Week of August 26th
We had a wonderful Shabbos with the Grunbergs in Har Nof. They hosted another couple, as well as one son and his family. Amazing to me that I met this son when he was four years old and now he has two kids of his own. Dina and Moshe enjoyed playing with the kids, and we enjoyed the conversation. We drove home after Shabbos ending, driving around in only one circle before we got oriented.
On Sunday, Moshe had school until 1 PM. Dina met with some girls at the ice cream store. In the meantime, we had to go back to the book store and the supply store for more stuff.
Monday was Dina’s first day of school. I rode the bus with her, which was packed with other girls going to their first day of school. We were a little late. For the ride home, Dina got on the bus going the wrong way. We got a hysterical call from Bet Shemesh, but she managed to find her way back to the house. Moshe started full days, so he was dismissed at 4:30 PM.
Tuesday Chaim and I went for our Ulpan test. We have been champing at the bit to start, and we thought we would begin classes immediately. Not the case. First everyone sat in the auditorium and the teacher took attendance. Then we went upstairs in the Matnas (community center), and we sat down to take a test. The page asked for all the information we’ve been giving everyone since we got there – our name, address, ID number, telephone number. Chaim and I joked that the “test” was easy. But then we had to turn the page over and write an essay about coming to Israel and what we would like to do in the future. I don’t see how a written test is used to place people for what is a conversational class, but so be it. The actual Ulpan classes will be begin on Sunday, and that is when we will get the calendar and the hours.
Wednesday was mostly an at home day. Our morning errands incIuded the book store and the supply store because Dina requested a purple binder. For all the school supplies I brought from the states, here they have two hole binders with special two-holed paper. The good news is that the math book came in; the bad news is that the history books did not come in. Then we went to the bank and got a loan for the car. There were tons and tons of paperwork for the car dealer, bank, insurance company, etc. I went to the Meyerhoff library to see about volunteering. I kept wavering back and forth about putting my time to good use, giving myself time to adjust to Israel and focus on Ulpan, using my skills to benefit the community, not getting paid for something in which I have expertise, net result being I’m paying to work there since I have to take the bus both ways. I’ve decided to give myself a little more time to acclimate and get used to the Ulpan schedule before making a time commitment to anyone or anything.
Thursday started with a meeting with the Ulpan teacher and principal from Dina’s school. I got lost and walked around in circles so I was late. There were four attendees: a woman from Denver whom I had met at the bus stop, the mother of the new girl from LA in Dina’s class, myself, and the cross-bow lady I encounter at all olim meetings and events. It was nice of the school to arrange the meeting, and the principal was very encouraging, but part of the meeting was explaining why I have to pay another $90 a month for extra tutoring.
I think I had an anxiety attack during the meeting. Yehuda needs two tutors, besides his exhorbatant tuition. Now Dina needs a tutor, and I am waiting to hear that Moshe needs a tutor. We are unemployed, and librarians here make about $7 an hour, while tutors closer to $20. I think I will have to start tutoring people. Either way, between cross-bow lady and financial situation, I felt very discouraged leaving the meeting.
We had agreed to go to the car dealer, but we wanted to stop at Rachel’s Tomb, so we took the 375 past Beitar. Going there brings up a lot of emotion, both because of the holiness of the place and because of the barrier walls. I went and prayed and prayed that I could help facilitate my children’s success in Israel. I felt such tremendous energy there of people pouring their hearts out. I’m usually not a big one for going to graves, but Rachel’s Tomb is just incredibly special. I felt like the energy, the voice that would ring out in the area, is trapped inside the jail-like security. That was probably the most meaningful spiritual experience I’ve had since we arrived.
Since the taxes are going up by one percent on September 1st, Chaim wanted to go to the car dealer in Jerusalem and see if we could avoid the increase by paying for the car in full. But it still doesn’t matter. You have to have an Israeli driver’s license before you can purchase a new car. After that we drove home. It seems like the Beitar road is much curvier on the way home, and we were both nauseous by the time we got back. We made a quick stop so I could go into Best and get challah for Shabbos. As a treat, I picked up both Aim and Mishpacha.
Dina was dismissed at 1:30 PM, but she did not get home until almost 3 PM because the buses were so crowded.
Friday Chaim took a driving lesson, I cooked for Shabbos, and all the kids were home by 1 PM. The house has a totally different dynamic when Yehuda comes home, and it was louder and more boisterous than the week had been. Shabbos was great. I slept really late. The cholent came out a great consistency. Chaim thinks it is because he used pinto beans instead of chick peas. Even though I slept late, I still had a nice nap. In the afternoon, I went to hear Shira Smiles speak. As I was walking, I felt the bright sunlight. I recalled that when I was in the United States and I felt the bright sunlight on my face, it would remind me of Israel. And now I am in Israel enjoying the bright sunlight. Shira Smiles was amazing. I loved her books, but hearing her in person was much better. It reminded me of when I went to Susan Weissman’s class after a 13-year absence from regular textual study: the synapses in my brain were firing in different way to drink in and process Shira’s genius. I can hardly wait for next week’s shiur.
Motzei Shabbos I went to a Melave Malka. I’m getting a little tired of standing up and introducing myself as a new olah. I’m glad I went to know that I don’t fit in with this group of people: significantly younger and not particularly sincere in their welcome efforts.