Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Back On Line


Yom Revi'i, 18 Kislev 5768/28 November 2007, Tuesday night.

I should be in bed now... but today was one of those breathlessly happy days you hate to let go of.

We are finally settled in Neve Daniel. There are stories to tell of getting the lift, and the arrival of appliances, and starting ulpan... but they will keep. Today was a day I want to trap in time.

I finally got my internet hookup to work, even the wireless connection. I really, really cleaned the house. I gave a non-English speaking delivery man directions to our house, to deliver "the lost package," which I have been tracking (through various non-English speakers) for several days. I know, I know... this is not the stuff of romance novels. This is day-to-day life. When things work, that haven't worked in weeks. Dovid called, after far too long, and shared beautiful pieces of the Goldberger/Levi wedding (not the Shlomo-Ahuva wedding, but the Esther-Elie wedding -- many of the same players, but different members of the same families in the starring roles). I got to listen to Rav Shlomo Aviner and Tzafrir Ronen on the radio. I attended a really lovely "women's evening," and met many fine ladies, among them a favorite author, a favorite actress, and a number of women of such substance as to let me know I will be kept busy for many years, just hearing incredible stories. One thing you can say about people who move to Israel: they do not have boring stories. Okay, old well-loved gang from Baltimore, don't get offended. Your lives are interesting, too. Just think of what sorts of odd-balls decide to make aliyah: this one left Poland at twenty, and moved to England, and then to Israel... where she has lived for some 30 years. You know that first move meant a lot to her mama, at so many levels. And that one spent a night in jail, for doing something we would not consider a crime. And another has lived here since she was a baby, and can't imagine living anywhere else, even though mum and dad brought her from England. The whole family lives in Neve Daniel. Her husband's family lives in Maine, and can't quite figure their son out. The evening was mostly in Hebrew, with English subtitles. The main speaker hoped that next year, we will have evolved to the point of needing no translator. (BS"D!!!)

And of course, the most important thing I did today: I got the name and phone number of the guy who organizes the basketball league in Efrat for the 13-year-olds. Needless to say, to Dani, I am "the man." HOO-rah!

The first thing I want to say is that I have had a remarkably happy day just living in Israel. The second thing I want to say is that you should not believe people who say "Don't worry about it. Everybody in Israel speaks English." I think what they mean is that if you remain ignorant of the Hebrew language, but have fabulous patience, someone will eventually come along who can translate -- more or less -- for you and your Israeli counterpart. You should not be lulled into a foolish laziness by thinking that every person/clerk/salesperson/official will be able to communicate with you in your native tongue. Ain't happenin', Cap'n. Take classes. Buy programs, such as Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, or the new one by Rabbi Gold. Read easy Hebrew newspapers, such as Bereshit. I am not yet even close to fluent; but I am very grateful for the Hebrew I have taken the time to learn, and so is my family. Take ulpan. Everyone with whom I have spoken who went to work, and THEN tried to work in ulpan, wishes they had done it the other way around. There are good Hebrew teachers in the States. Find them.

There are other nice things to say. Mostly, I am just very grateful that Hashem has decided that the Eastmans are permitted to live in this beautiful, holy place. I hope that it is in His plan that we should watch many grandchildren, from all of our fine sons, grow up in this remarkable Land.

I hope many more of our old friends and teachers will be able to share this life with us, very soon. We are such a fortunate people!

Sunday, November 4, 2007



Yom Rishon, 23 Cheshvan 5768/4 November 2007, Sunday.

Today is the shift from Ma'ale Adumim, where we have lived for 26 days, to Neve Daniel. I will miss the lovely people who made us feel welcome, most especially the characters who own and operate "Pizza Nevo." There is something special about three brothers who won't let you order pizza until they can teach you to order in Hebrew, who invite you to do the mitzvah of taking challah, and who praise your children for being so reliable at building pizza boxes. Theirs is not just a food-service business. Pizza Nevo is a home-away-from home for the Eastmans, and will continue as such for a long time after we are no longer dwelling in the neighborhood of Mitzpe Nevo.

I will miss watching the sun light up the glass windows of Yerushalayim as I face the city to daven each morning. The view from the mirpeset has been lovely, morning and night. It is a pleasure for me to see Avi taking time to sit on the balcony in the evenings, enjoying the breeze, and the knowledge that he is gazing at the holiest city in the world. His continuous ability to marvel at the gift of being here revives the awe I feel.


Aryeh and I had a great hour-long discussion last night. (There seem to be more of these than we had time for in Baltimore. May it continue to be so.) He was talking quite animatedly about how incorrect people were when they warned him about Israeli "attitude."

"These kids are nice, Ema. They don't think the same way, about having an attitude, like 'get out of my face,' to protect themselves. I started out with an attitude here, like 'wha,?' (he affects a perfect teenager 'tude, arms folded, shoulder hunched slightly forward, keep-your-distance grimace) -- but I dropped it, because I didn't need it." It's weird and helpful when your kids give you these insights into the drama of being a teenager. I don't remember putting on exactly the same mask; but I was not a city teen, and not a boy. And times have gotten tougher.


"It's getting pretty sporty down here, sir!"

This is Avi's favorite quote from We Were Soldiers. He is using it a lot lately, to describe to the boys what life will be like for the next few days in Neve Daniel. We will start out on Monday night with exactly four pieces of furniture in the apartment: very thin mattresses, borrowed from a friend. No chairs, no tables, no fridge, no stove... etc. Tuesday, the appliances are due to arrive (and some time after that, they are supposed to be hooked up). Our real mattresses are scheduled for Thursday (with the beds that belong under them scheduled for some time three weeks or so from now). And the shipment is expected to land at the port of Haifa on Friday. We have roughly 16 suitcases, and assorted recently-purchased living essentials, to move to Neve Daniel... and we don't own a car. And are not quite ready to drive in Israel, in any case.

We grin at each other, and shrug.

"It's gonna get a bit sporty, boys," Avi says to his sons. The light of contest fills Dani's eyes. Aryeh shrugs, decides "'tude" is more effort than it's worth. He answers: "'We will ride into battle, and this will be our horse.'" He and his father understand each other.