Aliyah: Two Weeks an Israeli

I was never promised a rose garden.

I was never told this would be easy. In fact, I was told this would be the hardest best thing I’ve ever done. Two weeks in and we’ve accomplished a lot: we’ve upgraded our health coverage, our bank account is the correct type, we’ve gotten our credit cards from the bank, we made it to Misrad HaAliyah V’Ha’Klita and did everything necessary there to add my husband to our little family of Olim (we haven’t yet made it to Misrad Hapnim [Ministry of the Interior] but we’ll get there… next week perhaps). We even moved into our new apartment in Givat Shmuel. Granted, we are sleeping on a sofa bed (our bed is on order and we’re on the hunt for a couch), but we have an oven, a stovetop, a microwave, a fridge, and a few other necessities. It doesn’t feel quite like our home yet, but we’re on our way.

Logistics and putting everything together has actually been the easy part. We found a great Tamboria (hardware store) in our local mini mall that sells more than just hardware; he has home goods, electronics, kitchen stuffs, and more. When I asked him where he got the decorations that he had hanging from his ceiling so that I could put some in my son’s room, he said they had been a gift and gave us some for my little one.

This is just one example of what I’ve experienced so far. Everyone has been super kind to me and to us. Very friendly, very helpful, and I’ve only had to argue with one cashier (note to new Olim: whatever the price marked on an item, by law, is what you must be charged). I have heard horror stories on how unhelpful some places can be, but I haven’t experienced that yet.

So what isn’t my rose garden? My emotions.

Prior to making Aliyah I wondered how long it would take for me to realize this was real, for me to get homesick. I’m not exactly homesick but, two weeks in, I am sad and cried myself to sleep last night.

My mom passed away almost two years ago and she had always wanted to make Aliyah; she had even started the process before she got married. I feel closer to her now than I ever have before. I want to call her and ask her what things were like for her in Israel in the ’60s and ’70s. I want to share my experiences. I want to show her my son who has mastered walking, and running, in the past week. I want to tell her how he loves it here because he gets to be outdoors all the time. I feel so close to her and, as such, not having my mom around is so much harder than it’s ever been. I miss her more now than I have ever missed her.

I’m also 17 weeks pregnant (due around Chanukah) and miss my family and friends. Seeing photographs of friends visiting some of my favorite stomping grounds makes things emotionally difficult. I like Givat Shmuel a lot (from what I’ve seen), but I’ve never made a major move like this, and while I enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places, this is an entirely new level of everything. My comfort level is very low right now.

In order to try and help me feel better, my husband walked me to a salon this morning (since I am not yet comfortable with directions) where I got a pedicure and two nights ago I bought us a box of Magnum Minis (ice cream). If I can’t have the comforts of Michigan, then I will have my own personal comforts. It helps a lot.

I’ve spoken to a good friend/Olah from Michigan who also lives in GS and though we didn’t get to meet up today, it was nice to hear her voice. I have a Skype date set up with my best friend sometime on Sunday and my husband’s cousin is coming over for dinner tonight — our first in our new apartment (I can’t yet call it a home).

What I’ve discovered in these two weeks is that you need to make yourself a home here; that takes action and that is not easy. Israel is a wonderful place with wonderful people. Don’t get me wrong; every place has jerks and a**holes and every country has frustrations, but the overwhelming majority of everything here has been positive thus far.

Day by day and little by little (l’at l’at) I will make my new home here. L’at l’at, I will meet new people with whom I want to spend time, and l’at l’at, I will feel more comfortable walking around my own neighborhood. L’at l’at, my losses will affect me less and I will think of my mom with a smile instead of tears.

Until then, I will cry each day, eat my ice cream, schedule Skype dates with old friends, and meet up with new ones.

And one day I will wake up and suddenly realize I have my rose garden. And it’ll be beautiful.

About the Author
Talya Woolf is a new Olah, an American-licensed attorney, handgun instructor, amateur photographer, and artist. She is politically conservative, Modern Orthodox, and ardent Zionist. She enjoys spending time with family, friends, running, photography, and reading about highly contagious diseases and WWII.
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