New Friendships in Israel

Facetime. iMessage. Google Hangouts. Skype. Email. There are so many ways to stay connected these days. I haven’t even mentioned Facebook and all the other social platforms. But for my kids, moving away from their friends was torture for them. I’m sure the neighbors were able to hear their guttural sobbing those last few days on the block.

The kids yelled at me — “Why are you doing this to us? Our best friends live in America! You’re the meanest Mommy.” Yes, that became my nickname for quite some time. I still hear it in my head. Painful.

And then I responded to them, matter-of-factly: “But you already have friends in Israel!” And they looked back at me like I was crazy and said simultaneously, “NO, WE DON’T!” And then I said something to them that stopped them in their tracks and had them thinking: “Yes you do! You just don’t know them yet!”

And it’s finally happened! Five months in and my kids really feel like they’ve made amazing friends. They come home from school telling me about this friend and that friend. They spend time on their iPods, Facetiming and iMessaging. This past Shabbat, they invited friends over for lunch — their new BFF friends. They spent hours just talking. And then, after Shabbat, the conversation continued on the phone. Apparently they have so much to talk about! And seriously! I can’t believe we went from “You’re the Meanest Mommy ever!” to “Mommy, I love my new friends!”

I looked at my kids on Saturday night and said, “Do you see? What would you have done if you didn’t move here and meet these friends?” And they said, “Okay, okay. It’s good that we moved to Israel!”

There is nothing more important to me than making sure my kids are adjusted and settled. And listening to the giggling and the hushed talking puts a huge smile on my face. Their biggest dilemma now is that since it’s a six-day school week, there is no night other than Shabbat for a sleepover. That should be their biggest problem.

And yes, of course, they still tell me that they miss friends from America. So do my husband and I. But we’ve been so blessed to move into an area with new neighbors who have already become instant friends. And we hope those friendships that we’re all developing will continue to grow.

It’s not easy moving away from comfort, from what’s familiar, from what you’ve known your whole life. But when the puzzle pieces start to fit together in your new home, that’s when life really feels good. Because it validates the decision that was made. The decision to move and start over somewhere new. So to all our new friends, you’ve always been our friends, we just hadn’t met you yet! And we’re looking forward to those friendships lasting a lifetime.

About the Author
Tova Knecht is a wife and mom of 3, living in Jerusalem, Israel. After living all their lives in New Jersey, she and her family made the ultimate decision to fulfill their dream of living in the Jewish homeland.
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