Monday, November 25, 2013

Another "I Cant Believe I Actually LIVE Here" blog

So you've had fair warning.  If you're tired of hearing me drone on about loving living in Israel, just politely go to another website, I won't even know. [Heh heh, you THINK I won't know...]

So a couple of things happened in the last week or so.

1. Trip to the Galil:
We went to the Galil with an organization called English Speaking Residents Association (ESRA) which runs great travel programs throughout the year.  The trip took us WAY up north (as far as Metullah) and the highlight was visiting the Hula Valley Nature Reserve and watching the migration of the birds on their way from Northern Europe to Africa for the winter.

Are you laughing yet?  The thought of nature-hating me going to watch birds?  For those of you who don't know me well, just know that the very thought of camping makes me ill, I hate bugs, am afraid of basically every animal, and would MUCH rather sit inside and play a game on my computer than take a hike somewhere.

However, I had gotten interested in bird migration when we saw the movie "Winged Migration" years ago - I mean it is scary how organized these birds are.  And how hard working.  Makes us all seem kinda lame and stupid.

Anyway, the bird thing was super cool.  And what is really amazing is that the Hula Valley is exactly the midpoint for the birds, and they have always stopped over there on their trip south, and just watching literally tens of thousands of them hanging out, knowing they'd be there for a day or so and move on, was super duper awesome and cool.

2. Concert in Jerusalem
Nope, not chazzanut.  Not Israeli music.  

Sixties music.

That's right.  There is a great Israeli group that plays Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. music and they do at least one concert a year. They were amazing. 

We drove into the city with friends and happened to drive by the walls of the Old City.  The thought that the center of our religious history from thousands and thousands of years ago is less than 1/2 hour from my home, always gets me.  I live here!  I really do!

3. Chanukah
So I live in Modiin.  MODIIN, people!  Where the Chashmonaim lived, worked and played...and also fought, and died, and got buried.  Nuff said.

Also - we have been to the "Hasmonean" gravesite, but people say it's not really their gravesite.  Just sayin.  

4. Normal day to day stuff is cool
So during this week, we needed our water filter replaced, our dud (hot water heater) went bust, and we needed our carpenter to come and repair something.  Each of the worker guys had a kippah on.  And I happened to look outside when the sanitation truck was coming by - the three guys coming off the truck had kippot, one had tzitzit flying.

I'm not saying this because it matters so much to me that they wore kippot or not, but knowing that so many people around us, everyone doing all kinds of work, keeping the country going, are Jews, is super duper cool. 

Ben-Gurion once said that it will REALLY be a Jewish state when even the garbage collectors are Jewish.  

So those of you who went to another site, nyah nyah nyah you missed a good blog.    The others - congratulations on your good taste and excellent decision making.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Car Wars, Episode V: It Ends at the Pharmacy

So, six weeks after the accident, the car saga has come to a close.

Today we went to the dealership - remember, now, that this is after we had done the following in the six weeks since the accident:

1. Dealt with the police investigation (oh, we haven't heard the end of that, by the way, so stay tuned)
2. Waited for the insurance company to declare the car totaled.
3. Visited the Tax Office to deal with the glitch in our paperwork.
4. Picked out a new (well, new but used) car
5. Waited for the insurance company to tell us how much they were giving us for the totaled car.
6. Convinced the dealership to hold the car for us for a month, until we got the money.
7. Waited for the insurance company to tell us how much they were giving us for the totaled car.
8. Waited for the insurance company to tell us how much they were giving us for the totaled car.
9. Found out how much the insurance company was giving us.
10. Found out that there was some holdup with the money, and now they were not sure how much they were giving us.
11. Waited for the insurance company to tell us how much they were giving us for the totaled car.
12. Found out how much the insurance company was giving us - again.
13. Waited for the insurance company to actually give us the money.
14. Talked to the (ahem - NEW) car insurance company about insuring our new car.
15. Giving them every personal document we own so that the insurance could be figured out.
16. Waiting for the insurance company to fax us the insurance documents.
17. Going (today) to the dealership.

No, there is no way you are getting how frustrated and fed up we were.  So, our car salesman had told us that all we had to do was come today with our documents and "zehu!"  (that's it!).

We get there.

"So," our guy says, "did you go to the post office already?"
[Utterly stunned silence]
"Yes, you have to go to the post office to transfer the title of the car."
"No one told us that."
"Oh, but you have to do it."

Then our car salesman (wonderful guy, by the way), said he'd take us to the post office. Not sure if he said this because he realized he had made a mistake in not telling us to do it beforehand and felt embarrassed or if he was sincerely just being a good guy and wanted a chance to get out of the office and smoke a few cigarettes.

We went to the post office.  We were No. 92 in line.  They were on No. 80.  A young couple was at the only window which handled transactions like ours.  They were doing something which was extremely complex.  It involved piles of little pieces of paper, teudot zehut, passports, money, their firstborn, and probably all of their jewelry.  It took them 40 minutes.

Anyway, our guy handled everything and handed us the registration form.  It was not in our name, it was in the name of the previous owner.  "Oh, no problem," our guy said, "you just have to go to the government office and get a new registration with your name on it."

I don't think there is a word for our faces at that point.  That's just about when we did the official "throw the hands in the air and give up" gesture.  Then, I remembered something, "Wait - is this something we can do at those new machines they have in the pharmacy?"  "Yes!" says our guy.

So from the car dealership to the post office to the car dealership (to actually get the car) and then to the pharmacy.

All in a day's work for us Israelis.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Car Update, Aliyah Love

First, the car.  The insurance company finally deposited the money into our bank account!  Today we go to the bank to transfer the money (bye bye lotsa shekel, it was nice seeing you for your brief visit, please come again) to the car dealer, finalize the car insurance, and.....maybe even get our car.

I say "maybe even" because I have learned never to expect anything to work well.  I'm pretty sure we'll be driving away from the lot and the salesman will be running after us with three Mossad agents firing Uzis, screaming, "You forgot to sign the form!" and waving some random government document in the air.  I have very low expectations these days.

In other news, we met with friends who came to Israel for a visit.  I don't know if they will ever make aliyah, but they sure want to.  Now, most of the time when we meet with friends who have not made aliyah we follow our hard and fast rule, learned the hard way - don't talk about the wonders of living in Israel.  Why? Because lovely as our friends and family are, and caring as they are, those of us who have made aliyah know one thing - you only "get" aliyah once you do it.  Trying to explain it is frustrating for both us and them.

You just can't imagine it beforehand, although we wish we could explain it to them.  I know this sounds like what some out there call aliyah snobbery - I prefer to think of it as "aliyah love."

I don't like the phrase "aliyah snobbery" which I hear people use, because it implies that I think I'm better than someone else.  I certainly don't, God forbid.  I just have this very deep, powerful desire for my fellow Jews out there to come here and feel this utter joy - is that snobbery or love?   I know that people don't like hearing that life could be better somewhere else - but when it comes to making aliyah I'm willing to make that statement.These friends get that and were happy to listen to us go on and on about what becoming an Israeli does to you.

Here's the thing about aliyah love. I kind of want people to understand that no matter what they imagine it will be like - it will be ten million times better.  It will be better in ways they cannot possibly imagine.  They will feel at home for the first time in their lives, they will realize what it means to be part of something so miraculous that hits you in the gut every single day. They will feel "authentic" because this is the land God gave us to live in and we are living in it, as He told us to do.  They will see their children/grandchildren growing up as part of our homeland, contributing to it every single day.

They will know what it means to know they are part of the future of the Jewish people in the most important way possible.  Because, in the end, we can only really be ourselves in our own home. They will live in a culture where non-religious people quote the Chumash and don't even quite get the fact that, as irreligious as they are, they are thousands of times more spiritual and grounded in Judaism than their cohorts outside of Israel.

I am re-reading this and it isn't even doing my feelings justice.

Sitting with our friends and knowing that they felt our joy was very rewarding and made us realize even more deeply how right our lives feel right now.  Knowing they were leaving back to the States and we could stay - I felt badly for them, and they felt badly too.  Leaving Israel is physically painful for many of us.

So I'm here to share the aliyah love, baby.