October 8 was not my birthday.

But a milestone it was.

October 8 was my Aliyahversary. I’m officially One Israel-year-old. I won’t spend a whole blog post detailing the events of the year – I’ll save that for my personal diary. But, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned this year.

  1. Saying you made Aliyah because you wanted to return to the Jewish ancestral homeland gets old fast. While it is true, and many would say a fulfillment of the words of the prophets, it is far more entertaining to say things like, “I wanted to wear sandals for most of the year; or, I just love hummus A LOT. Which brings me to my next lesson…
  2. Hummus is amazing. If I liked it before, it remains a) The best of the salatim b) An excellent meal together with some rice cakes and matbucha c) Delicious with all sorts of toppings like meat, onions and mushrooms. YUM!hummus
  3. The best thing an oleh or olah can do when they arrive in Israel is switch over to the Koren Sacks siddur. You get beautiful English translations; all of the instructions (bow here, say this etc.); a very user-friendly layout (the verses that are meant to be read as poetry actually appear as poetry rather than prose); and most importantly, it is built for someone living in Israel (including Yom Ha’atzmaut tefillah and tefillah for the chagim with one day of Yom Tov).
  4. Coffee and cigarettes is a national past time. Nothing North Americans can do will change that.
  5. Aliyah is a great time for re-invention. Seriously. I was a teacher before making aliyah. I arrived in Israel and changed career paths completely. Making aliyah is a great time to reassess your skills and strengths and try and find new and creative ways to apply them.
  6. Israeli wine is awesome. Some personal favorites include the Binyamina Merlot, Psagot Prat (Port style), Shoresh, Tzora’s Shoresh White, and for something special, Tzora makes an ice wine called Or. And if you missed the Jerusalem Wine Festival, make sure to check it out next year. binyamina
  7. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is; it is always a good time to sit in a local café, have a drink, read, write, think, get some work done, or meet up with a friend. Some personal favorites include Ben Ami and SOYO on Emek Refaim. I may or may not have written half of this post in one, and the other half in the other. Also, both cafés have gluten free options including sandwiches and French toast.french toast
  8. Olim take care of each other. For this, I am extraordinarily grateful. Not having too many family members in close proximity, I’m not sure how I would survive without the help and support of fellow olim helping me get through bureaucracy (Can anyone say Arnona? Shoot. I still need to pay that.), coming by with Gatorade when I’ve been sick, and generally being a listening ear and sounding board through the ups and downs of Aliyah.
  9. Fridays are not Sundays. I don’t think I go a week without saying so.
  10. It’s all about the little things. On one hand, you can’t let the minor annoyances ruin your day, and on the other, it’s the little things that count the most. Recognize them; appreciate them. I’ve had the chance to do so by taking part in #100happydays, and now with a gratitude project called #365Grateful. Try it yourself!

October 8 may not be my birthday, but it has definitely been an opportunity for rebirth.