Chofesh HaGadol

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The language. The society. The occupational downgrading. Whoever prepares for aliyah, arrives in Israel with a ready obstacles checklist, with the plan to surpass them all and of course, write the annual social media text to show off his courage. So, when you finally think you have everything under control, a new crossroad appears and for this one, you have not been properly prepared. Welcome to the chofesh hagadol.

Literally, “big holidays” and – in my opinion – one of the few subtleties of the Hebrew language, children’s endless vacations require nearly a business plan. Anyone who works to afford the anything but modest cost of living in Israel and can not count on the help of family (yes, practically the entire immigrants population) usually begins to sweat months before the end of school year party, when we get all excited about our little ones singing songs that were trained to exhaustion, and eat vegetables and fruit chopped by parents who did not see the items list sent by WhatsApp in time, and therefore could not choose between napkins and disposable cups.

If you have relatives abroad who are thinking of paying a visit, you extend your house’s red carpet and insist that July and August are just amazing to be spent in Israel. There are some people who pay a plane ticket to an aunt, who receive the mother-in-law with sincere tears of emotion, who has a mother who never lets it go. When this is not the case, you can always bargain for a holiday at work, remembering that modest twelve working days are the tone around here (which means you still have endless minus 25 percent). And so, it comes the millionaire salvation named ‘keitana’, or simply, summer camp.

The keitanot are usually divided into week slots and, except for the first that is usually subsidized by the municipalities, you replace most of your dream trips with them.
If you choose a riding keitana, forget Paris and the Champs-Élysées hotel. Arts keitana means you won’t travel to Tuscany this year. If music keitana is what they want, you’ll have to plan to visit the Swiss Alps when you retire.

Of course it is still a convenience and so, you must overlook that they end up in time just enough for you to flee desperate from work to pick up your child at the last minute and get home to fulfill the combo: laundry-cooking-cleaning. But cool, on Friday you will be able to finally relax, join all the other parents and choose one of the absolutely crowded programs from north to south of the country. I, for example, live 20 kilometers away from Eilat and will only step over there between July and August if it is to escape to Sinai.

Not everything is stumbling blocks, though. After all, it will be two months without receiving messages from the teachers at 9:30 p.m. “Please, tomorrow bring sliced zucchini seasoned with zaatar.” “Reminder: tomorrow, three cardboards and two cellophane papers”. “Sunday will be sports day, boys must wear neon green t-shirts and girls, yellow-ochre”.

Therefore, parents, I wish you strength. But also creativity, ability to visualize the blue light and patience to park in Sky Jump. Sixty-two days will fly by and soon we will be raking our brains with Rosh Hashanah.

About the Author
Nurit Masijah Gil is a Brazilian-Israeli writer with nearly 100 chronicles published in Portuguese in both countries. In 2014, she launched her book titled "Little Ms. Perfect," in which she tells about her tragicomic wife-and-mom life. In 2017, she moved to Israel with her family. In 2019, she changed her busy suburban life as a content writer at a startup company, in Israel's central region, for a peaceful life at her own oasis at the Arava desert -- a 1,000-member ishuv -- where she has crowned her aliyah.
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