We finally did it. We decided to move to Israel, or as Israelis say, make aliya (which in Hebrew means to go up).
As I don’t speak Hebrew well, there wasn’t that much of a question as to where we would live. Jerusalem has by far both the largest collection of Anglos (people from English speaking countries) and the greatest amount of activities for Anglos. In Jerusalem it’s easy to find lectures in English, live theater in English (although most productions are like community theater) and English speakers in stores and in the streets. Other cities like Efrat, Bet Shemesh and Raanana also have lots of Anglos, but far fewer activities for them.
Of course, I’m planning to go to an Ulpan, but I’m not real gifted language wise. At the end of two years of French in my junior and senior year of High School, our French teacher announced that he was foregoing awarding the French prize usually given to the most deserving senior in French class, since none of us deserved it. After an additional year of French in college, I finally got to Paris where I was barely able to stammer Bonjour in French, much less say anything meaningful. As for my Hebrew speaking ability, no one would believe I took four years of Hebrew in college and actually attended classes.
But I digress. Before making this momentous decision, even though we had been to Israel many times, we decided to make a six week pilot trip to Israel. The trip did not begin auspiciously, as our flight was delayed for four hours, despite the airline’s repeated assurances that the flight was leaving on time. So trusting souls that we are, we believed them and did not eat prior to arriving at the airport. By the time we realized how late the plane was actually leaving, we were starving. As we are kosher, the pickings at the airport were few. After downing a bag of pretzels, we were still good and hungry and actually looking forward to our airline meal.
Our plane finally arrived after a six hour flight from another city. Since it arrived so late, the airline must have decided that, in the interest of improving their on time record, no interior cleanup was necessary. So the plane was not spic and span and the bathrooms smelled like urine depositories. When the food finally arrived, its taste matched the cleanliness of the bathrooms- it was probably the worst tasting dinner I’ve ever had on an airline. Breakfast the following morning matched the supper.
Extremely glad to exit the plane we made our way to the rental car office where we received a high mileage car which we had to pay using a credit car which charges foreign transaction fees. We had intended to use a card which does not charge fees, but on the way to the airport, we learned that someone had been using our card to book multiple trips to Kenya. So, of course, that card was cancelled. Luckily for us, we had taken another credit card with us.
We had rented a two bedroom, two bathroom, apartment in a neighborhood called San Simon. The apartment was fine, but we had been led to believe the apartment was high end. It was not, but it was comfortable. The heat worked well and the windows faced San Simon Park, a nice park containing the San Simon Monastery, which I’m not sure is still used. The supermarket was fairly close by and as most chain supermarkets in Israel also sell Kosher meat, we were all set.
Our aim this trip was to meet as many Anglos as possible and to discuss with them what their Aliya experience was like and to garner any suggestions they might have for making the transition easier. We decided that the place to meet other Anglos was in the synagogue on Friday night and Saturday. So we got addresses from the woman who rented us the apartment and anxiously awaited Friday night to begin our quest.
In the interim, my husband began a job search.
Friday night finally arrived (we moved in on a Sunday after spending a few days with my daughter and her family). Off we went to one of the synagogues, and lo and behold, after services, no one said anything to us.
Determined to do better, the next day we went to another synagogue. This time I surveyed the congregants and took a seat near a woman I thought looked Anglo. Of course, she left before the services were over. At the conclusion of services there was a kiddush, which is a collation with snack food. We noticed an Anglo we had met on one of our previous trips and approached him hoping he would remember us. No such luck. He had no recollection of ever meeting us, but was friendly. And that was the end of the Anglos we met there.
To be continued in the next post.