Ariella, is Chana's very close friend who came early for her seminary year to help out her brother and sister-in-law with their (highly adorable) toddler and new baby.  The B's (I guess that should be "the Grandparent B's") are our friends who bought our former house and are now settling in amidst their boxes.    So it was a lovely-but-slightly-odd thing that we were there for the bris and Grandparent B's were not (but, no fear, Grandma B is coming next week).  It was very sweet to be there and I was quite impressed that that B's son (Baby Boy's father) is fluent in Yiddish *and* Hebrew.

Met some lovely people including two middle-aged women and their mother, who must have been in her 90s.  The mother had just made aliyah last week, but not on the big flight we were on ("NBN told us to take her separately so it would be quicker to get her out of the airport without the big party". Seeing how frail this woman looked, I was impressed she was able to make the trip at all).

We also had  a nice time talking with a young woman who does playgroup with "highly adorable toddler".  I assumed she had her toddler and one on the way.  Then her baby started crying and I assumed she had just the two (she looked SO young).  Then she got up to leave announcing she had to pick up her other kids from school!  I was stunned, but Chana reminded me that she had said she had been in Israel for 7 years, so that was probably how long she had been married for, and she probably had 4, if not one more!

Amusing cultural factoid: the celebratory meal after a bris here is fleishig, not the bagels and lox we're used to in the US.  I noted that I had never eat chicken at 11:30 in the morning before (and, actually, although I had an egg roll with meat and thus ruined any possibility of having pizza until my 6 hour waiting time was up, I did not indulge in the chicken or shnitzel.  I had skipped breakfast knowing we would eat at the bris, but definitely not planning on a chicken leg for breakfast!).

While we were out, PB and Ilana remembered my old story of letting their older sisters watch "as much TV as they wanted as long as it wasn't in English" when we were in Israel way back when.  Happily, the TV hadn't been on yet, so there is a statistically Happy Medium somewhere between 4.5 days of no TV and .5 days of back-to-back episodes of Hebrew "Arthur" (which I remember watching and did learn some new vocab from).

SS spent several hours trying to deal with our cell phones, which should have been working in the morning but weren't.  He shared his wonderful philosophy with me: we should assume that it takes at least twice to deal with anything, and if it happens with only one visit to the store, it's amazing, but not to be counted on.  He should know because he went to the cell phone store three times (after my 1.25 hours there Friday.  We have now spent a solid 1/2 day dealing with getting cell service.  But, wahoo, since it's on now, I won't complain any more.  Although I haven't included how long we will be on the phone with our carrier to get the American numbers that are included in our plan.  I gave up after 10 minutes yesterday.  I will definitely need to be tougher....).

He also went and waited in a very long time at our HMO to try to get our insurance cards, before finding out that I needed to be with him for that.  Later in the day, we spent another hour over there, together before emerging with our cards.

Definitely one of the nice things about going on the "party flight" is that we know (I'll use that term loosely) 232 other people here whom we didn't know before.  Early in the day at the shuk, Penina and another woman were staring at each other until the woman asked, "were you on the charter flight?" and Penina told her she was just going to ask her the same thing.  While we were at the HMO, we ran into an older couple who had been on the flight (coming to retire to Israel and spend time with their grandchildren.  How hard, though, because they have four kids, two in the US and two in Israel.  Some kind of modern "Sophie's Choice" re. who you live near....).  It was nice to reconnect and we were all pleased to find out that we weren't the only ones who had spent hours at Maccabi that day (and when the lady waiting on line next to us heard our conversation, she warmly welcomed us to the country and told us how much she admired us for making aliyah.  I love that stuff!).

We shlepped back to one of the appliance stores we had visited with Gil on Thursday and ordered a refrigerator and stove.  They will arrive Wednesday, so we are staying in our J'lem rental another night and will officially move in on Tuesday.  Can't wait until our lift gets here.....It's been very nice to have a week of sleeping on a real bed rather than an air mattress on the floor.

Later, the kids and I went to the Old City to the Tower of David Sound and Light Show.
So beautiful to see the flags flying over Migdal David (wish I was a better photographer)

Who in the past has walked by these walls??
All of us thought it was amazing and this is official notice for anyone coming to visit us that it's on the "must do" list (trust me, you'll love it!).  Then back to our favorite restaurant, Agas v'Tapuach .  Man, that guy is some cook!!!!  (As an amusing sidenote, the chef's name is Ottolenghi, and when I saw that online before our first visit, I was thinking, "Wow, the most famous chef in Jerusalem and we're going to eat his food our first day in the country!  Hmm, but I thought that chef's restaurant wasn't kosher?  Hmm....".  As soon as we walked in and met the jovial, middle-aged Italian chef I knew that there was more than one chef named Ottolenghi in Jerusalem.  Here is the other Ottolenghi, in case you're interested.)
Taking the light rail home

Happy (Wedding) Anniversary

Today is our 23rd anniversary according to the Jewish calendar.  This week's parsha, Shoftim, is our aufruf parsha, so it always feels very appropriate (and I remember how much my father-in-law Irwin a''h loved the line "tzedek tzedek tirdof"--righteousness righteousness you shall pursue" [and those of you who had the privilege to know him are probably nodding your head now, saying, "yes, that was Irwin"]).

The kids went over the shuk and returned with an enormous amount of fancy chocolate (following the "give what you'd like to get" model, I assume), a beautiful card (no easy feat here) and a lovely wooden holder for bircat hamazon books.  We don't usually make a big deal about our anniversary, but this one certainly counts as worthy of note.

I would like to wish a Happy Anniversary to my dear husband, the most patient person I know, who waited 30 years to have his dream of making aliyah come true.  He was a very young man when he first had his dream of living in Israel.  Now, four kids, gray hair and all, he is finally here.  Happy Anniversary, Shalom Shachne.  May we be privileged to share many more happy, healthy, laugh-laden years together and continue making our dreams come true.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Our First Shabbos

What a sweet first Shabbos we had ;).  Yesterday, I arranged for us to have Shabbos dinner at one of the local hotels.  It was just a few blocks away, had a lovely crowd of people there and the food was pretty good.

This morning, Bircas HaTorah set us up to have lunch with one of their Rabbis.  On the way there, ran into Tova R., a teacher at one of the schools I worked at.  So great to see her and I love there we keep bumping into these "surprise people" here.  SS has bumped into several at shul, but Tova is the first friend of mine that I ran into.

We had a really great time having lunch with the Bloom family.  Definitely worth the long walk in the hot sun (from our apt. to the Old City is about 1.5 miles.  Coming home in the mid-day sun, the walk is uphill the entire way and took us forever....).

We came home and collapsed in the blissful air conditioning for a while until....a knock on the door!  Who even knows we're here?!  Yahoo--it was Gidon and Bracha, who are our friends Matthew and Leah's brother and sister-in-law.  It was such a hoot, since our last Shabbos meal in Boston was at Matthew and Leah's house, and Ilana was a regular Shabbos afternoon houseguest over there.  I remarked that it was great to go from seeing Annabelle, Moshe, Sophia and Clara on Shabbos to seeing the first cousin of Annabelle, Moshe, Sophia and Clara :)

By the time we walked them home in the late afternoon, it had cooled down and become a lovely day.  SS went off to shul and I suggested to the kids that we go out on the little porch and read, as it was now so pleasant out.  Three of us came outside and the third one out shut the door.  Good thing that happened before the fourth person was out b/c I thought to say, "check that that door doesn't lock when it shuts.  We don't have a key out here with us".  UH OH....Locked out (as a side note, I wonder if our new place will be as crazy as this apt about door locks.  Makes me crazy that we need a key to EXIT the main door.  So unsafe in case of fire, Gd forbid, and, frankly, a total pain in the tuchus to always need to find the key to lock the door when we come in).

Anyway, the fourth person, who happened to be Ilana, was still inside.  The problem was that the door is always VERY hard to open, and, several times, I haven't been able to open it (this, in fact, was the first time any of us had stepped foot out there).  Gidon and SS had to work together earlier to get it to open.  Ilana tried valiantly to open it, but no luck.....I was expecting, after all her huffing and puffing and throwing her body into the door that there would be a cartoon-like outline of her on the door, but, nah.

Thankfully, our landlord, who lives in another part of Jerusalem, had family visiting in the second apartment they rent out downstairs from ours and we had seen him earlier in the day.  "Listen," Penina said, "I hear his voice".  "Look!!!!" Chana said--"he's down there in the street" (the street, by the way, is the small alley this rental is on.  A number of people who live on this alley have tiny apartments and very big families, and they use the pedestrian-only alley as an extension of their living room [there is a family with something like 6 kids a few houses down and I see that mom and those kids outside the entire day.  Having walked by and glanced into the apartment, I can see why....]).  Thankfully, I was able to get his attention, Ilana let him into the apartment (luckily that door opened!) and he saved us from staying out there until SS came home from shul after Shabbos ended, or someone's bladder got near to bursting and she decided to climb down the small-and-not-that-high-yet-fulll-of-garbage-and-spare-building-materials roof and go in the front door :)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday in Jerusalem

Our family should definitely be over jet lag--Penina slept until 10:30 and Ilana and Chana until 11:40!  Today I was able to get our "Rav Kav" transit cards (like a bilingual Charlie card) and, finally, get us cell service (although it doesn't start until Sunday).  Penina is thrilled that she will finally have a phone (email and text, no internet, per her school's policy) and Ilana dealing gracefully with not having one (per *her* school's policy).

We spent a long time wandering about the Machane Yehuda marketplace that we're right around the corner from.  Here are some of the sights from today:
Chana and I tried Etrog/Gat juice and 'The Rambam's Drink", which was a mix of "almonds, sour almonds and dates".  Below, you can see Chana's reaction :)

Stopping for a drink at the Re-Bar in the shuk.  It's a juice bar chain and they have one where we're moving to.  I signed up for their frequent buyer card and they asked for my TZ number!  (Those of you reading who are privacy advocates would not be happy.  I was just bummed out that I had forgotten it at home....again....and didn't memorize my number yet)

What--your deli doesn't have a sign saying "We can change the world forever!  Loving acts of goodness and kindness will bring Moshiach now"?!
I love the graffiti here.  I might start another blog just for the "holy graffiti".  I especially like the juxtaposition of the boxes out for recycling and the picture of the man praying

Not a great picture, but imagine the entire stall filled with fresh, soft baked goods and breads.  It's definitely challenging for my gluten-free child.....btw, the sign above says "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy" 
Young man carrying large tray of challah on his head.  We had seen him earlier carrying another tray like this through the shuk's crowded aisles and loudly announcing his presence with a bellowed "'ALLO!!!" (which, according to my Hebrew learning tapes, is how they say "hello" here)
Shabbat Shalom!  Can't believe we're going to have our first Shabbos as citizens!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Woohoo! Over jet lag!!!

All it took was being out of the house with Cousin Gil for something like 14 hours without napping (well, I grabbed a brief nap as we drove between stops, but micro-napping is one of my super-powers [as Rhona would say] and no one else napped).  Once we finally got home and the kids got in bed, they were so beyond tired that they still couldn't fall asleep.  Mwahahaha.  While not part of my original "evil plan" to get them over jet lag, I did not start shelling out the melatonin.  I don't think anyone fell asleep before 11 and it's now 9:30 and everyone is still sleeping.  As an early riser, I can't think of when I last slept until 8:30!  Ahhhh.  So nice to feel well-rested.

Day #2: Cousin Gil comes to town

And, man, those Israelis don't mess around!  SS lived on cousin Gil's kibbutz oh, 30-something years ago, and he and Gil are very close.  Gil is a great guy and I really adore his wife, Nitzan (who needed to work today, but, hey, we'll see her some other time, right?!).

SS and Gil had a list of things for us to accomplish today, including going to see our new place, measuring the space for appliances and buying them.  I threw in going to the NBN office to get our teudat zehut (someone, help me out here with the plural.  Abby?!  Anyone?  I'm offending my own grammatical sense.....).

Gil was able to load onto his car all the things we didn't need here in Jerusalem but needed to shlep with us to Israel for use until our lift comes (towels, shower curtains, sheets, pillows, a few air mattresses, etc).We saw our new place and it's got a lot of potential and I think it will be great when it has furniture in it.  Interesting how some things really looked different in the video/still photos we saw in the U.S. compared to how they looked in real life.  I was delighted to find that the kitchen was larger than I expected, although this was definitely off-set by the living/dining room being smaller than I anticipated :)

I got to meet two of the neighbors, one across the street and one next door.  The next door neighbors are also new olim, mutual friends of our friends Harold and Shoshana, and also have a 4th grader going to the same school as our 4th grader.  So the next door family was a very good one to meet!  We went to the shopping area that's nearby and it looks like it has a fair amount of shopping there.  Definitely more than I expected for a neighborhood shopping area.

Next up was the NBN "teudat zehut" (Israeli Identity Card) fair.  What a great job NBN did.  They had already put the photos taken on Tuesday into a slide show with music ("Come Back", which is the NBN theme song: "I can hear my homeland calling....Come back, come back to me now").  They had a bouncy slide, ice cream, crepes, waffles and (Gd help us learn self-control) slushie coffee, a photographer taking pictures for "Aliyah 2015" magnets (sooo cute!  Now I just need a fridge to put mine on) and many, many government representatives to meet with after getting the TZ.  We were able to open a customs document to help speed the process when our lift gets here, meet with a rep from the ministry of absorption who helped me work through exactly what steps I need to take next to get all our paperwork in order, and, perhaps most important, I got a keychain that perfectly simulates the 5 shekel piece needed at any grocery store to get the shopping cart out of its queue ;).  SS and I both noted how nice it was to see people from our flight ("Hello my best friend who I just met that day and will likely never see again" kind of thing).  Gil was surprised and impressed that we didn't have to go wait in an endless government line to get our TZ.

Then off for appliance shopping.  Ilana and I lasted for an hour at the first store before heading home in a taxi.  PB managed to last for all four stores.  Unfortunately, no appliances were ordered bc everyone was too overwhelmed and exhausted after all that.....

Lastly, out for a lovely dinner at Cafe Rimon on Ben Yehuda St, which was a huge party site tonight. Ben Yehuda is always a party street with lots of street musicians, stores open very late and many restaurants and cafes, but Thursday is very, very busy (Friday in Israel is like Sunday in the US, with most people working only a half day) and Saturday night it will be ever more of a mesiba.  

I'll sum up our day as "fun but exhausting".  Still no phone service.  This is definitely reminding me of Feb when we just couldn't find a phone place that was open/could do what we want/etc.  I'm hoping tomorrow will be the "day of many working phones"!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Our First Full Day

EZG here:

Well, our first full day was somewhat stymied by jet lag on the part of the females in the family.  SS (since he has legally changed his name to his Hebrew one--Shalom Shachne [although the initials are the same for his English name]) got up early, went to daven and then learned for the morning at his former yeshiva, Bircas HaTorah, then came home to work for his US job.  This will be his regular schedule (although, until the high speed rail that's in the works from the suburb we will live in to Jerusalem gets built, he will likely go to a local place to learn, rather than going into the Old City to Bircas HaTorah).  We saw him briefly as he was leaving Bircas and his face was absolutely glowing and there was such a spring in his step ;)

The girls and I had the craziest morning where one or two of us would be ready to leave the apartment but the others would be asleep.  And by the time they woke up, the first round would be asleep.  We made two brief journeys in groups of two (one to forage for breakfast items and one to go shopping for socks, as they are evidently packed in the bags that are locked in the apartment downstairs.....Later, we brought up two pieces of luggage and will hope for the best for tomorrow.  And, if not, we bought a multi-pack of socks :))

We finally left home around 1:00 and walked to the Old City, stopping for iced coffee (they have slushie machines of iced coffee here.  It's genius, I tell you!) and to try to get cell phone service, which didn't happen b/c I forgot that here, like in Europe, having your passport on you is the key to making official things happen.  Nefesh B'Nefesh did give us a short-term phone card at the airport, but, now that we're all spoiled by having cell phones, having only *one* feels very difficult.

We spent a lovely, long and heartfelt time davening at the Kotel (praying at the Western Wall).  There are special prayers to say when at the Kotel and it was incredible to actually get to say them, rather than just skip by those pages.

When going down the stairs to the Kotel, there are always people set up asking for tzedakah money for charity.    Each person I gave to, I told that we made Aliyah yesterday.  After donating, one is showered with blessings, and I figured I should get as much personalized bang for my (literal) buck (and a big thank you to those of you who gave us shaliach mitzva money to donate).  These people went on and on giving us brachas --it was totally great even though I didn't understand all of it since they all spoke Hebrew (nothing much to it, in my opinion--they are smiling and clearly saying all sorts of nice things, so I just smiled, nodded and said 'Amen' a lot :)).

When we were out, several people noticed our "official NBN baseball hats" and wished us Mazal Tov and that we should have a "klita tova" ("good absorption", which makes SS chuckle, like they're talking about kitchen sponges or something).

It's the end of a multi-week heat wave here, and we were totally wiped out upon returning home, even though we took the very groovy light rail home

We ran into our Boston neighbor, Nossen, at a bus stop.  One of the things I really like about Israel--it really is possible to just randomly bump into people you know.

After a rest, out to visit with our old homeschooling pals, Fern and Jonathan.  SO great to see them (and eat their delicious curry!).  Dragged our tired selves home after doing a great job of NOT falling asleep on their sofas :).

Hoping for a good night's rest and that tomorrow we will be mostly over the jet lag.....

By the way, here are a few photos from the NBN Facebook page of me meeting Temima's sisters, Tova and Mazal.  I think it's pretty clear how thankful I was for their incredible act of kindness in coming to meet us....

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Favorite Photos From Aliyah Day

We got to take the sign home, so that will go up, along with the sign from Temima's family, in our new home :)

Hello From Israel!!!!

WOWWOWOW.  Can't believe we're really here.....I've got to hand it to Nefesh B'Nefesh--they put such an incredible amount of work into making this process as smooth as possible.  While I don't think shlepping one's family overseas can ever be "easy", I so greatly appreciate the lengths NBN went to in trying to make it as easy as possible.

Ilana very happy after seeing "the balloon guy" in NY

getting on the plane!!!!!
We are at our little rental in Jerusalem.  We get to be tourists here for almost a week before going to our new, suburban home.  Not sure how the apartment will work out.  It's so small that our luggage won't fit in (the owners have another rental that is vacant, so the majority of our things are downstairs, in that apartment), and, b/c it on a little side alley, getting our luggage here was a nightmare of hand-shuttling it from the street....We'll see ;)

Anyway, back to leaving NY:

Jen and Shmulie greatly delayed going to work to take us to the airport (did I mention what great cousins I have?!) and Jen and Coby stayed for the whole farewell ceremony.
dynamic duo Lego lovin' cousins

I need to back up here and mention a very special person--Jen's "like a sister", Temima.  She has been beyond welcoming and helpful.  Temima lives in NY now and the rest of her family lives in Israel, having made Aliyah when Temima was 8.  Not only did we have Shabbos lunch together.....not only did she invite us to a very small family gathering for her super adorable son's first birthday on Sunday.....but her family in Israel came to meet us at the airport, which included ARRIVING at 7 a.m. with small children (and that's after driving several hours from the north).

I am, was, and will, for the rest of my life, continue to be touched to the very core of my being at this display of kindness for absolute strangers.....Having no family at all here (I sometimes feel like the only Jew who can say that, although I know that's not true) made it even more special to be met by people here.
Temima's family on the back right side with the handmade sign

Temima's family patiently waited and waited.....and then waited some more because we somehow managed to be the last people off the last bus from the plane!  In back of us were the NBN staffers and soldiers dancing everyone into the building!!!!

Of course, the good part about this is that we walked into the building as they were just about to start the ceremony welcoming all the new olim :).  (The bad part is that, while there were tasty snacks out, the frozen coffee drink machine was already out of goods.  May it be the hardest part of our day, right?!)
Ilana very happy after seeing "the balloon guy" in Israel :)

After a good, long nap, we had a wonderful dinner at Agas V'tapuach (Pear and Apple), the oldest Italian restaurant in Jerusalem.  The owner came out and talked with us and gave us wine when he found out we had arrived this morning.  Another customer wished us mazal tov and, in broken English when he saw my "deer in headlights" look when he started speaking Hebrew, told me how happy it made him that we had made Aliyah and it was a very beautiful thing we had done :)  

I can't believe I am holding a "Teudat Oleh" (Certificate of Immigration) in my hand.  

And so happy that our blog name is finally accurate!!!!!!

So long from NY

We had such a lovely weekend in NY.....Great, as always, being with my wonderful cousins,

a sweet visit with Aunt Sunny and Uncle Sydney (I am thrilled with how great that picture came out!)

the usual staying-up-again-until-midnight-to-repack lunacy (I will spare you the photo of my lying on top of a suitcase trying to shove everything in

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hello From NY

Because yesterday was "Bye From Boston".  It was final move-out time and, wow, what a time it was....We had stayed up crazy late Wednesday night getting things ready.  And woke up crazy early Thursday to keep at it.  Thankfully Deb and Frank, my sister and brother-in-law, came over to help.   They were amazing at helping us fill every square inch of luggage space with all the various "shnibby bits" of things we kept finding all over the house that we wanted/needed to take with us.

A truly heart-stopping moment occurred when Deb stared at our roomful of luggage, which included a stunning number of suitcases, duffel bags, carry-on bags and "personal items" and said, "I think you have one suitcase too many".  "NAW!  I counted!"  Oh my goodness--she was right.  I truly don't know if/when we would have caught that.  It took us quite a while to repack things into different suitcases to get rid of that last bag (which included me running out to get another of our new favorite suitcase, the Tote a Ton and Frank donating his carry-on bag to the cause!).  The thought of doing this at the El Al counter before our flight may very well be my new mental image the next time I have a nightmare!

Noreen came over to lend a hand as well.  Every Friday, I would tell Noreen, "I couldn't have done it without you" and Shabbos every week truly would not have happened (at least not in a clean, neat house!) without Noreen.  She came through in the last-minute pinch yesterday as well and I am so very thankful.

We drove in two cars: the younger girls (17, 12 and 9) and I in a one-way rental car that was so great--DVD system and outlets everywhere and a nice ride, too (even if I did get about 9 miles/gallon with all that luggage in the back).  The girls and I stopped off to see Frank's dad, Armando, at the nursing home he recently went into, drove into Brookline for pizza to go, and headed off.  Ironically, I had hoped to be in NY before it got dark and we ended up leaving Brookline as night was falling.  We showed up at Jen and Shmuley's at 1.  The kids were great and super supportive throughout the drive (including when I pulled over in CT for a 20 minute nap) and they watched "I Love Lucy" DVDs (which I enjoyed listening to) and stayed awake with me the whole way (which I felt guilty about, but having them awake really was helpful).

When we walked, in, my amazing cousin Jen had decorated her whole dining room

So, we're here, we're more rested, everyone LOVED "sleeping in real beds and eating real food at a real table" (direct quotes from my kids) and getting ready for the most restful Shabbos!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Countdown Begins!

Nefesh B'Nefesh Link to Live Webcast

Nefesh B'Nefesh has a countdown on their site until our charter flight lands!  So exciting--the entire plane is made up of people who are making aliyah!