This is who we are.

Part 1: 9:46 pm

Me: Lalalala bla bla bla.

Friend: Oh, happy anniversary.

Me: Oh, shit! It’s Tu B’Av!

Part 2: 9:50 pm

Me: Happy anniversary! I said it first!

Huz: Oh, yeah. It hasn’t been five years already, has it?

Me: It’s been four.

By the way:

We thought the extra bonus to getting married on Tu B’Av was so we would have a better chance of remembering. We thought wrong.

Still got it though.

This morning, my husband dropped me off in front of my office and right before I opened the door to the car, I give him a quick kiss as is the morning routine. After we do this, I usually automatically peek around to see if anyone walking outside happened to see; maybe its modesty or maybe its residual from my teenage years.

I reached into the back seat to grab  my bag and noticed another couple in a car behind us, a guy getting dropped off by his woman… Except instead of a quick morning kiss, they were full-on making out – hands on faces and everything. Nine in the morning. I could almost see the slobber dripping off their faces.  

“Quick, look back there – they’re full-on making out!”

“They really are.”

“I guess we’ve been married a while, huh.”

A little late, but a lizrael update.

Haven’t done this in a while, but here goes.

Aliyah

At this point, I’ve been living in Israel for three and a half years. Seems like so much longer… I can now count ‘old friends’ I had when I first came, I have a lengthy list of apartments I’ve lived/crashed in, I’ve been married for nearly two years and traveled internationally with an Israeli travel document six times.

The reasons I stay in Israel are different from the reasons I originally came. When I landed here, I was a single post-graduate with a lot of different directions and vast openness. Since then, I’ve worked at a steady job for three years, which has opened me up to a career path I never would have expected for myself, but warmly welcome. I’ve married a non-American/non-Israeliborn from across the world, so it will never be easy to pick up and leave Israel for us; it’s not a matter of moving to an obvious place.

Also, I’ve invested so much into living here, mentally, and I’ve lost touch with reality in the States. I’ve gotten used to a lifestyle here that I couldn’t have back there with ‘only’ this much effort.

It’s not that I’m thinking of leaving Israel, but I really don’t think about it because it’s now, simply,  where I live, where I get my paycheck from, where I’ve started building my house and home.

School

I’m on the very last leg of my toar sheni, my graduate degree. Yeah, remember that goal I set out for myself three years ago? Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University.

I’m currently engaged in a required ‘internship’ which actually takes place at my job. I’m working on creating a dispute resolution program for an online social Q&A community. I like that it has nothing to do with international relations or politics (although sometimes it feels that way).

I’ve come to realize that being friends with the intertubes is the way to go if you’re going to live comfortabley in Israel. That being said especially as I’ve been told by professors that no one makes a living here off only doing gishur (mediation). Online Dispute Resolution is a curious path I’m looking forward to exploring in the coming years.

Which leads me to my work…

Work

By some interesting twist, three years ago I ended up working in the marketing department of an internet company and I’m still there, job having evolved over the years, but a rainbow of experience gained.

The job that was supposed to be my financial parent through grad school became a career path – who knew? In fact, I’d argue I’ve learned way more at the job than the university, even if the two subjects are completely unrelated.

I tell people now that if you are open, have mother-tongue English and some internet savvy in your pocket, hi tech is the way to go here in Israel. You don’t have to start your own start up, either. There are plenty of jobs right now and the business is flourishing. And because it’s based in Israel, and you speak mother-tongue English, you are a step ahead in gaining a new career that you can really leverage. Just be open to learning some code.

Family

As I said above, we’ve been married for nearly two years now; we have a Tu B’Av anniversary coming up. Marriage is everything and nothing like I thought it would be, in the best possible ways. And I know why that is; it’s because of who I married and how much we’ve both been open and proactive about making this work.

Of course, we’re at two years and no kids, so who are we to talk? There are challenges that crop up now and then, mainly concerning the issue of us both being from two different countries located on opposite ends of the planet. What if we left? Where would we go? Whose family do we visit next?

It is also difficult for both of us to be far from our families; neither of us have immediate family here and we do catch each other’s bouts of homesickness once in a while.

But there’s also the topic of extending our own family, which I’ve realized I wouldn’t want to start anywhere else but Israel. It’s a different life than how I grew up, but I think with lots more positive elements.

Jewish news for womyn-folk.

Just found three headlines from the last couple days that I thought I’d share. Consider it a little taste of news in the womyn’s world.

Rabbi Metzger: Married women should give up maiden name

“Advice to women from the chief rabbi: Married women should give up their maiden name, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger told hundreds of women at a convention Monday dedicated to Jewish family values and religiosity. ‘We are currently in an era of permissiveness and there are many messages that create cracks in the Jewish home’s whole structure,’ the rabbi told the women in attendance.”

Pregnant, breastfeeding women must fast on Tisha B’Av

“The Halacha (Jewish law) holds no all-inclusive exemption for pregnant women or those breastfeeding. Each case must be assessed separately.

The rabbi explained that ‘the assumption that nowadays women are weaker than they were in the past is not necessary so, and the medical logic says that in light of the nutrition and medicine that we live with today, the situation is exactly the opposite.’

Thus, he disputes the lenient Halachic position stating that women in these situations must be exempt from fasting in all cases, a stance supported in the recent years by popular rabbis of the religious-Zionist persuasion.

This is the rule decided upon by the head of the Petach Tikva Hesder Yeshiva Rabbi Yuval Sherlow, right before Tisha B’Av.”

Fight for agunot isn’t over

“Jerusalem Family Court announces unprecedented ruling, orders man who refused to divorce his wife for nearly a decade to pay her $158,000 in damages. Rivkah Lubitch celebrates, but explains why the happy ending is still far off.”

Discuss.

In appreciation of צהר, or small windows.

I attended a secular wedding last night; if it wasn’t my first Israeli secular wedding, then I have only been to one or two before this. The secular Israeli wedding is something I don’t fully grasp.

A Jewish wedding is so chock full of beautiful, wacky and wild traditions, why not have that be a part of your experience? It just seems that aside from the chuppah part, the wedding is just a dance party. What’s that wedding video like? A night out in Tel Aviv?

Well, obviously, to each their own, and I’m only really talking about Israeli Jews who are already somewhat traditional enough to have a Jewish wedding at all. It’s just my opinion; I like a good solid Jewish wedding with character.

Anyway, because of the marriage laws in Israel, put forth by the religious authorities in the government, a Jew can only marry a Jew on Israeli soil and to be considered acceptable, the chuppah ceremony must follow the rules set out by Judaism according to the Rabbanut.

This structure does not go over well with the mainly secular/lightly traditional Jewish population of Israel. Fortunately, there are organizations that exist to try and ease the process – whether you decide to get married Jewishly or not.

If a couple does decide to marry the Jewish (“legal”) way, צהר (tzohar) is an absolutely wonderful organization dedicated to making the wedding ceremony process as smooth, understandable and comfortable as possible. Secular couples can have a צהר rabbi officiate the chuppah (since most people don’t have a rabbi they call their own). The (Orthodox) rabbi comes with experience, a nice voice, jokes to please the crowd, and above all, the acceptance of the Rabbanut.

“צהר” means opportunity, opening or “small window.” Tzohar’s tagline is “a window between worlds.” This makes me so incredibly happy: A constructive organization of religious rabbis who are bridging their worlds with the worlds of the secular population in order to give a positive outlook and helpful experience.

We didn’t get married through Tzohar necessarily, but our rabbi was a Tzohar rabbi. He had the gig down and so did the guy who officiated the chuppah last night. It was really awesome to watch the crowd sing along with the rav and laugh at his jokes about the Maccabi Tel Aviv game. It was awesome to watch the rav respect the taste of the couple, as the bride presented her chatan with a ring and the couple kissed after the breaking of the glass.

The organization does not seek to ‘kiruv’ couples actively. I think the best thing it does is to start a new couple off in the world of marriage with a bit of appreciation for Jewish marriage as well as a good aftertaste towards the religious process.