Yom Chamishi, 13 Cheshvan 5768/24 October 2007.
I want to talk about the things I really like about Israel. Everything I say has been said before, by other olim dizzy with first love. But it's my blog; so I don't have any problem listening to me say it again.
Milk in bags is cool. Learning to use it without spilling it all over the place is even cooler.
I like doing "sponga." (For the uninitiated, sponga is the art of pouring a bucket of water on the floor, swishing it around with a cloth on a big squeegie attached to a stick, and then pushing the water down into little holes in the floor, or out the door. This may sound easy; but it takes practice. I have watched serious pros of 15 who have humbled me, and then taught me.) I hope I never see another vacuum cleaner again in my life.
I think I have mentioned how nice it is to see lovely young women saying Tehillim on buses. The same buses on which beautiful young men and women in uniform make me feel safer, if only for the large cache of automatic weapons they account for.
Every day, I take challah at the local pizza shop. I don't remember any establishment in Baltimore making me such an offer, though I am sure some nice lady got the job. But it feels really special here.
They make Israeli wine here. So I can buy really nice Israeli wine, for the price I used to pay for Chilean wine. Not bad.
The shwarma is made with turkey, or chicken, or beef, or lamb. I like lamb. Not to be eaten together, of course -- the plain yogurt has a kick like you wouldn't believe!
Shemittah is exciting, even though everyone disagrees about how to keep the laws. Fruit and vegetables have kedusha! Only flowers that have no scent are given on Shabbat, just to keep folks from messing up.
A shopkeeper I don't know expresses a very strong feeling about dealing with Arabs, and then "apologizes" by saying that his remark was racist. In the States, we are far too refined to speak so openly, even though we have more freedom of speech than Israelis do. That really got on my nerves.
Kohanim duchen at every Shachrit and Musaf.
Every business person we deal with welcomes us to Israel warmly, and wishes us a successful aliyah.
People who don't appear to be religious say things like "Baruch Hashem" and "Am segula."
The grocer tells me to just bring the money I am short tomorrow, and wishes me an erev tov, with a big smile.
The bus system is user-friendly. And some of the bus drivers are really warm, wonderful people. Like the guy who, smiling, took every single passenger as close to his door as possible on erev Shabbat, because it should be easy to shlep all those Shabbat groceries home.
The guy who is building our beds with his own hands buys his mattresses from a particular kibbutz for three reasons: the kibbutz is near the Qassam missile strike zone, and he thinks they can use the parnassa; the shop is 100% Jewish owned and operated; the mattresses are really good.
The mikva lady laughs and nods when I grab the bright orange towel. (She appreciates the political humor in a way that maybe you get best when you live here.)
Bnei Akiva really matters.
There are recycling cages or bins or machines all over the place. Kids can make money recycling glass bottles, like we could when we were kids.
It is beautiful here, in ways that only Home can be.