Fadichot leaking all over the place.

Every other week or so when I pick up Koala from his gan, his ganenet passes me the pants I dressed him in that day and I look down and see him wearing the poofy red replacement pants we keep there.

Always with the same explanation: “He leaked again so we changed him…”

I guess I figured his diaper wasn’t changed enough or he was getting water all over himself. At least, it always sounded that way.

Today, my husband went to pick him up and got the same story. Only, he actually understood what the ganenet had been trying to tell me for months:

His pants are too big and fall down his legs.

She said: “Nozel lo.” I heard: “He leaks.” But apparently, she was being poetic and saying that his pants are sliding down his legs because they’re too big.

And I kept sending him in them every week.

Why didn’t she ever tell me they were gadol midai???

Immigrant parenting fail: 2840635 Me: 0.

On living outside Israel.

It happens every time I visit the States: I spend about 35% of the time thinking about the reasons I could and couldn’t live there. By now, the couldn’ts far outweigh the coulds.

So it stands to reason that I’m going through the same process here in Melbourne. It’s different, of course, because it’s not my hometown, not my home country, and I’m very much a visitor. But there are so many striking similarities that I can’t ignore. And the conclusion remains the same.

It’s not even about the country itself, although my issue with the direction the United States is headed is definitely important here. It’s more about the state of Jewish community in diaspora.

I know now, more clearly than I ever knew, that the core reason I left New York was because I didn’t fit with the modern orthodox Jewish community there. It took a long time to get inside it, and when I did, I realized it wasn’t at all what made me feel comfortable with myself, my religious observance or my surroundings.

I thought the rest of the world would be different; I thought New York was unique for having the biggest, most intricate Jewish ghetto out there. But the more I travel and meet people from all over, the more I come to realize a Jewish ghetto is a Jewish ghetto for a reason. The characteristics that make it successful are carried through anywhere – New York, Montreal, Toronto, London, Manchester, Melbourne, Sydney. Sure, they all have their own uniqueness – an accent, a way of dress, an infusion of local cooking – but at the end of the day, Western Jews gathered in one place, trying to make it work in diaspora, all tastes the same to me.

Israel isn’t an obvious answer. Religious practice isn’t easy or perfect there. In fact, I try to avoid the same brand of modern orthodox/dati leumi that turns me off so much in chul. But I guess I prefer to be surrounded by Israel’s religious conflict and confusion over the over the top self assuredness of a New York Jewish community. In Israel, it’s a work in progress that constantly questions itself, and if for a moment it forgets – someone is there to remind the rest of us.

Oddly, I sense balance when I’m in Israel, internally. In New York, the scales always had to be tipped for me.

So, if I want a Jewish life for myself and my children… I don’t think I could leave Israel at this point. I wouldn’t know where to go.

Israeli life on paper.

I’m covered in dust as I write this from the depths of old documents, yellowed papers, stacks of ancient bills. Call it spring cleaning, call it nesting, call it what you will but I have managed to set aside three cartonim of dead trees to recycle. 

What’s super fun about doing something like this – in what is probably the first time since I’ve had a teudat zehut – is the fact that I get to find all the bits and pieces that mark my time in Israel as an olah. Cards from well wishers, that intro packet they give you from the Ministry of Absorption, the first apartment contract (ah, rechov Lamed Hey…). 

It’s all flashing before my eyes on old crinkly papers: my first Israeli bank account, my first Orange bills, subsequently my first Cellcom bills (what self-respecting Israeli would only have one phone contract?), my university application. Contracts from my first job here, updated contracts from my first job here. Bar Ilan schedules and Bar Ilan bills. Minhal Studentim letters and ishurs and then the faxes pleaing for more money from Minhal Studentim. 

Did I mention Bar Ilan notebooks and Bar Ilan finals schedules and Bar Ilan student ID cards and Bar Ilan assignments? 

My Israeli life on paper seems to have been fairly active so far. Getting here, opening accounts, applying for jobs and internships, signing housing and job contracts, organizing trips abroad and health insurance, working on a second degree, planning a wedding, proving my Judaism in order to get married, owning a dog, continuing to work on a second degree, getting pregnant. I’ve been jobless and homeless and directionless and I’ve been hard-working and studious and settled down. City life, suburbia. Single, married. Student, employee.

While there have been many chapters to my aliyah so far, I do feel like this is the beginning of a truly new and fresh chapter; perhaps this is a ‘Part II’. Everything before has been about me and my perspective, whether on my own or as part of a relationship, and from here on in, well, life in Israel – the good, the bad, the scary – will be shaped by the existence of a unit far greater in value than just me.

Next up: Israeli family life.