It’s been over two months since I wrote; simple answer – settling in to Israel has required some adjusting! Let’s back track.
There I was in Australia, the start of summer, waiting patiently for my Aliyah paperwork to go through (six months in the making). I had a letter in hand stating that I would be approved as a “Returning Minor”, no visa as yet but that’s a technicality. So, for someone like me who is an “I make things happen” person, I decided to pay for my own flights, pay for the excess baggage, and take the risk that everything would go smoothly at the Misrad Hapnim when I fronted up at the door! It did not. Suffice it to say, that day was trying.
I decided to walk there from Yafo to explore my new city. I arrived first thing in the morning to be told that I already had a Teudat Zehut identity number therefore should go to the Misrad Haklita – a couple of kilometres across town. I fronted up there to be told that I needed to return to the Misrad Hapnim to get my ID first. Sure, it wasn’t raining so הלכתי ברגל. Eight kilometres later, a long line of immigrants, and many a conversation with government officials, I was tired, still no answers, and no one really knew what to do with me – I called it a day about ready to cry. People aren’t kidding when they talk about Israeli bureaucracy! I got home (a small loft I had rented), and reminded myself that I’ve experienced bureaucracy before, in various countries, in various degrees, and it is nothing new and will be resolved.
Where am I now? Physically – still here in the heart of Tel Aviv waiting patiently. Mentally – I question the decision of Aliyah wondering if I can make it. Can I succeed in living in this country? A language barrier, a cultural barrier, without family, without the knowledge of the system, without the security of “knowing” a place like the back of your hand???
And the advice I have gotten so far is this, ברוכים הבאים, תעשי חיים, לאט לאט. Literally translated to “Welcome, do life, slowly slowly”.
It’s hard being in a land that you feel is yours but it’s not yet home. Moreover, it is philosophically questionable to say that any land is your own, more than any other, for any person. In a time of growing uncertainty and political pressure on the State, there isn’t much that we can call our own. However, when I go to the local shop to buy groceries from an Arabic kid who notices I am new, and he says to me ”Welcome”, I cannot help but feel just a little bit more assured.
So I ride my bike like any other local – weaving in and out of traffic no doubt risking my life every time I do! I try to speak as much Hebrew and Arabic as I can – humbly and without reservations. And I continue – knowing that there will be hard days.