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, October 15, 2005

Yesh li Internet!

I now have Internet access at home!! The world seems like such a better place now. Wow, I can actually check and see that there is a world outside now and whenever I want to! Oh my, life is good :)

And life really is good, despite being busier than a bee and despite banging my head against bureaucratic walls on a daily (it seems) basis and even despite not having a working refridgerator. Life is so good that I went out and lay down in the middle of a major highway ...and did not get hit by a car.

Of course I didn't, it was Yom Kippur! This was my first Yom Kippur here and I am still in amazement of the difference between Yom Kippur here and Yom Kippur everywhere else in the world. To begin with, there is the silence. For those in the States, do you remember how quiet everything sounded in the weeks following 9/11 when there was no air traffic? Sure there were cars on the roads and other daily sounds but just the absence of planes flying above, generating noise that we generally just filter out and aren't even aware of, made everything so much quieter and more hushed. Regular sounds --people talking on the street, someone dropping something --seemed louder and more distinct. Crisp. Now picture how it sounds when there are no airplanes in the sky and no cars or trucks on the roads. When there are no tv or radio programmes filtering over to you from the apartment or house next door.

I had spent Wednesday morning frantically rushing around like everyone else, stocking up at the grocery store and running errands. I got home about 2:30 and sat down to do some work. About an hour and a half later I noticed something funny --birds chirping. They were chirping quite loudly too. It sounded like there was a bird convention right outside my windows. I looked down on a normally extremely busy and noisy street (so noisy I didn't know I had birds on my street!) and saw nothing but sun shining on pavement. Not a car or soul was in sight. Several hours later, as dusk was approaching, I was again pulled to my window but this time by the shouts and laughter of children. Lots of children. They were speeding up and down the middle of the street using every imaginable conveyance, although mostly bikes. They were on rollerblades, skateboards, push scooters, and litte ones on the tiny Israeli version of a big wheel. They were speeding along in groups of twos, threes, and twenties and all were whooping in delight. A short time later adults also began appearing, many accompanying their smaller children, others in couples and groups. I too went out and began walking around down the middle of Dizengoff, taking in the sight. Walking down the middle of the street and in the wrong direction was fun even at my age I discovered!

Then I remembered my rollerblades. I had actually, only days before, been complaining about why on earth I had brought along a pair of rollerblades that I bought nearly 10 years ago and hadn't used in at least 4 years halfway around the world. Now I knew. I rushed back up, changed from skirt to jeans, ripped open the box containing the skates and I was mobile!

There was a party happening out on every major street. There is an amazing feeling that goes with zooming along with thousands of other folks down city streets normally thronged by cars. There is such a joy at seeing the joy of the children. It was hysterical to see tired-out kids taking a break and sitting in the middle of a 6 lane road having a picnic of chocolate and other bad-for-you snacks. Everyone else seemed to have the forsight that I lacked --they all brought along water bottles and, as I skated along, I was seriously wishing I'd thought of it --and of course, there was no place, absolutely no place, to stop in and grab something to slack my thirst. No matter, I was having too much fun to care.

In the States, Yom Kippur is a sombre affair for those of us who mark it --and of course, 99% of the people around us, being non-Jews, are not marking it at all but having a regular day. There certainly are no street parties when Yom Kippur begins at sundown. No, you fast for 24 hours, you spend all day in synagogue (this was the only time of year that I always, definitely, no matter where I was in the world hied myself to a synagogue), you have a headache from hell from not having your morning coffee by the end of the day and then you kinda have a party when you feast on the fast-breaking.

This year, I had my morning coffee. For the first time since I was 12 years old, I did not fast. I did not go to synagogue. This year, I didn't need to: I'm here and that, my friends, feels like enough to me. It was an incredibly freeing feeling. I was in good company --at least half the people I know here also did not fast but feasted on DVDs borrowed from blockbuster and whatever was in their fridge. Myself, on the day itself, I worked around my apartment (it is getting there liat liat --slowly, slowly) and on papers. It was a wonderful, relaxing day. And I broke my non-fast (well it was sort of a fast because while I had coffee most of the stuff I'd bought and put in the now-totally-non-working fridge had gone off) with two really neat people: Savta Dotty and Lisa. Yay, I finally got to meet Lisa and she is even more cool in person than you come to think of her through her blog!

My Yom Kippur this year was not sombre but rather a day completely filled with joy and light and a sense of deep blessings. I like it that way.

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