138 Months in Israel

I just realized that yesterday was my 11 ½ year anniversary of making aliyah. (I know, not quite a number that demands recognition or celebration.)

A lot though has happened in those years, and in many ways I feel like I have become a very different person since becoming an Israeli.

So, in honor of 138 months of living in this great land, I share the following ways in which I have changed:

Here we go.

Since making aliyah, I…

Started eating charif (well, at least a little).

Drink Turkish coffee.

Say “Yofi”, “Yaa’la” or “B’seder” in almost every sentence.

Honk at the car in front of me for letting pedestrians cross (just kidding, no I’m not…).

Am shocked when I got to Port Authority in NYC and see 50 people standing patiently and happily in an organized line.

Can no longer tolerate smiley, friendly sales people in stores during those same visits.

Love saying “La’briyut” to a stranger eating food.  Love it even more when strangers say it to me.

Don’t leave phone messages anymore. If someone leaves me one, I don’t listen to it.

Call back a missed call from a number I don’t recognize.

Make all kinds of grammatical mistakes in English I never made before, saying things like, “We can go OR to the beach OR to the park.”

Have my Hebrew corrected by my kids (all under 10 years old) all the time.

Still barely understand what they are saying on the news on the radio.

Have actually thought about buying a traveling coffee making set.

Buy less and less stuff when in America.

Buy more stuff in Israel in multiple payments.

Now understand how two mature and responsible grown-ups can go into minus by the end of the month.

Get emotional when I see a parent drop off their kid in the army at the train early Sunday morning.

Am a little scared to check the news lest there was a terror attack somewhere in Israel.

Am still inspired when I see Arabs and Jews working together in the same store, conversing like two normal human beings.

Think it’s humorous, interesting, ironic and super cool that my Ashkenazi kids like Mizrachi music.

Have accepted the fact that my salary here is half of what I would get in America and many things cost twice as much. Kind of.

Finally understand how the Israeli government works. Kind of.

Am finally starting to learn the songs my kids sing in gan.

Still believe that Israel will one day know peace, even as that day seems to be getting further and further away.

Still love and kvell over each and every “Only in Israel” moment.

Thank G-d every day for blessing me with the merit to live and raise my kids in Israel.

About the Author
Akiva Gersh has been working in the field of Jewish and Israel Education for over 20 years. In 2020 he founded @Israel to share his love and passion for Israel with students, schools and communities around the world through his online classes, courses and virtual tours of Israel. Akiva is also the editor of the book "Becoming Israeli" (, a compilation of essays that gives an inside look at the unique experience of making aliyah and the journey of acclimating to life in Israel. Akiva himself made aliyah in 2004 with his wife Tamar and they live in Pardes Hanna with their four kids. You can learn more about his work at as well as about his work teaching about Judaism and veganism at
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