A year has gone by already. We’ve learned and grown and are so thankful for this “Havaya”. Yes well because everything around here is a Havaya. There is no exact translation for “Havaya”. Is it experience? You wouldn’t say in a job interview that you have experience “yesh li Havaya” , you would call it “Nissayon”. I have some Nissayon in job interviews and let me tell you sometimes they’re a real Havaya!
Speaking of Words and Meaning, I have to say that as much as people bicker out loud on the street here, there is so much love in this country. I’ve learned that there’s so many different ways and different expressions to say My Love.
The most common way to express love is to call someone “Mamy” . I have been called Mamy countless times in the last year. At first I asked myself Do I look like everyone’s mother? But even (especially) grandmas call me Mamy. It’s a term of endearment and love. The more pronounced the “a” (Maaaaaaamy), the more love is conveyed!
Another one: Everyone and Anyone will call me Metuka. I have never felt so sweet in my life. Another form of endearment. My next favorite is “Haimsheli”. That does not mean “My Life” it means My love. You hear it everywhere. The guy who sells me oversized pomelos calls me that as well as the hairdresser down the block. I am loving being everyone’s love.
Regarding Pomelos I happen to have a pomelo tree in my yard but city-girl that I am I didn’t pick them until recently. (I was still buying them at Haimsheli guy). I’ve been holding off on picking the fruit because when you’re in Israel there are mitsvot that one should do when picking the fruit and I was not familiar with those so I waited until I learn the laws to pick them. This is another great thing about being here, even an act as earthy as picking fruit could be elevated spiritually fairly easily. You need to know how though. And what does one do when one doesn’t really know the answer? The equivalent to googling something in Israel, is asking on a WhatsApp group. So I asked in my WhatsApp group no. 316 and within a minute, someone who had learned about it recently gave me the answer, told me the amount to put aside, what to recite and even sent me a picture of the siddur open to the correct page.
On WhatsApps: There is a group for everything. In fact, keeping up with the groups is a full time job in itself. People create groups just to ask a quick question to two people and will even name the group. Homework is sent in WhatsApp groups and formal communication is sent via WhatsApp. I get WhatsApp reminders from my kids’ teachers, orthodontist etc. Emails are on their way to being absolutely obsolete. The issue becomes when there is no consistency in when and what is used. Case in point. We usually get notifications both by email and WhatsApp from my son’s middle-school. We even signed up for Parent Teacher Conferences on WhatsApp. But then they decided to postpone the PTC to a later date and apparently only sent an email but at that point I was only reading the WhatApps from this school. Guess who showed up for PTC to an empty school that evening?
Sometimes I feel that in Israel your identity is reduced to a number. At the doctor, take a number, at the pharmacy, take a number. At the bank, take a number. I found it mildly irritating at first as well as extremely bureaucratic but I came to appreciate the idea behind it. No one wants to hear on the loudspeaker: “Valerie Susskind Roshwalb the medicine for (insert whichever here) is ready”. You just need to remember that for the next 10 minutes (or likely hour) you are number 908. The funny thing is that at the butchers people talk in numbers too as beef cuts are referred to by a number. If you want some brisket you ask for a kilo of 3. And for entrecote/ribeye it’s no. 1. By the way the ribeye here in Israel really is number 1.
My vocabulary has improved of course and there are words that I like and sometimes I think I say them just to hear them. Some words just make me feel like a native so I say them a lot, probably more than necessary. Sababa, BeheHlet, are just a couple. Sometimes I say it even when I didn’t understand the question. But I figure it’s OK as long as the question included “Maaaaaaaamy”.
Lice: Even if lice is something that you never thought you would come remotely close to, if you have little kids in school here, they will get lice. It’s a fact. When it happened here I went on an all time war against those little creatures and I showed them who was boss. And then I went on WhatsApp group number 222 (that’s the one for kita beit parents in my son’s school) and I asked if there was a rule that kids be checked in order to avoid constant recurrence. I got laughed at. Nope, no lice check. So basically any lice-related idea around here is a great idea for a business (you itchy yet?)
This country is the ultimate Democracy. If Democracy consists of choosing a leader through free and fair elections and the active participation of the people, then there’s no Democracy like Israel. I have had the pleasure of voting twice in under half a year and plan to do it again soon. And I will wear blue and white. Again.
Can’t believe it’s already been a year. A year of ups and downs, of excitement and frustrations, of new challenges and opportunities. I do miss many things about New York but enjoy being near old friends and new, near sites that we could just visit spontaneously after learning about a specific place in say, Bereisheet, and I just love being here in Israel.
Because hey, it’s Sababa.
(This post was originally written and posted by Valerie on her Facebook page)