Friday, August 31, 2007

Last Post Before I Leave, or the Things I'll Miss About America

Things are getting into crazy hectic mode. Last night Isaac and I were up til 3 a.m. basically going through old files and tearing up anything that had our social security or any account numbers on it. We still have a huge box of files that we brought from Brooklyn 12 years ago. Isaac is going to burn them. I hope that turns out well...

I have a huge pit in my stomach that I don't think will go away for a few months. This is something I have always wanted to do. I believe in it. And yet I am afraid. I am trying to have emunah that it will all turn out okay, but still...

Most of you know that we are not making aliya because we are unhappy here. On the contrary these past 12 years in Cedarhurst have been amazing. The five towns community is one of the most generous, beautiful communities. I will always have hakarat hatov for the way the community, both friends and strangers supported us when we so badly needed it. There is no way to repay that kind of support.

So here goes, my top ten list of some of the things I will miss most...(not necessarily in order).

1. Ben the Mailman. He's from Hawaii and has been delivering our mail since we moved in. He knows the girls names and always had a kind word for them. A great guy. (Wonder what mail is like in Israel!)

2. Karen our neighbor and her dog Wills. A gracious woman who inspired our love of dogs. Her Bouvier is as big as a pony and every morning she would come talk to the kids at their bus stop as she walked Wills. That was comforting to me in last year or two when I left for work before the bus came. (The other moms were home, I didn't just leave them in the street alone!!! Sheesh!)

3. The North Woodmere Park Pool. What a great place for such a great price. The kids loved swimming there and in the past few years when the kids became adept swimmers it was so relaxing for me. It was where my friendship with Bonnie was cemented. We've have many conversations about Israel while sort of keeping an eye on the kids.

4. Yankee baseball. Their time will come the meantime the Modiin Miracles made second place in the new Israel Baseball League. Unfortunately they are sponsored by the Mets, but still we'll root for them. Nobody said aliya was going to be easy!

5. Ilana's mushrooms. Yum yum. And of course having such a good friend around the corner. She was often my Shabbat afternoon date. It doesn't hurt that she's such a great baker.

6. My annual Rosh Hashanna davening partner, Nadine. Everyone tells me how amazing it is that I will be arriving in Israel right before the chagim, that the chagim will be so uplifting. Maybe. But I don't think so. I have been sitting with Nadine (and her mom) for I don't know how many years now. We kept the talking to a minimum, but it was so good having her right next to me. I can't even imagine getting through the davening this year in a new, unfamiliar shul, with so many unfamiliar people.

7. Shabbat morning coffee with Chedva and Alice. and cake. and m and m's, or whatever else was lying around. I should have gone to shul, but those two are just to irrestible.

8. All the doctors that have treated my family and me here. True Shlichim of Hashem. They are amazing professionals who are so caring. Especially those involved in Liat's care.

9. Those companies and businesses that provide such great service around here. OSI. American Dry Cleaners. Sarge on central avenue.

10. All of you. I love you all so much and truly hope that our connections will be maintained. We have the same 516 phone number in Israel. It's a local call, and I hope we stay in touch. I'll keep posting to the blog, but I want to know whats going on in your lives as well.

That's it for now. My next post will be from Israel. Who knows what the future holds for any of us? With G-d's help we hope to thrive in the homeland of our people, and for you all to join us there some day.

K'tiva V'Chatima Tova!

May this be a year of health, peace and prosperity for us all.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Last of Everything

And so we begin our last week here in Cedarhurst. Next week at this time we will be sitting on an El-Al plane. A one way ticket. I am nervous, and scared. All my adult life I have wanted to do this and now I am praying that we have made the right decision. Tomorrow L. comes home from camp to an empty house. How will she react?

I am starting to think, "This is the last time...." The last time I will be in this store....the last time I will drive down this block....the last time I will go to Splish-Splash....the last time I will buy the newspaper in this store...We've already had our last Shabbat meal in our home...and its feeling less and less like our home.

Today the new owner came for the walk-through. We didn't know he was coming and the house was a complete mess, but he was okay. We also cancelled our utilities for next week. Friends walk in, and leave with our stuff. They say, "you're not taking that?", and we tell 'em to take it. Since we couldn't send liquor on our lift, a few people came by for a "Finish your liquor party". Big drinkers, our chevra--they barely made a dent.

Tuesday and Wednesday we'll do more tying up of loose ends. Thursday is a big day for us. L gets her Make-A-Wish day--maybe I'll post about that. Friday I'll leave aside to have a full blown panic attack. Shabbat we eat at friends (kiddush in memory of S's father A"H). Isaac was asked to daven shacharit--which means I have to be in shul early (couldn't they ask him to do Anim Zmirot?--the last prayer, usually lead by young boys). Our last Shabbat at this shul we love, warts and all. Our last kiddush club that Isaac is so proud of (after davening, everyone is invited). Sunday, good-bye to my parents, who don't want to come to the airport (will it be easier at home????) and more good-byes at our shul barb-b-q. And.....Monday, Monday.

We have been asked to bring a Sefer Torah to Israel. What an honor and a priviledge. I feel like this is such a good siman for our aliya!

We are truly blessed....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Lift has Left the Building

The house is just a shell of what it was. Three burly, hardworking men packed it up in a manner of hours. It was hard to watch. So now Isaac and I are sleeping on Ilana and Steve's cots. There is no place to sit and hang out downstairs, except for our old, small kitchen table that we bought from Caldors when we first moved in.

I am so sad that I am leaving. I didn't realize just how hard it is to say good-bye.

The girls didn't seem to fazed by the house coming apart. Of course they still have their beds. They did very kindly offer for us to sleep in their room and them to get the cots. (There may have been an ulterior motive in that--TV and internet is in our room). Actually, I was proud of them, because the workers told Isaac that the girls offered them help in moving some of our stuff. The workers very suprised by that.

Ozzy is totally discombobulated. His sofa is gone and now he only has his second floor perch to check out the passing parade of people, squirrels and fellow-dogs. Poor guy.

I would love to start posting some pictures, but that would require some technical knowledge. I'll see if I can figure it out.

In the meantime, Shabbat Shalom.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Leona Helmsley is Dead

That's the third "icon" of New York to die this week. First Phil (the scooter) Rizutto, then Brooke Astor and now the "Queen of Mean". All three were part of daily life in New York City when I was growing up. All lived long, full lives, and left a mark on this great city.

But I can't help thinking when people like that die, the rest of us are moving up in line....

They don't call me "doom and gloom" for nothin'...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why I'm Blogging

I've been reading other people's blogs for about a year now, and find many of them to be very well written and entertaining. Of course, I particularly enjoy the aliyah blogs. Many people write blogs and then stop. It does take some time and effort to maintain them. Some of these writers are incredibly prolific and write daily. I decided to treat my blog as a diary. I've been keeping a journal on and off since high school. (Okay sometimes YEARS pass between entries), and I just decided to put it here, really to let my family and friends know what's going on in my life, especially since we are moving to Israel. I don't know how often I'll write, but I guess it will be when I feel the need to comment on and analyze what I'm experiencing in Israel.

Oh, and I can't promise you the spelling, grammar and punctuation will be perfect. Please feel free to correct me. There doesn't seem to be spell check on "blogger"--if someone knows otherwise please let me know. (For example, how DO you spell 'beaurocrasy'?)

There is a whole world of Jewish bloggers out there, and many of them know each other through their blogs and link to each other. There are even annual awards for Jewish blogging with many different categories. I havn't figured out how to link to them, which is a good thing for all you guys because I promise it becomes addictive to start reading this stuff (ask Isaac!--he says I spend way to much time on the computer). Eventually, though I will, and you'll see what I mean.

If any of you know how to do this stuff (linking and other stuff I'm clueless about), please let me know.

I'll tell you what this blog won't be. It won't be a minute-by-minute account of what we are doing in Israel. And, although it will be somewhat personal, it can't be to personal because I have to respect the privacy of Isaac and the kids. (so, no, I won't be writing about any arguments that I. and I may have--not that we ever argue...). I also want to try to limit the complaining about some of the things you hear about that are difficult in Israel--the beaurocracy, corrupt government etc. I really want to try to see the good of the society I'm choosing to live in, rather than the not-so-good. I feel bad about saying "lashon Harah" about Israel, and will try hard not to do that. But we'll see.

So this blog may turn out to be one big bore. Read it at work, when you have nothing better to do. I would love you all to comment when you want to--just click on the comments section and go.

Ultimately, this blog is just another way to keep in touch with the people I care so much about, whom I will miss terribly. All of you, in other words. I hope it helps us to stay connected and involved in each other's lives, even from so far a distance.

Shavua Tov!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pet Peeves

This post is a bit of venting from moi. Let me start by saying that once we made the decision to make aliyah, our friends have been extremely supportive. I know that some people are concerned, especially regarding L's health issues. And those are legitimate concerns, expressed by people who have my family's best interests at heart. Once we made the decision to go ahead with the move, however, my friends seemed to understand that this was it, and have been very supportive. I know its hard for my friends. I know they are worried about us "making it" in Israel and about L. and I know (I hope!) they will miss me (I'm in tears just thinking about leaving them). But most of them understand the magnet that is pulling us to Israel, because I know the magnet pulls them as well.

But I digress, as this post is titled Pet Peeves. These are comments and questions that are really irksome--especially when they come from strangers, or people I barely know. Here they are, in no particular order:

"What a terrible place to live. When I lived there it was awful. You had to shlep everywhere six times before you got your (fill in the blank--driver's license, passport, health insurance etc). And its so expensive to live there, everyone lives in 'meenus'--[overdraft]. You're going to hate it there."

I have heard this type of speech several times. It comes from people who have lived there and now are back in the USA. When I. and I hear these comments, we do get nervous. But then we tell ourselves--this person came back, for whatever reasons. For some reason people who have attempted aliyah and find themselves back in the states feel the need to tell us exactly how difficult our lives will be over there. I'm not really sure what they're point is, though. Do they think I will say, wow that's terrible, we should cancel our plans? I always have respected people who attempted aliyah, and had to come back for whatever reasons. I used to say, at least they tried, thats more than I did. Now I am going. I wouldn't say we are "trying it" per se, because we are looking at it as a permanent move. Yet G-d takes us down many roads, with many twists and turns. I don't know what He has in store for us. But I hope to always be encouraging to people who want to move to Israel, no matter where I am. There are so many great things about living in Israel...tell me about those things please....

"Teenager olim in Israel have a very difficult time. There is nothing for them to do in the summer, and many of them go off the derech and get into drugs and involved with bad crowds"

Sigh. I know the adjustment will be extremely difficulty for L., who will be 14 years old on Sukkot (be'ezrat Hashem). I am definitely going to make sure the summer is structured for the children--there are programs in Modiin that the kids go to that are affordable. I pray to Hashem everyday for the physical and spiritual health of my children. But please. Don't we hear all the time of teenagers right here in our community who are in trouble??? That's why there are so many organizations and special schools and fundraising dinners devoted to this problem. There are troubled teenagers EVERYWHERE, please don't imply that by taking my children to what I believe is a better place for them, I am leading them down a path of drinking, drugs and all-night orges...

"My friend made aliyah with five children and they all came back"

This one came from a complete stranger and made me angry. It is laughable, if it wasn't so stupid. Guess what?! Our children don't necessarily stay in the same place we are. If we are raising our children a certain way, many of them will LEAVE US, to make aliyah. Of course, I want my children to stay in Israel--I believe its where we belong. But if in their adulthood they decide to come back to the states (or to move to London, Australia or Zimbabwe), I will be heartbroken, but support them in what they want to do. Children leave home. Sometimes for places spread out in the four corners of G-d's great earth. My parents left their parents. It wasn't easy for them or for my grandparents....but we all know things don't come easy...especially those things that are precious to us.

"Are you excited? You don't seem excited."

Okay, this is one I get from everyone, friends and strangers. It doesn't quite belong with "pet peeves", because it doesn't bother me as much, and is not downright negative. People ask this question of I. and me and of the children. Let me say this. I. and I are very excited about this move. We are also very nervous about the challenges that come when making a move such as this one. So nervous that, well let's just say my stomach is reacting like crazy. As far as the kids go, I'm not sure what everyone expects. I talk to them all the time. They never said to me, "Mommy, I am so excited". But they ask me lots of questions that lead me to believe that on some level they are looking forward to the move. They also tell me how much they are going to miss their friends, and express concern about making new ones. We don't sugarcoat it for them by telling them everything is going to be perfect because its Israel. They know it will be hard for them at first, academically and socially, and are worried about that. But they understand, I think, why we are doing this...and I truly pray that in the future they will be happy that we made this move. But if you ask them if they are excited, no, they will not jump up and down and shout their joy for maybe instead of that, an encouraging word on a positive note would be good for them to hear...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Tag Sale

Stuff. We all want it, or think we do. How many times have we gone to a store and saw something that we really, really wanted. We turned it over in our minds. Should we buy it? Can we afford it? Maybe not, but will my spending the 20, 50, 199, 6000 dollars make me or break me? We can't afford the tuition either way, so we might as well dig the hole deeper. Well maybe not, we really don't NEED that thing....but we WANT it, and darn it, we work hard for our money, and life is short, so we may as well enjoy it. And then we bring the coveted item home. And it does give us pleasure. For a time....and then, for some things (not all), you look at the item and you say, "THIS is something that I so desperately wanted? Eh, I really could have lived without it."

So today we sold all that stuff. Well, alot of it, anyway. And while I was really interested in selling the big ticket items (that dining room set MUST go), most people bought the small stuff. Stuffed animals. Notepads. Old fans. Dinner plates. Books. Hundreds of dollars worth of stuff that sold for a dollar or two. Stuff that I really wanted and gave me pleasure at some point. No longer. I wasn't sad to see the stuff go, but I am sad to see the empty spaces in my home, which all of a sudden I love so much and think is so beautiful. But I don't think the beauty of our home came from the stuff itself, but rather from the blessings G-d gives, and from us, my beautiful girls, and Isaac and me and the life we have created here together. This is what is so hard to let go of....not the STUFF.

At the end of the sale, I. and I decided not to bring what was left inside--we are not taking it to Israel, so why bother? We put everything on a table with a big sign that said "FREE". As we were doing this a young couple came by and asked if it was really free. When we nodded, they looked like they hit the lotto. They told us they had recently purchased their first home and were "house poor". We remembered those days. When I. and I were first married we used to go to garage sales and buy things to decorate our home with (which we sold today!). We went inside and watched from the window as the couple gleefully stuffed (!) the trunk of their car with our stuff. They looked so happy, and it gave us much pleasure to watch them; after all we were them not that long ago, and someday they will be us...they then came in the house to look at our furniture, but said they couldn't afford big pieces yet. They said, "you're sure we can't give you some money for what we took?" And I said no, just remember us some day when you sell your stuff, and at the end of the day just give it away.

Because at the end of the day, really, truly, it's not about the stuff.

Good-bye at Work

Like a train moving steadily to its destination, our life here is shutting down. On Friday I went to my office to pack it up and clean it out. I have only worked there three years, but have learned so much about working with so many people of different religions, nationalities and cultures. Good people are good people, and there are just so many good people in this world. My colleagues were so tremendously supportive when L. got sick and then again this Spring when she was critically ill. The administration (my bosses) understood that she came first, and preserved my job for me. How do you thank people like that? There is no way, just for them to know that I learned so much from these Good People, and will always be grateful...

I also went out with my friends from my old job. It was so sweet of them to invite me to their end-of-summer party. Those were real good-byes, because I don't know when I will see them again. These women were an integral part of my life for 8 years. Good People are everywhere, aren't they?