Today, Ilana started "Kitah Daled" (4th grade). She and I walked to her school and, yahoo, it only took about 15 minutes and was a pretty easy walk after we got up the 7 (!) flights of stairs between our house and the main street two levels above us (we're going to get in such great shape here!).
The school did such a nice job preparing for the beginning of the year. The other day, we went to a meeting with all the other new olim in the school. It was really nice to meet the other parents and kids (especially the two from the Greater Boston area). Today, they had students waiting at the front gate with "elementary school bling" (like rubber bracelets exhorting the kids to cross the street safely), the loudspeaker was blaring the Yeshiva Boys Choir "V'eahavta" ("love your friend as yourself"), there was a ballon arch, the school was extremely clean, and they had cute decorations in the hallways. Oh yeah, and the bell that rings when it's time to go in is an instrumental version of "Hamalach Hagoel".
They also have CROSSING GUARDS at this school--girls who appear to be in 5th or 6th grades who get vests and long sticks with stop signs on the ends. They even stuck them into the street and stopped traffic for *me* to cross (I hope they don't let the power go to their heads....). I was already feeling that we had chosen the right school but seeing the crossing guards totally pushed it over the edge for me ;). Here it is absolutely not unusual at all to see a 5 year-old walking a 3 year-old sibling around and crossing busy streets. I will give Israeli drivers a nod that, though they drive like total lunatics, they will generally come to a screeching halt if a young child is trying to cross the street.
It was Chana's first day at Seminary:
She is holding the "b'ahava" ("with love") package that Penina and Ilana made for her. I dropped her off at the seminary (the school and the other girls seems very nice) and helped her get unpacked before attempting to come home in our rental car, missing the exit for the highway, and following my crazy GPS that, instead of just having me turn around, sent me "the back way" (I wish I could put ominous music to the phrase "the back way"), which involved driving on a winding, two lane road on the side of a huge cliff. The scenery was absolutely breath-taking (the nanosecond views of it that I took, that is) and it really wasn't dangerous because there was a guard rail, but I will still not too happy. The route was so winding that I actually got carsick, which I thought was impossible to have happen to the one driving!
Today was the day for us adults to register for *our* school--ulpan--intensive Hebrew instruction. We had received an email stating that we should "come at 9. No need to come early. There will not be instruction that day". We arrived at 9:05 and discovered a line out the door. 40 minutes later they told us to get out of the line and come inside to the auditorium for a presentation about ulpan (which took a while to get basic info across because they translated everything from Hebrew into English and French) and then they divided us up into groups by our personal guess of our level (I'm in second level and SS is in 4, which is the highest) and brought us upstairs for instruction ;). Thankfully, it was just basic testing and didn't take too long (I had a huge to-do list since we had a rental car). Tomorrow, we start classes from 8:30-12:45 Sunday-Thursday for the next five months. Can't wait to start speaking better.