Well it's certainly been some time. It's not that I haven't thought about blogging, because I certainly have. And frankly the immigrant experience is so ripe with material that nary a day goes by that I couldn't write something. But, since my last post, my father died. And while I know I was incredibly lucky to have a dad like mine, the loss is so complete. Of course I know that the natural end of the life cycle is death but the utter blackness that is the realization that you will never, not even once, not even a chance, not ever see the person again is so painful. Though this is the oysandjoys blog (thanks again to my super creative friend Ilene for the title) I think I should focus more on the oys than the joys. In that light, I offer a few thoughts about my dad that are happy, especially since he wanted us to remember the good times and remember him as he was throughout his life, not as the cancer left him at the end.
I remember once on a car trip he engaged us for the better part of an hour with an incredible tale about a man he knew who was a spy. By the end of the story we were begging and pleading with him to tell us who this amazing man was. His reply. "His name was Bond. James Bond," followed by his ever infectious laugh. My dad was the same person who told me at 8 years old that no one was really happy. Happiness, he explained, was a Hollywood idea. Those two stories might begin to illustrate a father who was always engaged with us, always interested in our lives and our friend's lives and in life itself. I miss you dad.
Anyway, where to even begin? Last summer we visited family in the US, and at some point I should probably write about the experience as seen through the eyes of my children, who probably didn't even remember the land that they missed and then re-experienced again as foreigners. They met their cousin, Golda, for the first time and Ariella attached the Israeli "oush" so she became Goldoush. They loved being with family and seeing old friends but I was relieved to see them eager to get on the flight home. Home to Israel. On the flight, N asked a few passengers if they were considering Aliyah.
"You should do it," he told them. "It's rough, but it's worth it!"
This morning we went to the Mesibat Siddur for all of the first graders at Ariella's school. Last year I was so impressed with the show the Kindergarten class put on, but since the Kindergartens in Israel are free standing, hers was just a class of 35. The entire first grade performs together so this was over 100 children. It was like a Broadway show. Costume changes, sets and lots of singing and dancing. Think more big choral numbers rather than solo parts. There was one sort of modern dance routine set to the theme song of Mission Impossible which I'll confess I might not be artistically sophisticated enough to have appreciated, but otherwise it was amazing! At the end of the show, the Chief Rabbi of Israel came and shook the hand of each child. I didn't even travel to Israel until I was 17 years old, but my 6 year old daughter has already met the Chief Rabbi.
Watching A in first grade has really been interesting. The other two are fluent in Hebrew but have not yet reached "academic fluency," (crazy as it seems--this is a 5-7 year process!) but A is truly bilingual. It's amazing to see her read and write in both languages and actually understand what she's reading. My hope had been to keep up with the first grade curriculum, but alas they have passed me. My Hebrew has definitely improved, though. I have come to realize that when we moved to Israel and I used to tell people that my Hebrew was bad, I was quite mistaken. My Hebrew was essentially non-existent. Now, after 2.5 years my Hebrew is bad. What an improvement! Even one of the kids' teachers noted a major difference in my ability to communicate. In spite of my efforts, there still remains such a major gap. Life without a firm grasp of the language is like living in a semi-constant state of confusion. I might not be using salt in the dishwasher or cleaning the toilets with oven cleaner any more but I still have a long way to go.
On that front, I have a new Hebrew conversation partner. The idea is that she will improve her English and I will improve my Hebrew. She grew up on a Kibbutz in the 80's, so she was one of those kids who grew up in a "kids' area" and not at home with her parents. Fascinating.
Anyway, so much more to write about. Including elections, house pets, school events. But for now just getting back to blogging.