I love it here in Israel. I even love the things that annoy, frustrate, and infuriate me . Does that make sense? My kids don’t think so. One day they will understand. But until then, when they ask me what I love about life in Israel, I am ready with a list:
I love the way the sun shines a different color here and the way the streets smell like my grandmother’s kitchen every friday afternoon and jewish holiday. I love seeing Israeli flags everywhere–cars, balconies, bus stops, lampposts, and beaches.
I love the way everyone–secular or religious–says shabbat shalom on Fridays and Shavuah Tov on Sundays. I love that Israelis wear white on the high holidays and Shabbat. Leading up to Yom Kippur, the bike shop sells more bikes than the rest of the year combined. Because one would never be without a bike on Yom Kippur. Never.
I love the way everyone gives advice–whether you want it or not–and the way people who work at the local makolet call me “motek” (sweetie) like my 5th grade Hebrew teacher did back in the day. I love the (sometimes brutal) honesty in people here. I am a New Englander. We say it like it is; I fit in well here.
I love the way people open up their homes to each other–true hachnasat orchim as it was meant to be. Friends of friends of friends hear you are moving to their town and it is not awkward at all when they invite you and your family for dinner. Even though you have never met.
I love the way the electrician stayed and chatted for over an hour (did he bill us for that?!) and then proceeded to offer me the family and friends special price–because now we were friends. The guy who came to fix our internet stayed all day and had dinner with us.
I love how Olim/immigrants bond. Veterans want to make it a welcoming experience for the newcomers and other new Olim want to have someone who understands their emotions, struggles, and small victories.
I love the way families spend shabbat together. No playdates. No errands. Just family.
I love how school isn’t stressful here. Kids are happy and relaxed. The bell at my kids’ school plays gleeful notes from a song, rather than a disruptive tone.
People ask my daughters “What after school clubs are you doing?” instead of “How is school? Do you get good grades?” I love that even though there may be as many as 38 students in my daughters’ classes, my kids do not feel invisible (though I know they would like to be some days).
I love that Israelis are wearing boots, scarves and winter coats..in 78 degrees.
I love how Israelis all say “This too will pass.” About everything. Overpriced tomatoes. Terrorism. Rain.
In a country where life can be very stressful and overwhelming, there is a feeling of warmth everywhere you go. You are never alone, not even walking down the street. Everyone has each other’s backs.
Above all, I love how living in this country makes me feel. I enjoy all the contradicting emotions and the complex relationship I have with Israel. It exhausts me and invigorates me at the same time. It confuses me and calms me. It keeps me on my toes. I suppose this is why I am here.
As we continue our adventure here, I want my children to experience these feelings for themselves. I hope that each one of them processes and forms her own relationship with Israel and her people. Mostly, I hope my girls are able to come up with their own list of why they love it here.