Saturday, November 6, 2010

Three-Year Mizrachi Report

Yom rishon, 30 Cheshvan 5771, Rosh Chodesh.

What has changed since we made aliyah, three years ago?  Here's a stream-of-consciousness slice of our lives.

I have a son who has fought in a war.  I have another son who is preparing to do the same.  I no longer think of this as bizarre -- though it has probably caused me to daven with more kavanah.

My husband has started the favorite career of his life as a guitar teacher.  He is "15 years younger."  So say his sons.

One of my sons is fulfilling my "dream aliyah":  At 20 -- a great age for absorbing a language -- he is immersing in a religious kibbutz ulpan program.

My youngest son, now quite as tall as his brothers, likes school for the first time in his life, and is being scouted for professional football.

I finally got to be the writer and photographer I wanted to be since I was ten years old.

Small things have changed, too.

I automatically drift to the left on a sidewalk or down a public hallway now.  I can spot the Americans, even before I read the Yankees symbol on their baseball hats, by their insistence on walking on the right.  (Don't for a minute think this is reliable.  We are a melting pot of the world's cultures.  Generally, we make an effort not to crash into each other.)

Everybody has taught his stomach to expect cholent by 10:30 or 11 on Shabbat.  In the morning.  We guess that they daven this fast because they have been reading and speaking this language since they were pitzilach.

I now speak three languages haltingly.  When I want to speak German, only Hebrew will come out.  When I want to speak Hebrew, it's as if my mind were an electronic Roll-O-Dex, carefully (whirrrrrrrr) choosing (whirrrrrrrr) one (whirrrrrrrr) word (whirrrrrrrr) at (whirrrrrrrr) a (whirrrrrrrr) time.....  While English is still easy for me to maintain, I often find that only a Hebrew word will come to mind.

Other changes:

At my house, we don't face East to pray.  (Facing East would mean, incidentally, that we would be bowing to Mecca.)  Since we are situated to the South of the Holy of Holies, we face North.

I no longer absentmindedly hum the Orioles' baseball theme, or a catchy jingle from one of the Baltimore radio stations.  I now find myself singing "Gal-gal-galgalatz" or "Kol Chai, Kol Chai, Kol Chai, Kol Chai..." as I leave the house for the bus.  (Galgalatz is the IDF radio station, and Kol Chai is a religious radio station.  Kinda depends on my mood...)

My kids prefer Osem Ketchup to Heinz.

I  now type "חחח" nearly as often as I type "LOL" in emails or Facebook comments.  (First person who says "GROW UP!" is gettin' a couple of  knuckle sendvitchim.)

Instead of little bags of Cheerios, I now see kids waiting for the school bus, eating halves of avocados and red peppers, or munching on pitot, or drinking chocolate milk from plastic bags.

I have undergone a cultural fascination shift.  I used to wonder what possessed urban black teenagers to introduce the fashion of displaying three inches of underpants above the waist of their pants.  (How does one participate successfully in gang warfare with one hand holding up one's jeans?)  Now I wonder what is meant by wearing a hijab along with pencil pants and three-inch spikes.  (What is the point, and how exactly does the imam feel about it?)

Gefilte fish, once a staple of our Shabbat meals, has been replaced by various brightly-colored salads (such as carrots with ginger and garlic; beet salad; or salads of olives and onions).  I was worried that my family would complain.  Then they informed me that gefilte fish -- as expensive here as chicken -- was never a favorite of theirs anyway.  Now we have it for Rosh Hashana, and it's special.

True -- I might see flowers and candy in a vending machine here; but I also see seforim.  And there might be indoor-outdoor thermometers hanging on a display in the hardware store; but there will also be mezuzot.

We have very Yid-centric headlines here. "Fur Import Bill Amended to Accommodate Shtreimels" is one that comes to mind.  Perhaps such headlines existed in the Goldene Medina as well; but they seem to stand out more here.
I don't recall in America ever being asked at a simcha to watch a friend's purse while she dances, because she doesn't want to leave her handgun unattended.

Standing at the butcher counter in a major supermarket, I had to explain to several customers and to the butcher that "OU" is a very reliable hechsher in America.  They weren't so sure... because they'd never heard of it.

Jewish holidays are on everyone's radar.  Can you say heimish?  There.  I knew you could...

During the Ten Days of Repentance, we witnessed several Jews of different backgrounds performing tashlich at a small pond in the Wohl Rose Garden, right near the Israeli Supreme Court building.  There were five or six Chareidim, shuckling gently with prayerbooks in hand. Across from them, on the other side of the pool, was a youngish Russian Jew, singing the prayers of tashlich aloud in a beautiful voice.  While he was not Chareidi, he clearly knew his stuff.  When they were finished, one of the Chareidim went over to the Russian and shook his hand.  There was a short, pleasant exchange, after which my husband said, "I have hope."

Stores offer products for 1 shekel each in honor of Shavuot.  The products offered might include: Tnuva, Strauss or Tara white cheese (gevina levana, 250g), Tara sweet cream and HaMutag pasta.  At Sukkot, Angel Bakery gives us a "matana" -- a gift -- of two extra hotdog rolls in the package.  Coca-Cola gives us a free additional .25 liters of Coke.  At Purim, the local online chat list heats up with interesting offers and requests:  "I am offering Superman, Ninja Turtle, Robin Hood, soldier, Moshe Rabeinu.  Looking to borrow a cowboy, and Rivka really really wants to be a parrot -- any good suggestions????  ~ Shifra"
There is a lot more...  But I think I'll give it a rest for now.  It's motsei Shabbos -- called "motsa"sh" here, and the young kids are entertaining the entire yishuv with the yearly daglanut festival, when they will learn the name of their Bnai Akiva shevet...  See?  I don't even speak English anymore!  (Sigh.)

Chodesh tov!


Batya said...

What a lovely post.
Shavua tov and chodesh tov!!!

mother in israel said...

Football as in American football or soccer football?

Mazal tov!! I especially like the vending machine pic.

Rennie and Aaron Swirski said...

Shavua Tov ! Chodesh Tov !

We are delighted to hear your success story ! May it continue for many years - Rennie and Aaron

Baila said...

Mazal Tov on three years in. Did you notice the new shevet takes it's name from your blog title? Now you know you've arrived!

Joy said...

And you are happy! We love you and miss you but have seen that Aliyah was right for you!

Eileen said...

Great posting. Can't believe that it has been 3 years since you left Baltimore. I loved your language comments --- for me I think it goes English vs non-English (which could be a combination of Hebrew, Swedish and Danish -- unfortunately the Hebrew is not the strongest of the three and I am not so sure about the other 2 languages anymore). Eileen

SuperRaizy said...

I just love this post!
Did that handgun-in-the-pocketbook thing really happen?

rutimizrachi said...

Batya: Thank you, and back atcha!

Mom in Israel: Oops. My American is still showing. I don't know if I'll ever get over that. Football means American, and soccer means everybody else. ;-)

Rennie and Aaron: Amen! Thank you!

Baila: Yeah, they consulted me about that. ;-)

Joy: Thank you for "getting us" so well. We miss you, too!

Eileen: Exactly. We understand each other -- despite the language issues. :-D

SuperRaizy: Yup, it sure did. Thank you!

Ami said...

חמוד מאוד, רותי!

Did you know that מותג (moo-TAHG) means brand name?

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Outstanding. Thanks! Keep being you. It's such a pleasure. PS I can't imagine you living anywhere else.

David Eastman said...

Nice post! We are a whole new family together (well almost), in a whole new life in our age old land! Shalom from Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu! Thanks for the inspiration Eema!

Miriam said...

Mazal-Tov, Mazal-Tov! Fabulous blog as usual. Aren't we the lucky ones who came home. We live under the beautiful Israeli sky and walk the same land our forefathers walked. We are truly blessed.

Anonymous said...

It is a lovely and enthusiastic post!

Unknown said...

A truly positive and inspiring post about living in Israel!! When I generally read olim posts about aliyah, they are usually complaints, negative comparisons/stories and sarcasm. This was so refreshing to read. May your life in Israel and attitude toward it continue to be so wonderful and may you spend many years to come in OUR beautiful Land.

Mrs. S. said...

Mazal tov on your aliyah-iversary!

Great post! I especially enjoyed the only-in-Israel tashlich story.

"I don't even speak English anymore!"
Ah, but this is a GOOD thing. It shows that your klitah is almost complete...

the sabra said...

Oooh now this is a post. This is what blogs should be filled with. Love and contentment and humour and appreciation and art and details and priorities and poetry and peace and order and jumpiness.

Feel like reading it twice or thrice and then marking unread for future rereads.

Hillel Levin said...

Thanks for this Sis.

You, Avi and the Boys have enhanced our lives.

I just had my 4th and your reflections are so true.

My prayer is that the rest of the family will come home from all over the world.

Your Bro,


Jack Steiner said...

Sounds great. Looking forward to reading about the next three years.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it wonderful being home?

I love that Ten Chelkaynu vending machine. My husband gets them sent to him, but sometimes they come late, wish we had one around here.

Can I use that picture in my Only in Israel album on Facebook? You get full credit, of course!

Fern Chasida said...

great post. thanks for sharing!

bataliyah said...

"When I want to speak Hebrew, it's as if my mind were an electronic Roll-O-Dex, carefully (whirrrrrrrr) choosing (whirrrrrrrr) one (whirrrrrrrr) word (whirrrrrrrr) at (whirrrrrrrr) a (whirrrrrrrr) time....."

YES! That's exactly what it feels like to learn to speak Hebrew at, ahem... middle-age... I mentioned it this morning in ulpan to a few students who are of similar vintage. Yes! You nailed it exactly!!

Laya said...

My kids made aliyah this past summer, and I worry so much about them. Thank you for the upbeat post!

Anita at Jewish Gems said...

I don't know you, but it sounds like you're very happy where you are. Admittedly refreshing! But I must add a tashlich story - I live in the suburbs north of Chicago. This year, for the first time, I was chazzanit to our synagogue's family service, at a different location from our main sanctuary. It let out earlier than the main service, and is not really walking distance from our home. So, when I got home, I decided to take a walk on a very lovely day. There is a park near our house, with a lake. There, I came upon 3 different synagogue groups, plus some solos and duos on the shore, from all across the "denominational spectrum" from Ultra-Orthodox to Reform, and anyone in between, all davening tashlich, Unbeknownst to me, since I've never really been home at that time (usually in shul), I found a community tashlich event! Who knew? Some people had gone home and gotten their dogs for a walk, some had come straight from shul, some walked, some drove, some had guitars, some had tallitot, some didn't; rabbis greeted rabbis, everyone smiled because everyone knew while we were all there. Someone shared a crust of bread with me, and I had my own tashlich. I saw friends, and people I'd never seen before. It was absolutely the most wonderful tashlich I've ever taken part in. Like your husband said, I have hope.

Sheva said...

Hi I'm new to your blog and I got a little teary eyed when I read this post. I miss Israel , Israel made me who I am today and I long to go home.
BTW i live in Baltimore

Lady-Light said...

If it were not for Haveil Havalim I never would have seen this post. I have little energy to post these days myself, and HH is a great aggregate which saves me surfing time.
Thank you for a wonderful post! May your "Aliyah" get better and better, and rise to new heights.

aliyah06 said...

This just hit it perfectly! And only three years?! You sound like such a vatikah! And you made me laugh....I've often wondered about the skin-tight jeans, stileto heels and carefully wrapped hijab as well [LOL!]. It just proves that the one thing we all have in common is people will push the boundaries!

Shimshonit said...

What a great post. Amazing how much can happen in a few years, isn't it? I love your photos, and am so glad that this major shifting of gears in your life has led to so much contentment and joy in all your family's lives.