Keith Brooks
International Business Executive Living and Working in Israel

1st Year Done, Lifetime Left for the Journey

First a small guest post before my thoughts.

Really? It’s been a year since we left Boca Raton? I had no idea, wow time flies.

I remember standing in line with everyone at the airport wondering what was next, you know especially when you need the bathroom, and a drink, but you need to hang out in line.  Luckily Nefesh b Nefesh had water for everyone.

Getting on the plane with that sense of what am I doing here, how did I get here, and putting all my faith in the big guy. And then we come out the other side and have this big party in the airport, so many people, hard to see everyone, but eventually we found each other.

Then climb into the bus that took us to Rehovot and our apartment, garden, garage and all. Off we went on a walk around the neighborhood, and aside from the cat problem (evidently this is everywhere here), it seemed nice enough.

And Rehovot is! Walking the kids to school during the year, meeting new people, smelling the fresh cooking everywhere, especially Thursday nights and Fridays, it has been a great year.  In between, we had many days hanging about in the sun, cold, sand, grass and parks. We went away sometimes on Shabbat, but often stayed in Rehovot where we hung out with our new friends.

It wasn’t all fun and games, and while I still do not catch everything people say to me, or speak their language back so fluently, I get along well. Thanks for bring me to Israel!

Wow! Can you believe that my dog had that much to say? She sleeps all day, or so I thought. Except for “The Incident”, who knew she liked Israel so much! My kids did not want to go on record at this point over here, they are adding their pearls of wisdom over there.

Yes we picked a great year to come on Aliyah, we arrived during Operation Protective Edge, started a Shmitta year, had an extra day tacked on to our chagim and we survived thrived from it all or in spite of it all.

Our kids do speak Hebrew and understand quite a bit now, not quite Chanukah time as people claimed, more like Pesach. Me? I didn’t think I would be taking a train to work every day, recollections of my 1989-93 NY subway trips to Wall Street and other places, but this time much better, we have air conditioning and  soft seats, and it doesn’t smell. Plus they give out free newspapers. Working and getting paid are the hardest part about living here, but if you know what you want you will find it, and people will find you. My Hebrew is moderately better, vocabulary is coming along, but the on the fly conjugations is killing me, and the service people I call when I need help with something like fixing our phone bill.

Our chevra in Rehovot really have been great, we learn so much from them, and hopefully we bring them something in return. More and more people come to Rehovot now to check it out, we hope we have helped some of them in that journey to see life exists beyond the big 5 of Jerusalem, Efrat, Modiin, Ra’anana, Beit Shemesh or the Go North and Go South options.

I still cannot find Candy Corn here, but friends bring me some when they visit. I have simple needs. We bought a grill, because man cannot survive without fire, I mean meat, nor without friends, and their drinks.

Ok, we didn’t buy a couch yet, and that is my fault. Anyone want to buy some antique Judaica carved ivory, mother of pearl inlaid Damascus art chairs, let me know, my wife and kids would be really appreciative.

We bought a used car because have you seen how people drive here? Or the fact that building support poles are so close only a mini motorcycle would fit between them but your car should fit? That is what we have, live with it. These are minor things people in the grand scheme of it all. Secretly I want the car to last until my oldest is ready to drive. A man can dream.

Buy the annual parks pass, the first years you will use it so much it pays for itself after only a few sites. You can buy it at the first park you go to or online. If every step you take in Israel is a mitzvah, go out and see more parks and sites. Tantalize your children how the Tanach is not just stories, and history is not just something from before cell phones. Great palaces, mosaics, caves, cities, waterfalls and more just waiting for you to take a selfie with the family.

New olim or curios people, ask your questions, no matter how many times people ask the same ones, there are always new answers. Rules change, stores open/close, yes the DMV sucks here as much as anywhere, Meches(Customs Authority) is just as ambiguous as an IRS Agent on the hunt and we seem to elect felons to Knesset, but at least we know what is wrong with them upfront! Also, who knew there were so many levels of kashrut, and I am not even talking about Monsey or Manchester craziness.

Everyone has an opinion and they will give it to you, on the street, in supermarkets, the butcher, the barber, everywhere. I feel like we live in one giant kibbutz sometimes. I call it the Big Falafel because you have no idea what each day brings or the people you will meet, but it is almost always good, and sometimes a bit messy.

Ever wonder why Israel is the land flowing of milk and honey like we were reminded this past Shababt (Devarim 11:9)? If you think about it, this does not make sense. Honey is sticky, gooey, thick, slow moving, and usually is stuck in one place type of food. Milk in contrast is liquid, easily moved, fluid, soft and goes everywhere…especially when in a bag.  And so it is with Israel, you get the quick and the slow, the hard and the soft, the hot and the cold, sometimes all in one day, or hour, depending on where you are, and what you are doing. But the Torah says flowing with milk and honey, which means the milk wins over the honey and you learn to let things go and enjoy everything.

There is always something to do here, but sometimes there is not enough time in the day or week for it all. When you have so many museums, hikes, historic and ancient sites, events, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and festivals all year round to see and do it is easy to see how we barely scratched the surface of the tourist items, or fun things to do with the kids.

Israel is not what it was in 1985-86 when I was here for Yeshiva, nor is it the same as when I lived and worked here in 1996-1998. It is not the old desert world either. If you have not been recently, or ever, come on over and be amazed at the modern, and ancient, that work, and exist, side by side.

My friend uses the #livingthedream in his social media and it is true, when you are here you are living the dream, maybe not the one your wife, kids, or dog have, but it is yours! Better to live your dream and proclaim to everyone you did one thing right in your life.

My kids don’t hate us for moving, the dog is ecstatic every time she sees me, and at the end of year 1 all is good. To all my friends we did not get to see yet or even speak to on the phone, or spend shabbat, let’s do it sooner than later so I have more to say for year 2.

This post was written for the anniversary of the day my family landed in Israel.

About the Author
Keith Brooks made Aliyah in 2014 with his wife, 3 kids, and their dog. Keith writes about his Aliyah, Israel and Jewish life in general. Keith advises B2B companies on how to approach their potential clients regarding pricing, marketing and sales pitches. Keith is a MassChallenge Israel mentor and an IBM Champion. Keith is available to speak to your organization as well.
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