After completing our BOGO year, meaning our second year of making aliyah, what have we learned from it all?

In some ways, we have seen more of our friends since moving here than we did when we lived in the States. But it is bar/bat mitzvah time for many of our kid’s friends, this coming year will likely be quieter, but keep coming, even if you don’t tell us, because the more the merrier.

We have pulled vegetables, packed rice, written tefillin, climbed many steps and hills, roamed beaches and countryside inside and outside the lines, watched the amazing Willy Wonka-like production of Coca Cola, made our own techelet, climbed aboard tanks, helicopters and jets and even a Monster slide. Oh, the places you can go and the things you can see in Israel.

You give up Carvel, Krispy Kreme and Slurpees for amazing fresh out of the oven cheese danish and falafel, 8.8% beer and the ability to eat at almost every greasy spoon you can imagine because they are kosher here. Yes, we pay a lot of money for gas, but it doesn’t even come close to how much we save on health insurance premiums.

The jobs and salaries here are not going to help you buy an apartment, let alone a house, unless you brought the money with you, or inherit it. A sad, but very true fact, which, no matter your age when you come, can be frustrating. On the bright side, lots of apartments rent very cheaply, even houses rent cheaply, but again, your salary needs to at least cover it.

The country understands this and in a typical Israeli view of the world, Olim only receive a five year passport, this is after their Teudat Maavar which is an interim passport like travel document. Once you get your five-year passport, it is then extended, by stamp, for another five years and if you succeed in persevering you then get blessed with a 10-year passport.

So the country doesn’t believe you will stay, your home country family probably doesn’t believe you will stay, your friends from around the world still can’t believe you stay, so why do we stay? Oh, and the kids have said they are happy to stay as they enjoy their freedom and the small town feel that maybe has been lost to most of America at this point.

When we look around the world right these days we see horrible terrorist attacks on civilians everywhere in the world which injure many people. In some ways, we are safer here when you think about the way individuals get hurt. Yes, it may be more random here, but as someone who travels for work overseas on occasion, the idea of waiting in a foreign airport where I don’t trust their security to be as good as what we have at Ben Gurion is just another reason to visit Whiskies of the World or the Duty Free sampling area much more often.

People are creatures of habit, some of them never venture out and learn about new restaurants or places to visit while the new people like us look at everything as new. We have no past to not go here or there, we just do.  So we teach our friends about some things and they help us find what we seek when we have no idea where it is hiding here.

We enjoy Rehovot and our group of friends who we spend Shabbat with, nights out, grilling meat and drinking scotch, beer, and tequila to all hours, Sunday night football, Saturday night basketball, learning groups, and Fridays at the pool in the summer.

In short, it is like being in summer camp all year long, but you have bills to pay and kids to shuttle around town.

Maybe your life is like this where you are right now, maybe it is not and you wish you had fun in your life again.

Living in Israel means many things to many people, but for us, it is home and the place we have fun again.