The Difference of an Hour

Earlier today, I biked down to Yaffo to get some fresh air and watch the waves. As I rode down the walkway and felt the calm of the ocean, a young Arab boy on his bike passed me by. And as he did, he said “shalom!” I gave him a huge smile, recognizing that this boy was greeting everyone he passed with a shalom.

And for the last hour I’ve been thinking about that boy. How he was extending friendly gestures in what I assume is his second language. How we were on route to a city that exemplifies cohabitation between Arabs and Israelis, between Jews, Christians and Muslims. And it gave me hope that this little boy noticed that he needed to switch languages – but not switch gestures. That to him, it was simply a difference of language and that’s all.

Yet now, here I sit, reading news reports of shots being fired in multiple locations in Tel Aviv, 9 wounded, 1 of which are in critical condition. Details are emerging constantly and it’s hard to know exactly what happened. But it’s scary.

The difference of that hour is huge. I went from looking at that boy as a symbol for the peace that we all strive for to feeling desperate to change the situation that we are all in.

For the sake of the boy, for the sake of you, me, something has to give.

Hello, Goodbye

I’m a few weeks late on this post, but mazal tov to me! I just celebrated my 3rd aliyaversary! It’s gone by so fast and I feel as though I just got off my flight yet simultaneously feel that I’ve been here, in my home, for decades. After living in this tiny, miraculous country for so long (almost 4 years in total), I have gone through so much and I don’t even have words to express the gratitude that I have for every single one of these experiences.

I could list a thousand things that I love about this country and still have thousands more to add. I have grown in a way that never seemed possible to me – ways that wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t gotten on that flight 3 years ago. Sure there have been tough times, and I had a lot of bumps in the road. But looking back on it all I see is a golden pathway that lead me to where I am today.

4 years is a long time. My relationship with Israel is my longest standing relationship… and this country has turned out to be the love of my life.

So, in a total turn of events I am at a crossroads where this relationship is coming to an end. And as I sit on my balcony writing this I am in fact bawling my eyes out. Because I have come to understand that love for a place isn’t enough.

So with a heavy heart I have decided that I am returning to the U.S. in July to study for my Master’s degree. And though I’m too desperately sad to see anything beyond my tears right now, I know that the time has come for me to invest in myself, in my future and in my happiness.

It’s a horrible realization to see that love just isn’t enough, as much as you’d expect and hope for love to be enough. And honestly, it just makes me feel like giving up and crawling into bed only to wake up to a time where it is enough.

I will miss more things that I can even bear to think about at this moment, and I can’t even put into words how desperately sad I will be to say “להתראות” to my friends. They have become my family, my support system, my cheerleaders, my brunch buddies and so so much more.

I’m sure that my new adventure will be just as magical as this one has been, in an entirely different way. But I doubt that my next home will be a love of my life the way that Tel Aviv has been.  So as יום העצמאות approaches, I will celebrate the birthday of my love on this very same balcony on which now I sit crying at the thought of bidding it goodbye. And I will enjoy every last second of it. I will follow this golden pathway till I come across my next pathway. And I can only hope that I’ll be able to find my way back to the golden pathway should that pathway be any less golden.

 

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Let’s Play a Game

Israelis are very expressive people. Whatever they do, it is done with immense passion and a whole lot of hand gestures.

For the last few years, I’ve started playing a game: I people watch and guess if they are arguing or merely having a conversation. Now this probably sounds ridiculous cause any idiot can spot the difference between the two, but you’d be surprised.

I’ve seen conversations about the weather with hand gesticulations as if we were entering WWIII.

I have witnessed a woman ask the bus driver what the cost of a ticket is and the conversation somehow ends up in 3 old ladies arguing about why she’s still single.

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Non-verbal communication is equally, if not more important, than verbal communication. When it comes to a country where nothing is off limits and most things are verbally expressed (for better or for worse), the non-verbal communication follows suit. A conversation can be riddled with wide, open armed gestures followed by a playful slap on the arm followed by a “yo” wrist shake followed by a noogie followed by a kiss on the cheek and then a shake of the hands. Maybe even throw in a hug and an “I don’t believe you” wrist flop for good measure.

So next time you’re waiting for the bus or looking to kill some time, I suggest trying this game for yourself. And no cheating – you can’t be within hearing distance!

rega

 

You call it scary, I call it home

Yeah, yeah – I know. The Middle East is fucked up. And I live smack dab in the middle of it. I get it, I live a tumultuous country, especially now that there is currently a flood of news reports about the “Israeli Palestinian Conflict.”

I’m not gonna go on a political rant here (ok, maybe I will but I’ll keep it short) but what the fuck. Imagine that you’re on your way to work, minding your own business when suddenly you are faced with an attacker holding a knife. Your punishment is death – the crime? being Israeli. Obviously once an attacker is caught, he is shot (whether to be absolutely sure that he is neutralized or because of an eye-for-an-eye mentality I can’t say). Then the international news goes on to report that you, the victim were the cause for incitement and that the attacker was some bystander who was shot and killed. Not only is that false  reporting (looking at you, CNN) but it’s completely infuriating to see. Whatever, that’s besides the point. I’d also like to mention that I stay aware of my surroundings and have never once felt anything but safe.

On that note, I’d like to point out that life goes on. My cousin this morning told me that the news alerts of attacks are less shocking to her each time they happen – that you have no choice but to get “used to it” as much as you can.

I expected that moving here would be complicated. I never expected that moving here would mean that I would be put in situations where I am asked to give up my sanity, my livelihood and my sense of security. That is simply not an option. When you love something, whether it be a place, a person or whatever, you recognize the flaws. You accept them. Then you move forward.

Which brings me to my main point of this post: that throughout all of this stress, all of the turmoil, I had that feeling a few nights ago. That feeling you get when you suddenly realize that you have reached most of your goals and that you’re pretty damn proud of yourself.

Walking home from my second week at a new job, I realized that wow, I’ve really accomplished a lot. I moved to a new country. I learned a new language. I experienced real love with an amazing guy. I made great friends. I found a job, twice. I found an apartment, also twice. I found out who I am.

The past two and a half years have taught me not just how to get my shit together, but how to manage it too. And I never would have had the chance to experience these perfect things if not for me being in this turbulent and messy country that I love so very much.

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I fired myself

Hebrew is a really smart language. It was re-invented after having died out which is hella impressive if you ask me (and I know you did). It follows seven different verb patterns, all with their own purpose and grammar rules. Some are passive, some are active, and some are reflexive.

The reflexive pattern is my favorite: It is simplistic, it makes sense but it also sounds ridiculous when translated directly to English. For example, in English you say “I got dressed” but in Hebrew it’s התלבשתי, or literally: “I dressed myself.” Imagine a grown man saying “I dressed myself in jeans this morning.” Hilarious! (Although it’s good to know that he’s not still depending on his mom for that). Also, take the word התקלחתי – means “I took a shower” but literally means “I showered myself.”

One word that has been pretty hilarious to me lately is the word התפטרתי, meaning “I fired myself”. A realistic translation would write it as “I quit” or “I resigned” but I love the idea of telling people that you fired yourself. I’ve been focusing on this word a lot lately because I quit my job a few weeks ago. That’s right. I fired myself…now if only I could offer myself severance pay – that would be bomb.

As much as I love my company and co-workers (/friends!), it is time to move on. Being the planner that I am, it was very unlike me to “fire myself” without having a solid plan of action for the next step. But yalla I live in the start up nation! I’ll land on my feet – and I’ll enjoy the fall in the meantime.

Ashkenazi curses and cures

Being an Ashkenazi Jew pretty much guarantees that I have lost the genetic lottery. Heart Disease? Sure. Diabetes? Yes. Anxiety? Obviously. Cancer? Unfortunately so. High blood pressure? You bet. Pretty much everything runs in my family (sorry to my future kids) which is really great when you throw in some gastro issues as a bonus.

For some reason, it seems that a large percentage of other white people (of Eastern European origin) in this country seem to experience some form of stomach issue. Ranging from gluten intolerance to lactose intolerance to IBS to general sensitivity, it’s amazing that we allow ourselves to be fed so much at a Shabbat dinner. I don’t know happened, genetically, all those generations ago that got us to this point but here we are – living with daily stomach disruptions.

When I first moved to Israel, even before I made aliyah, I remember dealing with these issues. At first I was told “you’re just adjusting to Israel,” then I was told “you’re just stressed out because you made aliyah,” then I was told “you’re anxious because you moved to Tel Aviv,” then I was told “you may have a gluten intolerance. Oh, wait, maybe not” and then I stopped listening to people.

Unfortunately, a non-diagnosis is the best it’s gonna get and as much as I like my doctor, she is always booked up months in advance. So. In between harassing her secretary into getting me an earlier appointment and complaining to my mom, I do what any self-respecting Ashkenazi would do: make some Jewish penicillin. The cure-all, matzah ball soup is truly a miracle. Granted, as a vegetarian, I don’t make it with chicken bones which really do enhance the flavor, but those little dumplings of deliciousness find a way to “warm the cockles of my heart,” as my grandpa used to say. And while I’m at it, let the record state that my mom makes the best matzah ball soup. Yes, even better than your mom makes it – deal with it.

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