[Just a word about the lack of photos. I am "borrowing" an open wifi signal and I don't think it's strong enough to upload pictures. Will hopefully get some up soon when I have a stronger signal.]
So the cab thankfully found its way to the apartment where I am staying for a few weeks. (The driver had said he didn’t know where it was but the GPS got us there OK.) I have amazing, wonderful friends in Queens, the H family, who have a beautiful apartment in Katamon, the neighborhood where I am looking to live. They so very graciously offered me to stay in their apartment for the first few weeks while I get settled and find my own place. This was so generous and I can’t thank them enough.
My dear friend, Gila, is here for the summer and the H’s offered her to stay in the apartment as well, and it has been AMAZING to have her here. Not only did she greet me at the airport with an awesome sign (that garnered plenty of photos and shoutouts J), she also decorated the front door of the apt with welcome signs. The apartment is so beautiful and it is just amazing that I am able to start my new life in a comfortable place. Gila was out when I arrived, so I took a shower and started unpacking a little and then Gila came back. I couldn’t find my camera charger so we walked up to Ben Yehuda and I bought a new one (started supporting the Israeli economy right away!). We then strolled around and went for dinner at a charming café nearby. It was starting to near sunset and the lack of sleep was starting to hit me so we took a cab to the Kotel. I can’t even explain how it felt to be at our holiest site and know that this is now my home. A completely different feeling than I ever felt before. All my emotions came pouring out. As I finished my tefillot, I saw someone I know from NY who is here visiting, and she asked what I was doing in Israel and I said “I just made aliyah! This morning!” It was so surreal to say that.
We took a cab back to the apartment and I thought I would collapse and sleep for a day. Well, after just 4 hours of sleep, I was wide awake. Jet lag hits even if you are completely exhausted. So I got online and watched our arrival ceremony and could not stop looking at all the FB photos. (If you have not watched it yet you can do so at www.nbn.org.il/live. If you are not on FB, there are also photos here.) The tears didn’t stop. After so many years of watching so many arrival ceremonies which almost always included friends of mine, I still couldn’t believe that it was me walking off that plane.
I finally fell asleep again and then woke up a few hours later. Still tired but I knew I had to get my day started. I reviewed all the paperwork from NBN and tried to figure out how to prioritize what I have to get done. I set up appointments to go look at several apartments and then Gila and I went out in the afternoon. Looked at a few places Wednesday night and then took a sleeping pill so I would sleep through the night. It worked like a charm and on Thursday I felt much better.
NBN had a get-together thingie for all of us on Thursday afternoon to get our Teudat Zehut (Israeli ID cards). Normally a new oleh would have to make an appointment and go to the Ministry of Interior to do this, but NBN saved us a trip. It was really nice to see everyone from the flight again; it felt like family reunion. There were all kinds of vendors there and I was able to open a bank account and also buy an iPhone! Of course, nothing could be THAT simple. I still have to go to the branch of the bank and finalize the paperwork for the account and I had to take the phone to a Cellcom store to get it activated, but I made progress!
Thursday night was another apartment to look at. I had not really been in the mood for dinner before but when I came back to the apt I was a little hungry. I had bought some pita earlier and we had chummus in the fridge so my 1st meal as an official olah was the Israeli staple of pita and chummus, how apropos!
Next up…Friday and Shabbat