Thursday, July 12, 2012

One Year Anniversary


One year ago today, I sat on a plane making its descent into Ben-Gurion airport. My dream of a lifetime was coming true. There are really no words to describe how I felt. As prepared as I thought I was, I was beginning a new life, full of uncertainty. The way things have “fallen” into place for me in the past 12 months have been nothing short of miracles from G-d. Living in Israel is an amazing, wonderful thing, filled with frustrations, bureaucracy, and “that’s not how they do it in America”. It’s hard to get used to a new language, new culture, new people, new job, new medical system, etc. But the benefits and rewards have been immense. I will probably struggle with the language forever, but my Hebrew has vastly improved, and I think I’ve managed to get by in all situations. [Just don’t ask me to call my cellphone company! :)] 

I am sitting and watching the live webcast of the latest Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight, exactly one year after my aliyah, and I am overflowing with emotions. The tears started not 30 seconds after I started watching. I know exactly how these people feel. And I am so grateful I’m on the other side! 

If you want to get a taste for how I feel, and why my FaceBook posts are (generally) so upbeat, please go read this.

Yes, there is an ache in my heart for my family and friends back in the US, but it’s nothing like the ache my heart was feeling to come home. 

As my friend Rachel said “Aliyah is not about running away, but running towards what is good and right.” 

It’s been the most amazing year, in so many ways, and I can’t wait to keep living the dream!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut 5772

How can I express my emotions on 2 of the most emotional days for me since I have made aliyah?
Living in Israel has always been on the forefront of my mind, ever since my first trip here, when I was 18.  It was always a dream that I planned for in all aspects of my life.  When that dream finally came true, I was overcome with gratitude to Hashem for allowing me to finally be living my life in our holy land.
Since I have arrived, I have been blessed with so many wonderful things and I really feel like Hashem is guiding my every step and allowing me to live life the fullest here in Eretz Yisrael.
I know I haven’t been blogging so much, but thank G-d life is busy! 
Pesach was truly wonderful and I should definitely write a post about that, but for today, the past 2 days are fresh in my mind.

Yom Hazikaron is always the day before Yom Ha’atzmaut.  It is the day we remember all the fallensoldiers and civilians, who have died for our country.  It’s a very sad and emotional day, as almost everyone in Israel has lost a family member or a close friend in a war or terrorist attack.
The commemorations start the evening before, like all Jewish Holidays.  A friend and I went to the Kotel for the official state ceremony.  It started with the lowering of the flag to half mast and the lighting of a memorial candle.
Then there was a 1 minute siren to mark the beginning of the day.  President Shimon Peres spoke, tehillim and Kaddish were said, and the singing of Hatikvah.  It was very moving.

In the morning I made my way to Har Herzl, the military cemetery.  This country really knows how to do it right.  As we entered Har Herzl, we were given a small booklet  printed with relevant chapters in tehillim to say and Kaddish.  There were bunches of flowers available to take to the graves, and water bottles were provided for all the visitors.
We just walked to the different sections of graves and said tehillim and answered Amen to the many people saying Kaddish at graves of their family members. 
One really nice thing we noticed was an English speaking rabbi leading a group of girls, must have been from one of the seminaries, so we tagged along for a bit.  The rabbi was telling a story of a certain soldier and how he gave up his life to save his comrades, and then pointed out his grave.  It made the day so much more personal. 
There was an official tekes (ceremony) at Har Herzl as well, which was broadcast over the loudspeaker.  The 2 minute siren went off at 11 AM and then President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke, as well as the recitation of Kaddish and a special yizkor.  Bibi Netanyahu lost his brother, Yoni, in Entebbe, and he spoke so eloquently. 
I randomly bumped into my favorite chayal, my cousin Michael, which was a fun surprise.

As the day came to an end, the transition started to Yom Ha’atzmaut.  I went to a special tefilla chagigit at a local Beit Knesset and it was so moving. We raised the flag back up to full mast and once Yom Ha’atzmaut started the city just came alive with celebrations. 
Even Google got in on the celebrations!

On Thursday morning I woke up early and spent the day doing a hike and BBQ with friends.  The weather was perfect and the entire country is celebrating!  I can’t even describe how it felt.  I truly felt like I had finally come home.

Because others express my feelings so well, here are some links I enjoyed this week.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Six Months!

Six months!

Wow, where has the time gone?  6 months ago, I fulfilled my life-long dream and landed in Israel as an olah chadasha.  What a whirlwind time period!

In so many ways, I feel like I have been living here for so much longer.  With all the bureaucracy and learning how to navigate a new country and new society, and most of all a new JOB!, it just really feels like home.    Thank G-d, I have made many new friends, graduated from ulpan, and began stimulating the Israeli economy with my shekel paycheck. 

I had a Chanukah post started but visitors from the US kept me very busy, and of course, I’m also working full time and getting used to that.  Chanukah was incredible beautiful.  I can’t even describe what it’s like to live somewhere where Chanukah is the only holiday being celebrated in December.  Instead of a Christmas tree adorning my office lobby, with a small electric menorah on the side to be PC, the menorah is the star of the show, and of course nonstop sufganiyot.  The holiday decorations on the streets all reflect OUR chag!    My new friend/family member captures the flavor of Chanukah in Israel so beautifully. 

I’ve been so incredibly blessed, in every step along the way on this fabulous journey.  The new job is really going well.  Great company, nice people, challenging and interesting work.  I love having friends visit from abroad.  Skype has been amazing.  It’s not quite like being there, but it’s really the next best thing. Family and friends’ smachot are popping up, so I don’t feel like I am only missing events in the States.  I am building my life here, and thank G-d, everything that comes along with that is falling into place.
Here’s to the next six and beyond!

Shoutout to she who knows who she is (and better be reading this blog) – I did not use the word ‘amazing’ ONCE in this whole post  :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I got a job!

I'm not going to discuss details on the blog, too public for my liking, but feel free to comment or e mail or contact me via the multiple electronic messaging programs that I have on my iPhone :)

I got a job today!  I actually will be starting tomorrow so it will be a little hectic for the next few weeks, I'm sure.  It's a really great company and I'm very excited to be on board.
Thanks, all, for your moral support!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reaction of Gilad Coming Home

So many other people can express things far better than I can.  Here are some links I found interesting.

Gilad Shalit is home!

Today is a truly joyous day in Israel.  Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier taken hostage over 5 years ago by the Palestinians, has been released today, in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian terrorists.  I'm really not going to comment on the politics of this deal.  There is really no right answer.  I am just happy that Gilad is home.  I am happy to live in a Jewish state, that values life so much.  The entire country is just so happy right now.  Signs like these have been put up all over Jerusalem.

I just watched Gilad's first TV interview.  He seems to be in relatively OK shape, although he is definitely overwhelmed, breathing heavily and not really sure what to answer.  I really thought he would be much worse off, so I'm happy to see him at least physically OK.
Regardless of how anyone feels about the deal, it's a true simcha to have Gilad back home.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chag Sameach!

Just a quick post to say Chag Sameach.  I really should have posted on Thursday night after our ONE DAY OF CHAG was over :)
Yerushalayim is simply amazing.  Check out photos from blogs of friends of mine here , here and here.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in Yerushalayim

The High Holy Days have just ended and I am still on an emotional high from singing L’shana Ha’ba’ah B’Yerushalayim while sitting in shul IN Yerushalayim.  I’m not going to sugar –coat it –- it was not easy being away from my family and my beloved shul on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  There was no rabbi’s sermon here, which is a major component of inspiration for me on Rosh Hashanah and especially Yom Kippur.  But my pre-holiday tefillot at the Kotel were inspiring as well.  And I am so fortunate to have really wonderful friends here, many of whom davened at the same shul, so I didn’t feel quite so alone.
Mostly familiar tunes and some new ones – but the words are all the same.  And knowing that my family and friends across the ocean were singing the same tefillot made me feel very connected to them.

Rosh Hashanah was beautiful, although 3 days is hard no matter where you are!  I was so fortunate to get invited out for the meals by wonderful friends, many of whom feel like family.  Walking through the streets of Yerushalayim on the 1st night of Rosh Hashanah (I had a 55 minute walk home from the Meah Shearim area) was incredible.  The entire city is celebrating the start of a wonderful New Year.
I can’t even begin to explain how it felt when singing parts of the tefillot that mention Yerushalayim.  It was incredibly emotional for me to be here.  I kept thinking back to last Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when I sat in Queens, knowing that my dream of aliyah was going to be coming true in the coming year.  It seemed like such a short time ago.  What a year!
The buses wish everyone a Shana Tova before Rosh Hashanah
On Shabbat I went to the OU Center to hear the Shabbat Shuva drasha given Rabbi Weinreb, formerly of Shomrei Emunah, so I got my Baltimore fix!

In between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur they now say Chatima Tova :)

On Erev Yom Kippur I went to the Kotel for Shacharit.  The streets were already quieter than usual, with most shops closed and everyone preparing for the holy day.  As the sun began to set, the silence was overpowering.  Not one single car was on the street for the entire Yom Kippur.  Living near a very busy intersection, it’s never this quiet outside my window.  It was amazing.  The davening was very beautiful and inspiring.  And now I hear the sounds of sukkot being put up.  The decorations are already being sold on street corners throughout the city.  The holiday season is palpable here and it’s the most wonderful feeling.

Sukkah being put up at the Kotel

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rosh Hashanah is in the Air!

So I know I haven’t blogged in a really long time, but it’s because things are just a routine now, I guess.  Thank G-d I moved into my apartment on September 1 and it’s been really great unpacking all my stuff and getting settled.  The apartment is beautiful and spacious and I even had my first guest last week! (Shout-out to Aliza K J  Miss you!)
It’s a great feeling to have my own place.  It really feels like home and I am just loving it.
Pre-Rosh Hashanah is just a wonderful time here.  Flowers are blooming and you really feel the chag approaching.  I am taking advantage of the many Torah opportunities and attending some really fantastic שיעורים.  I just love how everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, wishes everyone else a שנה טובה.  Every bus driver, cab driver, random person on the bus, cashier, bank teller, etc.  The products in the supermarket even have special חג שמח  packaging.

My cell phone company even sent me Rosh Hashanah greetings!

The pomegranates ripen just in time for ראש השנה and they are displayed in all the supermarkets and at the shuk, along with apples and honey.

 It's impossible not to feel the chag approaching!