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, May 28, 2005

Checking in from my favourite Austin coffehouse -- the Spider House. Sitting outside in lovely warm weather with not only wireless connection but enough plugs for me to have two laptops juicing up. Wow. Don't get this in New York!

I got in late on Thursday and my father arrived last night. I was honestly shocked when I saw him; almost didn't recognize him. I saw a man who looked a great deal like my grandfather (when he was 80) and lo and behold it was Abba sheli. Yikes. He is not even 60 years old and looks ancient. He totters when he walks, very slowly walks. Holy guacamole.

Note to self: quit smoking and soon. He's smoked a pack a day since he was a kid and now he has the really nasty lung thing where the muscles have just gone away and so he gets winded walking very far. I've smoked a pack a day since I was a kid and now am up to almost 2 packs when stressed. Gotta quit. Must, must, must. I do not want to look like that when I am his age. I do not want to not be able to breath. Ay yi yi.

Visit is going well so far. My brother has him today while I do some work. I'll meet up with them this evening for dinner and togetherness. On Tuesday I get him all day because my brother will have to work.

Since I have this bit of freedom from the family I'd better make some good use of it and get some of this pile of work done.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

AUT Boycott overturned!!!!

See the BBC report here. Yes!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Two things are on my mind right now. First and foremost, what to wear for the interview-by-proxy tomorrow and how to be coherent that early in the morning. I'm very unfamiliar with Columbia's campus so I hope I can easily find the right building. Also hoping it isn't raining tomorrow (as it has been all day today) because if it is I'll have to leave even earlier --the traffic will be awful! I think if I'm out the door by 7:30 I should be ok.

The second is trying to get ready for my trip home. I leave on Thursday and will be gone for a week (9 days). The purpose of this trip is two-fold. It is a "hi Mom, don't worry, really really don't worry" trip. Top priority though is to see my father. I haven't seen him in 8 years and this may be the last time I do see him. Actually, I can count on both hands the number of times I've seen him since I was 5. Since he seems to have the inability to maintain contact with his children, I decided I'd better take the bull by the horns and buy him a plane ticket to see me and my brother before I leave for another country. This way, I don't have to feel guilty if anything happens to him. This way, I can save my brother any guilt if something happens to him. Boy that sounds really hard-hearted and selfish but it is also true. The man couldn't manage to see us when we lived in the same city and he seems to have a phobia of making self-originated phone calls (to his kids), so I hold out no hope of his ever managing to come see me in another country.

If I was not looking forward to the trip to Canada, let's just say that the Canada trip is like winning the lottery in comparison to this one. It is going to be interesting, to say the least, to see how the two parents handle seeing one another again. I'm wondering how we are going to manage to think of things to say beyond the first five minutes (so how was the flight?...") much less for 4 days. He gets shipped home on Tuesday; my mother wanted me to stay until Friday morning and so I'm there longer. Sigh, what I am buying for my future guilt-reduction I am certainly paying for now in stress and methinks this next week does not bode well.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Things are beginning to happen very fast now it seems. Events seem to be happening in little surges. The interview that wasn't happened today. I got up at 5 a.m. to get awake enough to converse like a sensible human being and got into the office with 10 minutes until D-time. And waited. And waited. Checked my email and found a note saying that he was unable to call out from his office phone. So then we did a bit of question and answering back and forth on email. Suddenly the phone rang and it was another professor from B.G. who is on sabbatical here in New York and he arranged to meet with me on Wednesday to do an interview by proxy. So on Wednesday I'll do it all again (getting up at 5 because this time I have to get all the way up to Columbia by 9 and dressed in something other than jeans --ah the advantages of a phone interview! :)

Last night I got confirmation that I AM LEAVING ON THE 16th of AUGUST. WOO HOOOOOOO.

Then right after I finished the email exchange this morning I zipped down and checked my mailbox at work and sitting there was a fax from the Ministry of Veterinary Services saying "Permission is hereby given to you to bring your 3 cats to Israel, accompanied by a 'W.S. Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination for Small Animals,' signed by a USDA official or accredited veterinarian. Welcome to Israel." Happy happy dance. All I need to do now for the import permit is to call my vet and get the rabies vaccine ID numbers and email that information to the head veterinary officer.

It is not even noon yet. Hmm maybe a celebratory nap is in order, lol.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Reading this just made me feel ill. Too tired to blog more about it tonight. Too late in the night to give a frustrated scream.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Eventful, eventful day!

Can I collapse now? What a day. First thing was waking up really early (for me) at 7:30 to consume coffee before rushing Mischa to the vet. He's been yakking for days now and all last evening was hiding under my bed. Definitely vet-time. So off to the vet who ordered bloodwork and exrays and quickly determined the kitty needed an enema. Poor kitty. So I left the cat (thankfully) at the vet and rushed back home to get ready for my meeting.

Checked my email and found the letter from Ben-Gurion. Jumped up and down a good bit, even after realizing that if I were to get the job I'd be in Beer Sheva. yeeeee. How long is the commute from T.A. to B.S.? *grin* Then off to my meeting.

At 2:00 had to get my teeth cleaned. I was having just slightly more fun than the kitty --I hate getting my teeth cleaned. Then I ran next door to see if my orthodontist could quickly fix the brackets I broke on my two front teeth yesterday while noshing on a forbidden bagel. I was reminded that I missed my appointment with him last thursday (I actually thought it was for today, but oh well). And can I just say that my orthodonist is certifiable? He came out and announced to the waiting room that he was going to hit me and that it was a good thing he treated adult patients because he couldn't hit a 12 year old, just someone who looked like a 12 year old. I was highly offended on many counts. Who is this guy?! I didn't have a chance to tell him off because they couldn't fit me in in time for me to get out before my meeting at ABC --it was already 3:25 when they said they were getting the room ready and my meeting was at 3:30 and 15 blocks away. So I told them I'd come back tomorrow (at least the psycho ortho won't be there -- his father does the friday practice).

Leaped in a cab to go to ABC and arrived 20 minutes late. In a whirlwind I purchased the following:

1 JVC 21" tv (185) --I so wanted the 29 inch but it was $500!
1 Pan VCR (110)
1 Jawin DVD ( 60)
1 M Richards 29 litre mini-oven (150)
1 M Richards 2-loaf bread machine ( 85)
1 Sharp microwave oven (120)
1 AEG washer (600)
1 AEG dryer (550)
500w transformer for kitchen ( 40)
1000w transformer for printer ( 65)
Total Damage: $2,065

Ran,literally RAN out and grabbed cab to pick up the cat from the vet. Called vet from cab and they said get here quick or we are locking up. Pleaded with cabbie to hurry. Called vet and promised to be there in 4 minutes. Got there in 8. Paid kitty bill: $560. Nearly screamed when I realized my cat cost more than the lovely dryer and as much as the lovely dishwasher I refused to let myself even look at (longer than 10 longing seconds). Picked up the flushed out kitty and grabbed *another* cab home.

I think I can collapse now.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Phone interview Monday morning with BGU. Yes, dance, panic. Now I have to figure out how to call --My cell phone doesn't allow international calling and I never reconnected my home line after the January fiasco. Ohmyg-d. Yes. yay :) Yay!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A smattering of life (mine)

This post should be filed under "random things."

I'm now on Box #6. It is still exciting. But I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. Already. Somehow the apartment isn't panicking me (yet); it is the office that also has to be packed that is doing that. I was like, how in the world do I have all this stuff crammed in here? And how am I going to get it all packed. But more, where the HELL am I going to put it in Israel? It isn't so much the books (lots) and the journals (lots and lots). It is the data. Piles and piles and oodles of surveys and videotapes and forms and, and, and...and I am required by law to have them in my hot little hands for 7 years. Not 7 years from when the study was run, mind you, but from when the study was published. In other words, somewhere between 8 and 12 years. Ayyyyyyyyyyyyy.

CB was right: the Pimsleur short course in Hebrew teaches you very well how to say "I don't understand Hebrew." I've now listened to 4 lessons and the bulk of all 4 (we're talking 2 hours here) was repeating variations of "Ani lo mevina Ivrit." While this is an important phrase to know, somehow it just doesn't seem like the right concept to be shoving down someone's throat with a program that is supposed to teach you how to mevina Ivrit!

Haven't heard anything about the job. Biting my nails.

We had our end of the year party at school today. I attended with some trepidation. My modus operandi this past year (and some) has been to pretty much fly under the radar screen and I was obviously successful as the number of people coming up to me and saying, "I haven't seen you in ages," was large, as well as a few saying, "what, you are still here?" Of course, there were a few who were 'shocked' that I was leaving and who had no clue that I was only here on a 3-year contract -- I won't go into that. Yo people, where have you been? Yankele made the big announcement to all that I was moving to Israel. Then of course everyone wanted to know what university and I was like well ya see... ugh.

Was happy when the Sr. Prof. in charge of writing the grad student evals came up to me and noted that he was impressed to see that my major grad student had so many publications with me this year. I have to say that 5 isn't shabby in the least -it is more than any of the other grad students have with their major profs (it is actually more than any of the major profs have themselves in a year) and I'm only an assistant prof. I was really happy when I could smile and tell him, "and we just got 2 more accepted for publication."

P.S. Am I self-symbolizing? Yes, a bit I'd say :)

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Packing it up

That's right, I'm packing up my toys and going home! I got my boxes today!! Now this may not seem like a major life event but actually it is. Today, for the first time, it really hit home that my home is going home.

I packed a symbolic first box this afternoon. After reading through all the 'how to pack, label, and list correctly' information (a surprising amount of details have to go onto each box and in a variety of places on the box as well as on a separate master of disaster list) I cut the white cord holding the smallest boxes with a ceremonious flourish. Then I assembled Box Number 1: sfarim, salon, my (many-digited) shipping account number. It sits, filled to the brim with german books, in the middle of my living room now. It has the above information correctly and clearly printed in both english and hebrew on 3 sides of the box. It is sealed correctly in "an H pattern" with the tape that was provided. The contents are noted on the insurance form and the value suggested by Strand for used books (non-textbooks) has been filled in. The contents are further listed on the Master List, and also (with some additional details --i.e. not critical to open immediately) on the My List.

It sits there making it quite clear that I am MOVING.

Be warned, from now on I'll no doubt be bitching and whining about all the packing and the hassles of where to put what, and do I take it or not, and it won't fit, and "what the hell is it?"s. Not to mention that I haven't got much space to stack packed boxes! Today though, moving is fun, exciting, inspiring and really happening!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

So the taxi driver. This man is now responsible for two sleepless nights because, having not slept and then slept until early afternoon, I am very non-sleepy now. I'm still trying to figure out what this guy was thinking. The idea of a terrorist of any kind is certainly no joking matter. The idea of a Palestinian terrorist is really no joking matter. Not in this city. Not coming from someone who is from Kuwait.

Not coming from someone who, after being told by the taken-aback passenger that this really is not something to joke about, responds with "but of course I'm joking" but then proceeds to launch into a tirade against Sharon and the corrupt and evil Israeli government. Okay.

Until I had the dream I didn't realize how much this was bothering me.

I'm trying to figure out why he would say this. People often do things that are counter-intuitive and that end up hurting themselves as a result: for instance, the rude waitress who, while depending on tips, acts rude and thus...gets nada for her work. I've had more rude and/or inefficient cab drivers than I can count who rude themselves out of what would have been a much more generous tip. People often poke fun at themselves, their nationality, their religion and so forth.

But having someone who is quite obviously arabic smile and introduce themselves as a Palestinian terrorist is sort of like having your son's new boyscout leader smile and introduce himself as a child molester.

Then after telling you, ha ha just kidding, he goes on to set you at ease by waxing rhapsodic over the physique of (insert cute male child actor here) or argues with intensity about the innocence of Michael Jackson. Righty-roo.

Do I think this guy is a terrorist of any kind? No. Well, 99% no. Here's my problem with the 1% of doubt (aka a little knowledge can do bad things to your dreams): people are highly motivated to make others aware of important aspects of their identity, particularly when these aspects are somewhat recently acquired (see Gollwitzer, PM, & Wicklund, RA (1985). Self-symbolizing and the neglect of
others' perspectives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology for instance. *grin*) or when they pertain to self-aspects that are not easily in evidence to others. Should someone say or do something to suggest that we might not measure up on some identity-important quality we will tend to subsequently tell anyone and everyone (no matter how situationally inappropriate) how great we are on just that aspect. So, if you tell a young medical student that a test he took indicates he really isn't cut out for medicine, he will manage to insert comments into conversations with other, totally unrelated people from the person who told him this and who have no idea that he even took such a test, that "I'm in medical school, you know" or all about how great he is doing in med school or all the things that indicate he will be the best damn doctor ever and so forth. We also do this if it is not us specifically who were criticized but a group to which we belong.

So I 99% think this guy was an idiot with a capital I. In the cab I thought he was an idiot, when I got out of the cab I thought woooo bizarro and then went on with my busy day without giving it another thought. But the doozy of a dream last night tells me that that 1% is niggling away at me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It is 1 in the afternoon and I just woke up with that groggy 'you slept way too late' feeling that I so hate. I didn't intend to sleep this late. In fact, my alarm was set for 7:30 because I have so much to do on these papers. The problem was that I went to bed at an early hour (before 2 which is early for me) and had a most horrible nightmare. It was one of those dreams that are so vivid they are still with you the next day in excruciating detail. One of those dreams that is rich in sights, sounds, and even a sensation of smell and touch. I almost never have this kind of dream anymore, especially not of the nightmare variety. This one was a doozy. After I woke up from it I kept trying to rework it, to fix it and, in a half-sleep sort of managed to fix part of it until I slid back into full sleep and continued the dream with ever-worsening results. I woke up again in a cold sweat and didn't fall back to sleep until my alarm was going off. I turned off the alarm and finally slept in peace.

I dreamed I was in a high-rise building here in New York, an apartment similar to that of friends of mine who live on the 40th floor. My brother was visiting me along with two of his friends. I lived there. We were sleeping and I 'awoke' to a sensation of my bed, the floor, the whole building, tilting at a dangerous angle. I watched as the building swayed back and forth and then the living room and half of my bedroom simply disappeared, peeled away and vanished. With it went one of my brother's friends and, because the living room went, I also knew my cat Mischa was gone as he always sleeps there. The rest of the dream involved trying to get out of this building, the core of which was the only thing left and about to go. Obviously shades of 9/11. Obviously worries about not getting permission to take Fat Cat.

I think it was sparked by the exchange I had with my cab driver yesterday. I'm used to strange cabbies but I've never had one turn around and smilingly introduce himself as "Hi, I'm a Palestinian terrorist" before. It was a strange and disturbing cab ride and I want to blog about it later. Now though, I have infused myself with caffeine and need to get to work.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

the cat weighs in, heavily

Today I took the last (and the biggest) of my 3 cats in to get the rabies and booster shots required by the Israeli government. Mischa, my little monster cat, weighed in at a whopping 22 pounds! No wonder my shoulder hurts! Buffy (at 8 pounds) and Pandy (at 14 pounds) got vetted on Saturday. So one round of vet visits down, 2 more to go. I haven't heard back yet from the import-a-cat ministry about how exactly I go about getting permission for cat #3 --now known as "Fat Cat" --since the requirements state you need to make the application from within Israel. I will fax them again tomorrow and ask again for clarification. I also need to hunt down a USDA vet because they have to all see one within 7 days of departure. Someone tell me again why it is that I am cat-owned?!

Monday, May 09, 2005

You know you are a girlie girl when you see a link to a site on a lot of people's webpages and never bother to check it out because you assume (ohh so wrongly) that it is all about sports. I'm talking about the site Little Green Footballs. I had the mistaken idea that it was a site devoted to Irish soccer. Now, I do like soccer --it is the only team sport that I enjoy watching --but I don't like it enough to go to a website about it. Little Green Footballs is NOT about soccer, nor is it about the Irish, nor is there anything little about it. It is quite simply a must-read. I'm so glad that my mouse accidentally clicked the wrong link and lead me there. I'm turning in my hair-ribbons and donning an LGF jersey. Quite simply, the site rocks.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I had planned to write something to commemorate Yom Ha'Shoah on Thursday. I thought about it all week. When it came to it though, I simply couldn't put anything into words. Anything and everything I thought of saying seemed trivial and flat and inadequate.

I have been reading "In the Days of Destruction and Revolt," by Zivia Lubetkin, one of the few surviving leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt. I am reading it slowly, in small doses. I can only handle it in small doses because after more than a few paragraphs I have the overwhelming urge to throw something, to scream. To cry. She writes sparely, almost cryptically. But between each of her words and sentences lies a chasm of things unsaid, of experiences that aren't described because they can't be described. In her opening statement she notes "I cannot find the words to express my feelings. Words are unfit, they no longer have any value. They are the same words that were uttered before the war, and at its outset, and all through it. And now, after it is all over, we are forced to rely on those very same words."

Much of the book is her oral testimony given within days of her arrival in Israel (then Palestine) in June of 1946. Perhaps this lends the sense of immediacy to this book for me, as though these events happened "just a short while ago" and not 60 years past.

I want to mention Aharon Koninski. He ran a children's home for orphans in the Warsaw ghetto and worked with the underground movement. Like Janusz Korczak, he too voluntarily accompanied his children to the gas chambers at Treblinka so as to not leave them alone and frightened in their last moments. Lubetkin notes, "the name of Janusz Korczak has been remembered by the entire world, while that of Aharon Koninski has been forgotten."

No, not so. Zivia Lubetkin has made sure that he is remembered because I will now never forget the name and the sacrifice of Aharon Koninski.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Sign the petition to rescind the AUT boycott of Israeli universities. Thank you Gilly for giving the pointer to this petition! More information on the latest happenings regarding the AUT (better news this time) can be found on Gilly's page.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I'm getting nervous every single time I check my email now. I should be hearing something any day about the job I applied for and, if not, he said I should inquire if I hadn't heard anything in 3 weeks. It is now two and a little bit. I am both wanting to see that email sitting in my inbox and dreading it because..what if I don't get it? It could be highly likely nothing will come of it. I've been told there is a position open at B.G. in exactly my area but I'm not sure I should apply for it -- it specifies that you must be fluent and I am so not. So so very not. I can't have a conversation with a two year old much less be able to teach a course b'ivrit. Argh. I think I will apply anyway because the worst they can say is, "no and go away." But I hate rejection. Especially if I am the one being rejected.

My roommate is being so nice to me it is scary. It is amazing what threatening to put someone's belongings on the curb can do to add a little roommately sweetness to the atmosphere. This is something of a record though -- 4 weeks straight of politeness _and_ he has spontaneously started talking to me in hebrew. Ivrit out of the blue!

Tomorrow I have so much to do it makes my head hurt to think about. I'm actually going to try to get to sleep at a decent hour tonight so I can be up and at 'em bright and early. I am so not a bright and early girl!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Fences are in, who knew?

Many thanks to Celestial Blue who posted this link on her blog thus allowing me to pillage it and post it too. Look at all the U.N. countries, including the United States, Netherlands, Spain, and Ireland (and many more, it's all the fashion!), that have FENCES and Walls to keep their unwanted neighbors out. See how pretty their fences are with the barbed wire and some with the armed guards patrolling it?

Yes, let's all criticize Israel for erecting a fence to keep suicide bombers out while sitting in safety behind our own fences.