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Monday, March 25, 2013

Oys and Joys

Sorry for the long hiatus.  So much has been going on--we found out recently that my father has pancreatic cancer and that has been quite the oy.  Rather took the blog out of my blogging spirit.  My dad really is one in a million so it is hard news to get.  At the same time he and my mom raised us as part of a long tradition that celebrates life and so. . .

I don't even know where to begin.  Since I last blogged, I have received my license to practice medicine in Israel.  Yaaay.  There were so many calls back and forth to cross this "t" and dot that "i" that I had begun to think I would never get a license.  Then one day, I was standing at the bus stop and got a call from my notary/translator/lawyer who said my license was in, but the Ministry of Health was moving offices so either pick it up that day or wait another month.  So I ventured out to their offices and they happened to be right across the street from the Goldstein Youth Village which is where I stayed the first time I was ever in Israel as a teenager with Camp Ramah.  Great memories, and from a time in my life when I never would have dreamed that I would one day live here.

We also made it to Holon to get the "extra stamping" on our driver's license conversion paperwork.  Had to chuckle when the clerk told us we were lucky because the process for us is "chick chock" (super fast).  I guess compared to what the Israelis have to go through our 10-steps must seem small, but it's not what I would call super fast.  We have now had two driver's lessons and are waiting for the call that we can go take the test.  I think as part of the process it would be more informative to call it "deprogramming" as opposed to "lessons."  Our instructor was an older French Moroccan Jew who came to Israel when he was 10.  He had certainly seen a few things.  His job as I saw it was to undo all of the bad driving habits we've picked up after 20 odd years of driving.  I think the more defensive a driver you are, the less deprogramming you need.  Fortunately, it wasn't until December when Shira was here and taught me how to "drive like an Israeli" so I didn't have a lot of deprogramming to go through.  We did almost get in a car accident b/c I was driving following the rules and the car behind couldn't handle it.  Michael needs just a wee bit more deprogramming, and hopefully we will both pass the test.

The week before Passover is vacation and we have already taken the kids on a few outings.  We went to the zoo last week and N mentioned to someone that he was an "oleh chadash" (new immigrant.)  "My Hebrew is surprisingly good", he said "compared to my mom's."  Actually, I will have you know that the latest medical ulpan (medical Hebrew language class) started and you have to take a test to get in.  Yours truly passed the test although the tester kept saying "I think you're being modest" in reference to my protests that I didn't think my Hebrew was good enough.   When I asked her what modest meant I think she saw I wasn't faking.  Nevertheless I did pass the written test and felt good about that but as the class is about two hours away each direction I have decided to study from the book at home.

In other news, N went on his first youth group overnight trip.  There is a national youth group movement here called Bnai Akiva, and when we first got here he insisted that he wouldn't join but his friends go, and as he warmed up more to Israel, he wanted to join.  I'm not sure most American parents would have been so comfortable b/c I don't think there is a lot (or maybe any) adult supervision on these trips.  The whole thing seems to have been run by teenagers.  But, if you're going for integration you have to be willing to have some sleepless nights.  Somewhere between the bonfires and the speech by Naftali Bennet (new Knesset member) N clearly had a great time and I think even started to take some pride in his being here.

Passover is here and what a wonderful time to be in Israel.  Everything is so different.  First of all your neighbors and friends are doing all the cleaning, prepping that you're doing and the stores are set up in a way to facilitate.  In years past it's always been "rush to the grocery and get the xxxxx before they run out."  Whatever that item may be.  Or order 750 of them from a coop just to have the 5 that you need.  Now we just go to the store and get the yogurt, margarine, cottage cheese, and whatever off the shelf.  Most food here is more expensive (except the produce and a few other things) but ironically Passover seems to be the one time of year that someone from visiting from the US who found themselves at the grocery store might think we were the ones with the good prices since we just continue buying the same things.    Old habits die hard so not to worry we still have way too much food in our house right now.  L: "we're going to eat all of that in one week?"  N:  "You'd be surprised."  I do love not having to ration the yogurt or Bisli or whatever.  We're doing seder with friends and we split up the cooking which is nice and makes everything more manageable.  M found all types of Shmurah (handmade) matzos to try--we'll even have soft matzos at our seder this year, and he even baked matzos himself with a group of friends who organized a matzo baking night.   And of course, only one seder!  We will miss the D family big time but traveling around Israel for an extra day is such a treat.  Since moving here I have several times heard the kids remark "Being Jewish is great---there's always something to celebrate."