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Monday, July 29, 2013

Party like it's 1979

Our first year in Israel has passed.  When we landed here July 2012 it was not in our plan to move again but here we are a year later in a new city.  Moving this time wasn't nearly as dramatic.  Of course the most obvious reason is we didn't have to cross any oceans but putting distance aside, we've been here a year and things have changed.  We brought children who speak Hebrew (mind you not like native Israelis--except maybe Ariella) but they can run and play with kids they meet without the barriers they faced last summer.  We brought kids who think that bread and chocolate spread is a meal, can give the "wait a second" hand gesture like naturals,  drink chocolate milk from a bag and....

Moving into a building with a courtyard has been like a gift from above.  Basically, kids from the 4 buildings gather in the evening and play.  That breakdown time when you're making dinner and can't handle one more "I'm bored" has been whisked away with the intro of neighborhood play.  I can watch them through the kitchen window.  Our kids also discovered the apartment intercom.  And that's fun.  Because of course, why would you walk up a flight of steps if you can just call your mom to let her know every random detail that might enter your head?  Buzzzzz.  I run to the phone thinking someone has come by only to discover that L or A just wants to let me know they want popsicles, or can I make them popcorn because everyone is eating popcorn, and playing takes just way too much energy for them to come up and place their orders in person (Heaven forfend!)  

When I was a kid my mom installed a water fountain on our outdoor spigot to keep us out.  Lucky for her--no intercoms at that house.

Meanwhile, we continue our ongoing quest to discover what is wrong with Ariella.  You might remember that her pre-K teacher last year was very concerned because A did not speak Hebrew when we arrived.   This clearly indicated to her a serious deficiency and she was adamant that we get to the core.  Well readers, you will be relieved to hear that after seeing every type of therapist, specialist, and undergoing a series of tests it turns out it was just that she was born in Kansas.  Phew.  It has been interesting to watch at the different offices because Ariella is like a native Israeli now in many of her mannerisms and her accent, but because she is bilingual there are certain words that she just has not yet come into contact with and it's interesting to watch the development.  

It's especially rewarding when we are at the grocery store or pretty much anywhere in public and A starts in with her inquiries.  Why did you say it that way ima? (ie the grammatically incorrect way that doesn't make so much sense)

And me.  I started at the urgicare.  It has been interesting, to say the least.  I did my first 4 shifts at the main center in Jerusalem.  Most of the patients were extremely understanding that my Hebrew was so poor.  One couple became irate and apparently screamed all sorts of insults at me.  The poor nurse came in and apologized.  "I hope you're not offended."  I just chuckled because frankly unless they had given those insults veeeerrrryyyy slooooowly and repeated things a couple of times, I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of understanding what they said.  I have started working now in Modiin and changed my opening line to "I'm new to Israel so my Hebrew is only so-so,  let's go slow."  It's great because I get welcomed to Israel 20 times a night and many wishes of good luck etc.  The irony of course is that occasionally an American tourist comes through and they sigh with relief "thank goodness you speak English."  ahem.  

Another great thing about our new quad (there are actually 2 quads) is that by sheer dumb luck we seem to have ended up in a great spot for adults.  First, we were invited to a Kiddush by one of our neighbors.  Never having been to one we weren't entirely sure what to expect.  Basically this is a time--after services, but before lunch on Shabbat morning to have a couple of drinks, some cake and socialize without a full lunch.  Kind of like meeting someone for coffee instead of dinner.  Of course this only works in places like Israel where the "late" minyan finishes at 10:45.  Anyway, we have now been to two Kiddushes and they are fantastic.  We also got invited to a wine and cheese/karaoke party last week.   Like an old fashioned block party.  It was really fun though making small talk in Hebrew was a bit challenging for me and I don't think my wittiness improved with the Chardonnay.   I'm sure neighbors were impressed with comments like "I am Eliana.  I live building 6.  We are new.  We like here.  Is fun."  Sounds like these block parties happen every few months so hopefully after a few months at the urgicare I can at least say "How long have you had that rash?   Is it itchy? Have you had a high fever?"  "How long have you had blood in your stool?"

Another favorite cultural phenomenon is that Nehemiah has fallen in with a group of boys this age who made aliyah at sometime in their life (usually earlier), and as a result, these children are in a time warp.  Instead of talking about whoever is the newest-hottest-hippest band in 2013, these kids will have conversations like this real-life exemplar:

Kid 1: "Keith Moon is the greatest drummer ever.  The Who rocks.   But the Boss is the best.  I love Born to Run."
Kid 2: "I'm more into Rush, myself."

And people say that parents have no influence over their children . . .