Hey there everybody!
I just put together a group of people from my email list that I thought might be interested in receiving updates about our Aliyah adventure. Please let me know if you do not want to be on this list. It truly won't insult me. I know that you are all really busy people, and not everyone likes to hear big group updates. It's just the best way for me to write about the things I think most everyone would want to know without my fingers falling off. After the group letters, I would love to reply personally to anyone who writes back.
If you would not like to be in the group, you could let me know any number of ways. Feel free to cut and paste from the following options, or create your own:
(a) Diplomatic: "I would love to hear all about your Israel adventures, but I am really busy and have trouble with big long emails""
(b) Honest: "I don't enjoy group emails"
(c) Brutally honest: "I don't enjoy YOUR group emails"
(d) Subtle: "Failure notice-- I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the above address.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out. Please remove this address from your contact list"
Anyway, this is the first installment. Please note that writer is still exhausted and jet-lagged, but up anyway due to 3 hungry boys at 1:00 AM....
Where to start? We finished packing up the house in Baltimore Tuesday night around 8:15, after which we went out to dinner with the Franks and slept at their house for at least 4 hours before they drove us to our charter bus at 5:00 AM. Bus was pretty uneventful. Lots of sleeping and eating the goodies Elaine prepared for us for the flight (Thanks Elaine! Don't worry-- there was still PLENTY for the plane, and still more leftovers now...).
At the airport-- we first ran into our good friend Tzvi who lives in Israel but was there with NBN helping people like us. We went through ticketing and baggage pretty seamlessly, except for the part when Ross said he'd get in the ticket line and I should wait with the kids in the security line to make things go faster. So I am waiting approximately 73 hours in this line, pushing our 13 bags, 10 carry-ons and 2 gate check luggage, and Ross is in a similarly long line to pick up tickets, and finally my turn comes, and this large and intimidating-ish female security personnel asks where the rest of my family is. I explain that Ross is waiting in the ticket line, and she looks at me disapprovingly and says "Well he must be here right now!." I say "Should I go get him?" She nods and gives a look of, "Well DUH!" So I leave my kids in her care (thinking that with her no one else is going to sneak up and hurt them), and I run over to Ross' line, which is miles long and curling out the door, and he is 3rd in line. I inform him that the security lady needs him right away. he informs me that he is not moving until he gets his tickets. I go back to explain that he will be there shortly-- that he is right at the front of the line. She repeats that he needs to come right away. I go back and relay the message, and then walk very slowly (2 steps forward, two steps back kind of thing) until Ross is ready to come. Security lady is not happy.
As she goes through her shpiel, we are following the tried and true method of answering all questions simply and briefly. Meanwhile, Shai is trying to help too, by filling in any detail we may have missed, like:
Security Lady: Did you pack your own bags?
Shai: Well, my dad helped me, and my friends Yanniv was over pushing the suitcase together whlie I zipped it
Security Lady: "Are you bringing anything for anyone else?"
Shai: Well there's all the presents Abaye got for his birthday-- do they count?
Security Lady: Do you have any weapons in your luggage?
Shai: Well, there is our rifle, some rocket launchers, and pocket nuclear bomb. Do they count?
OK, so I exaggerate a little on the last one, but you get the idea.
Anyway, after going through security, we rush to the place where any minute the big ceremony is going to start at 11:45. The kids are starving, but we assure them that this will be a unique, once in a lifetime experience, and there will be plenty of time to grab lunch.
After much exhaustion, starvation and kvetching of the kids, the "ceremony" starts promptly (by Jewish standards) at 12:40. The mic isn't working so it starts and stops, and then is really hard to hear, especially over the lady who has wedged her way in between me and the speaker, and is screaming into her cell phone, trying to direct someone from another part of the terminal over to where we are. She then spots her friend on the floor down below and starts screaming to her and waving. I am catching glimpses of the speaker -- how many people on the flight. How many are children. ow many have made aliyah since NBN started. How many have made aliyah from this very airport. "HEY! I'M UP HERE! WAVING!! DO YOU SEE ME?! NO!! OVER HERE!! OVER HEEEEEERE!!!!!....")
Then Ross and I made the first significant aliyah decision of our future-- we slipped away and went for lunch. First we flew straight through security-- only one other family had done the same, so it was just us. We soared to the gate, and got to choose any seats we wanted. We sprawled out, got lunch (hot water to add to those noodle soups), and were among the first people on the plane.
The flight was great. Our days of screaming babies are over (not true of everyone on the flight, but that's OK). There's the guys trying to figure out a way to daven in the back of the plane as a big group, against the safety instructions of the airplane ("if we just all go to the back of the plane at the same time, and we are each standing there as if we are just by ourselves, what can they do?-- pretty clever plan...); and the toddlers running underfoot as the stewards are serving hot coffee, but other than that you cold have been flying to London or Amsterdam.
The ministry of the Interior came around and collected our passports, and processed our papers while we slept (or watched Shrek Forever After for the 13th time). When they woke us up with breakfast, they handed back our passports with a card declaring that we were Israeli citizens. That was cool!
Landing was great-- everyone singing. Well, mostly a bunch of yeshivish guys singing about Mashiach, but that's close enough. Many people who didn't know the words were clapping. When I went in '87 everyone used to sing "Heveinu Shalom Aleichem", and now you're lucky if you land in Israel and the people arent' cursing at the flight attendants for not letting them smoke in the bathrooms or for not letting them congregate in the back for prayers, or something. So the singing was really nice.
To give us that pioneer spirit, instead of bringing us to the new airport terminal, they took us to the old place where planes used to land at the inception of the airport (or at least where I landed in 87). This meant stepping down from the airplane onto the tarmack (is that the right word? Spell check thinks not). Picking up our gate check items from the ground, and waiting to get on a shuttle bus (in thick, humid 100 degrees) to take us to the terminal. It was so fabulously pioneer-y!!! It also gave the press the opportunity to snap pictures of us coming off the plane after 2 hours of sleep and 16 hours of travel (including bus time) You can check us out on the NBN website-- don't we look happy? (Rivital insisted on wearing her sweltering hooded sweatshirt, to cover up her shirt which was dirty on the flight, so the stains wouldn't show up in the pictures).
Finally finally, the bus pulls up to the terminal, and we have the real ceremony we've all been waiting for. Hundreds and hundreds of people are there to greet us. To greet a NBN flight, one must sign up and be cleared in advance. Apparently this one was full, because we know people who were turned away. Still, We were greeted by Cigal and Morey and Alissa (for those of you who know them), the entire Richter family (minus the littlest one), Joel Wine, Tamar (one of the Shirut Leumi girls from Baltimore), Ross' good friend and colleague Mordechai with his kids, Matti-- a woman from our kibbutz who had met us the week before in Baltimore, our friend Joy who also works for NBN, and oh my gosh! Who am I forgetting? Uh oh! If I forgot someone, please don't be insulted.... But it was awesome. When Joy introduced us to a NBN colleague as the Singers, she said, "The famous Singers?" I didn't know what she meant, until I realized it was because of how many people came to see us at the airport! Anyway, it was very exciting-- People were singing and dancing and howling, and everyone was wishing us Mazel Tov and Welcome Home and all that stuff.
We'll skip the next part when they huddled us into a crowded room and locked the door (not literally, but you were really expected to stay), and guess what-- an hour of more speeches!! Sufficeth to say that by the time the thing was almost over and they for some reason called up one family by name to personally hand them their papers, Ross and I both had a strong suspicion that they were going to have us sit there and watch as EACH family came up one at a time to receive their papers. But thankfully this was not the case, which is shy, as I said, we're skipping this part, other than to say that from then on things went pretty smoothly, and before we knew it, we were on a private shuttle to our new home.
It is late and I am really getting tired and everyone seems to have fallen asleep (even you?), but I did want to say stuff about the kibbutz and about Shabbat. Hmmmm.... I'll try to be brief....
Well, the apartment is great-- feels very roomy without any stuff in it! We'll see what happens when we add stuff. It will be a little squishy, but doable. My idea of having a fridge with a water filter won't be practical, but it turns out that it really doesn't matter, as the tap water is fresh from the springs that run below the mountain! And while things might not all fit in an ideal way, with creative thinking everything should fit just fine (for example, there is really no room for a fridge in the kitchen, but they just put us a temporary one in the living room. It's not like the LR is so far from the kitchen!
They set up our apt with basic needs to tide us over, and aside form the laundry piling up in our guest room like Sarah Cynthia Stout's garbage, we have everything we need for now (and we had lunch with our friends the Ancelovitses (sp?) (Rav Elisha, as some of you may know him)-- who lives RIGHT NEXT TO US , and they offered use of their laundry machine in the meantime, which was really nice of them). We were worried with our kids and their dog about lunch, but first of all, the dog was super sweet and gentle in the house, and second of all, they kindly built a little makeshift wall to keep him out of the DR. So that was great.
Thursday afternoon (or was it Friday? I think it was Thursday), these 4 adorable little girls show up at the door looking for Abaye. We go get him. It turns out they just came by to say hi. It also turns out that they are really Shai's age, so I think there may have been some miscommunication somewhere, but that's OK. They came back on Shabbat to bring Shai to a class for kids after shul, and he went and had a great time!
Shabbat was awesome! First of all, all kinds of people came by with gifts of goodies and fresh baked challah. I didn't go to shul Fri nite because Shai was in a jet lagged sleep, but when we went to the dining hall to eat dinner with the yeshiva, I was flooded with a vision of why we are really here. The yeshiva guys were singing and dancing before dinner. I think they may have danced all the way up from shul, though I didn't see it. but they weren't dancing the kind of dance like at a bar mitzvah where you have to try to drag everyone on to the dance floor, but it was more of a spontaneous thing, like sure people are hungry and want to eat already, but first they just gotta dance! And all the young men-- yeshiva students who are also soldiers-- hugging and kissing each other, talking and laughing, sharing words of Torah. I was really disappointed that Shai wasn't there (still sleeping), but then I remembered that they do this EVERY SINGLE WEEK! (or actually every OTHER week-- alternate Shabbats they go home..).
That's about all for now. Or at least, I am too tired to write more, and I think I hit all the major stuff. Except that I saw Mirit and Dagan and their gorgeous girls Talya and Maayan-- they came by to visit Friday afternoon! And we will G-d willing be at Norman Hananya Dovid Ships bar mitzvah this week!! (for those of you who know him).
Alright, so with that I sign off, and I would love to hear from everyone, though please be patient as replies might not be as quick as usual (our internet is not really ours, and a little in and out, and our computer is slow and quirky, and in high demand).
Talk to y'all soon!