Why I made aliyah: My new answer.

It’s been a long couple of weeks. I haven’t had much to say and haven’t been wanting to think about the news. I’m currently a bachelorette living in this big apartment since my roommate went to Australia for two weeks. I’ve got a lot of school work to do and a lot of work work to do.

Not complaining; I’m enjoying my situation right now. When I hear about friends trying to cut it in America, paying that god-awful rent and keeping up with terribly high standards of living… I really do appreciate what I have built here. Could I have been this successful if I had lived in New York? I really don’t know. There’s so much about me that is calmer and more focused here.

I think I’ve come to the point where I realize I’m now here more for the conditions of my life than the ideological reasons from 2005. My lifestyle, my job, my school, my friends, my inter(national)marriage all keep me here more than a philosophical desire or religious dream. I do still believe in it, but I think I have a lot of new things I believe in now, too.

Which is why I always find it funny how people who have been living here for around 3 years seem to have a ‘new answer’ to why they made aliyah. Ask an oleh (not chadash) point-blank, and they will pause, possibly squirm, sigh, and tell you, “Well, the new answer is…”

I’m very grateful at how things have turned out for me; I know it’s usually the opposite for a lot of people. My key is to take it all one day at a time, or at the very least, not think more than six months ahead. That way, when you ask me why I made aliyah, I can continuously look back, reflect and be prepared to tell you what my ‘new answer’ is.

In appreciation of honesty.

I went for an interview today for an internship possibility for my conflict management course. Details about the interview and the internship itself aside… I walked away from the experience with a totally separate outlook.

After we established that I could give the internship a shot – it’s an intense task, in short organizing mediators and vaad bayit type bodies for buildings with mainly Ethiopian immigrants – my interviewer wondered aloud if my Hebrew would be a problem.

She explained that because they are Ethiopian immigrants, the non-Israeli Hebrew along with the non-Israeli accent might make it more difficult for them than it has to be. She also considered the culture clash of what type of immigrant I am.

Instead of feeling insulted, I felt relieved. I feel like no one ever acknowledges the fact that, yes, I can speak, but yes, I have an accent and my grammar is not nearly perfect. I’m either told my Hebrew is amazing and I shouldn’t worry or I have to endure the person switching to broken English, thinking it would help me. Both frustrate me because I know I can speak, and I can communicate; I can tell a story… but I’m also realistic about knowing it’s not perfect.

The acknowledgment took pressure off me; I think it was pressure I never knew I actually had. I appreciated the honesty and I’m looking forward to trying the internship or moving on to get to the point where I need to be.

Head (and everything else) in the clouds.

They are predicting the most intense snow storm in decades for next week. Meanwhile, I’m up to here in clouds. They are everywhere, especially in my eyes.

I know I’ve already written about the fog… But I just can’t get over how normal it seems around here.

Here’s a morning commute from this past week:

Fog on the hills of the Gush
More fog, more hills
Fog towards the barrier
Morning fog in Jerusalem hills

I didn’t bother including the photos that came out completely white… But you can imagine that, I’m sure. Just put a cotton ball up to your eye.

My new wheels – or – Dream cars are relative.

Ford FocusIn the past month I’ve driven half a dozen different cars. It started with the Ford Focus, which I’m borrowing from a friend who has been abroad for a while. The goal there was to get through the move and then get back and forth from the new home. I thought I’d see what leasing was like, too.

Then, this week, came the task of picking the right car to lease after she returns and I give the Focus back. Mazda

At some point during the Focus time, I had a Mazda 6 for a week, which was awesome; I fell in love with the car back in 2004, thanks to a college boyfriend who turned me on to the Mazda marketing hype. It also runs like a fun toy trapped in the body of an older, more mature toy who has a wild streak at the same time. Maybe a crazy haircut or cool glasses. Hyundai Getz

The plan all along was to get a Hyundai Getz – a mini car, yes, but the best in its class and a very popular model for leasers here in Israel. It’s a tiny car but great for city driving and packs a punch for its size.

That being said, after test-driving one, I started freaking out a bit. I chalk it up to the American in me screaming at the top of its lungs… As well as my American mom, who didn’t quite scream, but was definitely not happy with the idea of me driving such a tiny thing on the curvy highways in the hills. And, yes, a part of me will admit that I couldn’t bare the thought of being found dead in a Hyundai Getz if that ever became the case.

After a night of good, hard introspection (and reconnecting with my American self) I decided to honor my college boyfriend and the Mazda marketing skills, and go for the car I’ve dreamed about since my first ride in the brand: an electric blue Mazda 3.

Mazda 3 Aurora blue

[DISCLAIMER: You’re thinking, “wtf, that’s your dream car?” Yeah, well, I was a Saturn driver in the old country – and by Saturn, I mean this – and my ‘dream car’ before the Mazda was a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder… so…]

Mitsubishi LancerSo while I wait for my new toy mode of transport to arrive in another couple weeks, I’m driving a silver Mitsubishi Lancer, which reminds me of a Japanese teenager in the 80s. I also kind of feel like any minute KITT will start talking back to me. That would be awesome.

Those foggy nights…

The weather went back to bla over the last day, and on the way home tonight a fog descended over the Jerusalem hills like I haven’t seen since my days in upstate New York. If you’ve ever lived there, you know the what I mean: You can’t see past your own hood and your fog lights are reflecting back from a meter in front of you. You are actually blinded. It’s just you and the car.

Anyway, after we arrived home we went to the mirpeset upstairs to deal with the laundry and lo and behold: We can’t see off the edge of our mirpeset… We had to lean over to view a fraction of the roofs and lights below us. I mean, ridiculously opaque fog right before our eyes.

Never lived in upstate New York or the Jerusalem hills? Check out these before and after pictures from the edge of my porch:

No fog...

Normal night sky…

Crazy fog...
Crazy fog night sky…

And they say that living in Jerusalem you are ‘closer to shamayim’… I say, heaven is basically on earth.

Lizrael, princess of the rood.

My commute has become significantly more interesting. Not much longer, thankfully, but definitely more interesting.

It now involves driving through a few kilometers of the West Bank; I can hear some of you cursing me out while some of you are cheering me on. I’ll choose to ignore both reactions for now. I don’t think much about politics as I go through it; the goal is to get to work more than anything else.

Anyway, we pass a Palestinian sherut ‘depot’ on the way to the tunnels. Same concept as Israeli taxis, it’s just the license plates are green and the writing is in Arabic… for the most part.

What was funny today was that one of the sheruts was named… I mean, I come from the States where people name their cars, trucks and boats… Even their houses… But I liked the name of this one in particular:

Palestinian sherut

Yafa The Princess of the Rood

A man should love his mode of transportation, especially if it’s also his livelihood. I’m assuming that yafa means the same in Arabic as it does in Hebrew, which is beautiful (I’m told that yafa is actually not an Arabic word and that the driver probably meant it in Hebrew… which is kind of funnier).

My husband wondered what they’d say if he painted our car yellow and he wandered over with a pack of cigarettes and a box of donuts and started chatting with them.

I replied, it’s probably not time for that yet. It’s also not our car.