Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel

Documenting the very personal process of making Aliyah (immigration to Israel) by one very atypical Israeli-American girl. Aliyah on 17, August, 2005. Roadmap: What do you mean there's no roadmap?! Hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride! Ole!

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Copy of my letter sent to the AUT

I am writing to request that I officially be placed on the AUT’s boycott blacklist. I make this stand in solidarity with my Jewish, Palestinian, Druze, and Christian colleagues at Haifa and Bar-Ilan Universities, as well as with the above-named institutions.

To say that I am shocked and outraged at the actions taken by the AUT in this matter is an understatement. I firmly denounce both the AUT’s resolution and the means through which it was achieved. I base my decision on the following:

1. It goes against every basic principle of academic freedom
2. It springs from a movement that promotes the destruction of a sovereign, independent country
3. It is based on statements of fact which are provably wrong, misleading, strongly contestable, or irrelevant
4. It violates the AUT’s own charter which forbids discrimination against academics and academic institutions based on race and national character, among other bases (e.g., gender)
5. It was adopted by an entirely undemocratic procedure. Indeed, a procedure that allowed only one side to present its statement of (incorrect) facts and no rebuttal allowed, nor was the floor opened for discussion prior to a vote being taken, is wholly antithetical to democratic procedure.
6. The motivations behind this resolution are transparently anti-Semitic
7. It singles out two of the most liberal, democratic, and academically free universities in the Middle East. Why these two and not the myriad of universities in African and Arab countries where infringements of human rights are state sponsored and racism is routine? Even were all of the charges against these two universities to be true, there are far more egregious offenders in other countries of the world that go unsanctioned and unmentioned by the AUT. Indeed, there are universities at which the penalty for speaking out against State policy would be death –a far more severe penalty than any exacted against Ilan Pappe of Haifa University (against whom no sanctions have been brought and who is still employed, with all benefits, at Haifa University).

I firmly believe that, rather than erecting barriers and effecting a silencing of voices, the building of bridges and the promotion of the free exchange of ideas and views is in order. I find the timing of this resolution to be exceedingly odd given that currently there is greater openness, dialogue and cooperation between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority than at any time in recent memory.

I reiterate again my displeasure and disgust at the steps taken by the AUT in this matter. Forthwith please consider me to be among the ranks of the faculties at Haifa and Bar-Ilan Universities.

I've posted this on my university homepage too. My hackles are up and I'm spitting mad. The more I think about it, the madder I get.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I've been tagged. Life is so unfair. Ok, so here are my answers:

If I could be a missionary ...I'd come up with a more exciting position
If I could be married to a current famous political leader ...I'd be making much better decisions (than him)
If I could be an astronaut ...I'd be sitting on top of the world (and rotating).
If I could be a chef ...I'd bake the world's biggest bagel (can you tell I'm feeling bread-deprived?)
If I could be a professor ...I'd ..oh wait, damn I am a professor!
If I could be a musician ...I'd learn how to carry a tune and you wouldn't have to run screaming away when I try to sing.

Now, because the universe likes balance, I get to be unfair to three dear friends. So without further ado, I'm tagging Rinat, Savta Dotty and Michie --the latter just so she will update her blog sometime in the next millenia! You chosen people have to pick five of the options below and tell us what you would do..

* If I could be a scientist…
* If I could be a farmer…
* If I could be a musician…
* If I could be a doctor…
* If I could be a painter…
* If I could be a gardener…
* If I could be a missionary…
* If I could be a chef…
* If I could be an architect…
* If I could be a linguist…
* If I could be a psychologist…
* If I could be a librarian…
* If I could be an athlete…
* If I could be a lawyer…
* If I could be an inn-keeper…
* If I could be a professor…
* If I could be a writer…
* If I could be a llama-rider…
* If I could be a bonnie pirate…
* If I could be an astronaut…
* If I could be a world famous blogger…
* If I could be a justice on any one court in the world…
* If I could be married to any current famous political figure…

If you don't do this, I have it on good information (ahem, Celestial Blue) that I will be cursed for life and will die in 7 days or something like that. So do it and direct all curses and grumblings at the person who tagged me --the heretofor mentioned good authority.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Chag Sameach!

Wishing everyone a very happy and kosher Passover!

My Pesach weekend is starting off great --I got my oleh visa today!!!!!!!

I was supposed to pick it up yesterday but had a seriously ADHD moment (er, couple hours) that really got in the way. I got ready to leave yesterday and all I needed was to grab my passport so that I could get through the security at the consulate. Wait, where's the passport? I know I used it last week when I went ...two hours of increasingly frantic, panicked searching later (the passport is my only form of identification outside of my university ID, which doesn't get you into a bar much less an embassy) it suddenly came to me: They have it. Hello? Visa. Passport. Visa goes in passport. Ugggghhhhhhh.

So then today, armed with my school ID, I headed to the consulate. As predicted, the ID didn't go down very well. It took at least 75 questions and the security gal going in to check with people herself that my little visa was waiting for me, before they let me through. 10 seconds later I was holding the most beautiful little document I've ever seen. It even says Aliyah on it. Everything is in Hebrew and in English. I love it! I'm sure people thought I was crazy because I actually jumped up and down and squealed like a little kid when I saw it.

And to make my day better, I might get to see my brother tonight! The poor kid had to fly in to the city late last night and as soon as he got in to the hotel he had go to the company and try to fix their software problem. Naturally he is wanting to try to get back home tonight and early tonight but may have to wait until tomorrow. So if he is here tonight then I'm tossing my seder plans to the wind cooking up the best of the stuff I was going to fix for tomorrow and doing a seder here with him tonight. I should know within the hour :)

Oh and thank you Mike for letting me know that Ynet published my Tex-Mex Matzah Brie recipe if anyone is adverturous this week!

6:30 Oh well damn. My brother is having to work until 3 a.m. and his flight leaves at 6 a.m. and he isn't even going to have 15 minutes to call his own. After working half the night last night, he had to get there early this morning and hasn't even had time to eat today. Bag that job! New job! I'm so disappointed. Well, at least when people come tomorrow for the seder they won't get short-shrifted on the goodies. LOL, bad enough that they are the guinea pigs for my first-attempt at ever hosting a seder (can you say renewed appreciation for mothers out there!).

Monday, April 18, 2005

You know you've made the right decision when...

your decision puts you into contact with such warm, open, awesome people! This is a very big "thank you!!" post for all the encouragement, advice, and just all around menschness that has come my way from you guys since I started this blog.

Just think, when I get to Tel Aviv I have promises of being plied with chicken soup and apple pie from Savta Dotty. This is a major incentive. Heck, I'd make Aliyah on this promise alone -- the pictures she posted a while back of her home-made apple pie had me salivating from afar!

Rinat, who so concisely and so beautifully sums up so many of the things I think and feel myself but can never get into words, is a constant inspiration. I can't wait to take the new train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and spend some time hanging out with her and smoking far too many cigarettes *grin*

Harry (He of the Awesome Podcasts) and Gilly, who always give such good advice -- they have restored my faith in the idea that there really are nice, normal, level-headed and, yes, sensitive men existing on this planet. (So, do you guys have any nice unmarried friends? *grin*)

Then there's Lisa. She is one of the most talented writers whose writings I've ever had the pleasure to read. Her "How Lisa Came to Israel" series has had me on the edge of my seat and beyond. Her extraordinary writing talents are just icing on the cake because the cake is pure Mensch.

How can I not mention Allison (another great writer!)? The woman has offered to help me buy a fridge when I get there (and hey, I'm going to take her up on it! I've now heard too many horror stories of fridges from the States not getting through doors and ending up in living rooms!). This is going above and beyond the call! Thank you, thank you!

I've discovered a heroine in the form of Ayelet Waldman. She has the courage and chutzpah (not to mention talent) I can only dream of having. And, if I can be such a bad mother, my future children will be truly blessed!

I'm saving a special mention for Celestial Blue, the very first person to write me and welcome me to the blogging world. From the first time I got to "know" CB through her blog and our email exchanges I felt a strong kinship, a sisterhood with her. There was an immediate sense of being in almost the same place and struggling with many of the same issues and doubts, only heightened by the fact that she is also a Battlestar Galactica fan. She has been unfailing in her encouragement and put up with me pushing and prodding her to take the same steps. But hey, it's not like I push everyone to make Aliyah --in fact I know a good many against whom I'd engage in guerilla acts of discouragement if they so much as hemmed about the idea! -- CB just seems to belong b'eretz. Not to mention the fact that it would be really great to have another cool English-speaking neighbor!

There are lots of people I haven't mentioned and should like Alisa, Maria, Michelle, Lila, Shyguy, and so many more. To all of you, a very big thank you!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Rats :(

Just heard from Nefesh B'Nefesh today and found that I was not one of the people selected for receiving financial help :(. I was invited to go on one of the group flights, however, and that is good news. I just don't know which one it will be yet, because we were required to list two flight date options. If I can't get on the August 16th flight, it will mean coming in September and thus having to stay in a hotel for a week here in NY (with 3 smuggled-in cats) before the flight. I have to be out of my apartment by the end of August. So now everyone cross fingers for the August 16 flight to be available! I won't know until around May 15th which one it will be. Eeeek.

Going tomorrow in the a.m. to the Israeli Consulate to turn in all my paperwork for my visa. I'd be dancing around a bit more if the photo I'm bringing along for it didn't make me look an escaped criminal having a really bad hair day *grin*

Oh and I actually "taught" a class in Hebrew tonight at my monthly Hebrew Language meetup because I was the most advanced one there. Lol, in other words, I knew the alphabet. I looked into doing an intensive ulpan-like course here in the city for this summer but at nearly $3k there is noooooooo way. So now I'm thinking hmm, maybe I could try one of these Pimsleur audio-learning thingys. Anyone know if they are worth the CDs they are inscribed on?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Not so good neighbors

For those who don't understand how it could occur that the IDF would shoot three Palestinian boys who were in a militarily restricted zone and who did not heed warnings to stop, perhaps this event that occurred today will explain it: Another boy-bomber caught (the fourth child to be caught this year, this time with 5 pipe bombs). Officials became suspicious because he was wearing a heavy jacket despite the heat. When told to remove the jacket, he attempted to detonate himself and those around him but was overcome. He is 15.

As for the 3 boys who were shot, they were not playing soccer nor just boys being boys and being daring and playing in a forbidden area. Their 2 companions who fled were picked up by the Palestinian police (note, not the Israeli police or IDF but the Palestinian police) to whom they admitted to being arms smugglers --this is why they were in the area they were in. You can read the report here .

Personally, I think a heck of a lot of people should be screaming about this: Woman walking with Fiance brutally murdered by Hamas' Decency Squad in Gaza. See, it's ok for little boys to be trained to kill people and aid in the killing of people but it is not ok for a young woman to commit the heinous crime of walking on the street with a man she is not yet married to and who is not her father or brother, even though accompanied by her sister. It is ok to kill her and beat her body until she is no longer recognizable as a human being because of this incredibly immoral act. This is a real crime. How dare the IDF shoot at someone who is only trying to bring death and destruction to others.

Monday, April 11, 2005

eeeeYeeessss (maybe)

Just got back from my interview. I'm trying to continue breathing. I think it is a yes. It is not guaranteed a yes but BUT he said he is going to do everything he can to work it out so that I have a half-time position starting in October. He was like, "I want to do whatever possible to help you get integrated and to make your transition the easiest possible." I love this man. He also said my research is in exactly the area they are looking for (for the permanent position starting in 2006). He was really interesting to talk to and the poor man only just got off the plane this morning at 4 a.m. Let me tell you, I was so nervous I could barely think straight. It got worse when he spoke to me in German and I was like oh G-d stop it --all I could think of was hebrew, bad hebrew, when I tried to respond. I was completely thrown and was like, let's stick with English please :) Oh and on that note, he said there would be no pressure as far as teaching in English for awhile and that eventually I would need to teach in Hebrew but not for the first _couple_ of years.

I will know for sure in 3 weeks whether the job is mine or not. I may have a heart attack waiting. A huge factor will be how good the letter I get from a colleague here is. He was like "a really good letter from Yankele would pretty much seal the deal." This is a source of mild anxiety for me because while Yankele likes me and we are on friendly terms, he is really good friends with my Ex. I worry because when I applied for jobs a couple of years ago and used Yankele as a reference I didn't get any interviews (as in none) --as soon as I dropped him and replaced him with another colleague I got interviews for every position I applied for. On the other hand, Yankele is the one who brought me to the attention of this university in the first place. Well, I can't stress. What he writes, he writes. If they hire me, they hire me.

Why is it that those last three sentences are so not working for me?!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Various tidbits

Shipping costs. Ooooo ouch. They are going to be about a thousand dollars more than what I was hoping, which was, of course, the most minimum amount that I'd heard was possible. Still, it could be much worse. The really good thing is that Strand is willing to pick up stuff not only from my apartment but also from the school for me at no extra cost, provided I can get the go-ahead from NYU to let them come in and schlepp the stuff out. This could be much easier said than done because NYU rivals any monolithic bureaucratic entity on earth for absolute obstinancy and idiocy. I'm hoping this will work because my shoulder is already complaining about my attempts to bring home 15-20 or so books a day in the hopes that they can all be happily here and in boxes by August 1st. (Any insomniac book people out there are welcome to borrow these particular books --guaranteed to have you sleeping peacefully in no time!).

I considered and then emphatically rejected the idea of doing bodily harm to one of my graduate students this week. I waited until today to send a scathing email to her and, believe me, it was not nearly as scathing as it should have been. This survey for a study has been ready since November and all she had to do was to get it into the right format for getting it online. Tedious, yes. Difficult, no. Believe me, if I can do it, it can't be too difficult. For the 9millionth time she sent it to me and it is completely and hopelessly wrong in so many ways I can't even count. For instance, when uploaded only the first 8 out of 150 questions are visible because she "forgot" to put the ending " mark after the font colour for every single question after 8. That was the easy fix. The rest, oy. After working on it for 12 hours and still not finding all the php bugs (not to mention all the mistakes to the survey itself with question wording, order, answer order and options), I scrapped it and have now started from scratch. The obvious lesson here is: If you want something done right, do it yourself and do it yourself the first time. Delegating to others is great in theory, especially because (in theory) it causes you less of the eye-numbing headaches and wastes of time. In reality, you end up doing the eye-numbing work under incredible deadline pressure after suffering countless additional headaches you just didn't need.

I should consider doing myself bodily harm, but won't, because I still haven't finished the article I was carping about a couple of weeks ago. Life, inept surveys, and any other avoidance tactic possible have gotten in the way.

Monday, April 04, 2005

fridge it or idjit

Daylights savings time started today? How did I miss this fact? Thankfully, even though I was a half hour late (thinking I was being soooo early) to the Israel real estate fair sponsored by the Aliyah Center, so was the owner of Strand Shipping. He too had spaced the time warp!

I got a ton of information about the ins and outs of schlepping over my stuff and have definitely decided to go with Strand for the move. I was thinking about going with Kef but nope, I'm sold on Strand now. They add that personal touch. On Thursday he will be coming by my apartment to assess how and in what my stuff will get schlepped. (20 foot container vs a couple or 3 crates...). He seemed to think 2 crates should do it but he hasn't seen my book collection. Sigh, and to think I donated something like 600 books to the local library last september.

Ahhh people living in Israel I need your help: do or do not most rented apartments in Tel Aviv come with a fridge?

Very conflicting info on this has come my way, with my roommate and several other people claiming that otherwise unfurnished apartments for rent do usually have a fridge (but often not a stove). Other people (including the real estate apartment-finder people I talked to today) said NO, they don't generally come with fridge. Since I am meeting with the "we sell wonderfully perfect for Israel appliances" people next week and since everyone seems to agree that if you buy a fridge buy one here and ship it, I need this information!

Show of hands for buy the fridge now please, show of feet for don't be an idiot...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

a Baudelaire child...

This is what happens when you have a real world Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep's character in Lemony Snicket) for a mother:

1. As you are reading a post about the need to wear bike helmets on the House of Joy site, highlighted by a story about their little babysitter who got into an accident and spent a week in the hospital with a concussion, you immediately start a comment with, "Good G-d, the child could have gotten an eggshell fracture which is fatal!" before pulling yourself together and deleting it.

2. Even though you've pulled yourself together enough to not post that response, you can't stop yourself from free-associating first from every bike-related eggshell fracture case your Moth..Aunt Josephine has informed you of over the years (ahem, 4) to every other activity and case of eggshell fractures: hmm, let's see at least 2 from skiing accidents (not to mention several cases of broken necks); a total of 7 from skateboarding, iceskating, and rollerskating combined (pounded into my head when I was a skate kid); 1 from horseback riding but that is more likely to cause a broken neck leading to (most likely according to Aunt J) death or (secondarily) paralysis, and 1 from slipping on stairs. Eggshell fractures can also result from falling off ladders, out of trees, and slipping in the bathtub. Give me about 10 seconds and I'll be able to remember more. Hey, if I have to know these things so do you dear readers :)

3. You read a post (on Aliyah Blog) about bugs in lettuce and needing to wash the greenstuff carefully but you, alas, do not manage to pull yourself together in time to not send along the helpful information that lettuce needs to not only be washed carefully because of the bugs but because there are deadly viruses in the soil that cling to it. You can (and do) quote cases of extreme illness and death resulting from scarfing unwashed-enough rabbit food. You further can (and do) specify exactly how many times to wash the individual leaves (5) and in what (a solution of slightly warm, salted water). You also throw in for good measure the news that you shouldn't eat scallions (those long green onion things) in restaurants because they definitely can't be trusted to wash them well enough and people have died from spicing up their lives with a bit of salsa from Chi Chi's (to be specific 27 people fell ill and 4 or 5 croaked in one mass unwashed-scallion eating episode). To be fair to Aunt Josephine, the warning of death-by-scallions came from my Aunt Cheryl. But don't worry, Aunt J has added it to her mental list of possible disasters that may befall her loved ones. Alas, so have I it seems. Oh, and now you have too of course.

4. In other words, you will discover that you have been completely against your will and kicking and screaming all the way turned into an Aunt Josephine yourself.

Just watch out for the refridgerator, it could one day fall on you.

Imshin has written a must-read story entitledWhy was this night different?. It has been chosen as story of the month by Cafe Diverso. Not to be bossy but, Go read it!