Here I was going on and on about how much I loved Walmart while we were visiting Canada, but you know what...? School supply shopping here may be even easier.
Everything is laid out in one reasonably sized section, for decent-enough prices...
For years, I thought this was a no-brainer. When in Rome, pick a name like the Romans do… or something.
Apparently, I was dead wrong. It turns out there are a million reasons not to change your name when you make aliyah:
Interesting. Notice that these are the same reasons many people give to not make aliyah in the first place?
Since you're already taking that giant step – or thinking of taking it – it seems a much smaller leap to give yourself a shiny new handle. Especially one you've chosen yourself, that you'll love hearing every day and seeing on all your shiny new paperwork.
[By the way, the Hebrew words in the image above are “olah chadashah,” which means “new immigrant to Israel” in the feminine form.]
My grandparents were olim, of a sort. Well, they were immigrants. Same thing, right?
Separately, they found a way out of Poland, where they'd grown up as "Wolf" and "Chana Rivka." When they came to Canada, they morphed into "William" and "Rose." They named their kids Albert, Charles and Dorothy.
How up are you on your Israeli geography?
One of the things I found most maddening before we moved to Israel was place names. Beyond Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, I had barely heard of other places here. Maybe Beersheva, because it’s in the Torah. Some places were in the news (Chevron), so they were somewhere in my consciousness. Others, not so much.
That quickly became a problem when we started planning to move here.
Maybe this is something you’ve experienced?
Anyone who has been anywhere in Israel, even if they’ve never lived there, has anywhere between three and a dozen places to recommend. They’ll come up to you anywhere, anytime, and spout this list like it’s gospel (or, you know, the Jewish equivalent).
Telling Kiryat Arba from Kiryat Shmona
These places are not all cities. Some are cities, some are neighbourhoods within cities, some are kibbutzim or moshavim, some are, I don’t know, hilltops somewhere with a few idealists in trailers parked on top.
Did you have one of these shape sorters as a child? (Maybe your kids did!)
Look at all those shapes. Some of them are very similar - the pentagon and the hexagon; the trapezoid and the square; the triangle and the little rounded cone-triangle (is there a name for that shape?).
(Babies were smarter in those days, I guess - newer shape sorters are much simpler.)
The fascinating part was that no matter how similar the shapes, they wouldn't slide nicely into the wrong hole.
So I think I'm like that, a bit.
We're back in Israel now. We got home at midnight last night.
And so now, I can tell you my secret: I was half expecting to hate it here. Maybe more than half. My daughter was in tears as the plane was taking off, leaving behind so many of the people she loves in Canada. I braced myself, just in case I got here and felt SO depressed to be back.
Would you make aliyah and leave your family behind? If you've got a precious fuzzy (or scaly, or slimy) friend at home, you probably wouldn't consider a big move without them.
Your dog, cat or reptile may not be exactly Jewish, at least according to the Law of Return, but that doesn't mean they aren't family.
Before we go on, I’ll admit something. Two things, actually.
One, I have owned almost every kind of pet there is except dogs and birds. Lizards, guinea pigs, ferrets, cats, frogs, hamsters, turtles, fish.
Two, when I found out I was expecting my son, twenty years ago, I got rid of every single living thing in the house. I love animals. But I knew I could either raise animals and plants... or I could raise a kid. I wasn't responsible enough to do both.
We've had a couple of near-brushes with cats since then, but so far, nothing has stuck.
So when we made aliyah two years ago, we were petless. To get some advice on what it's like doing it with a fuzzy (or otherwise) buddy, I turned to some reliable sources on Facebook, as well as personal friends who brought their sweet (ginormous) doggie to Israel from Canada.
Most important: don't assume that just because you've mentioned your pet to your Jewish Agency rep that it's all taken care of. The Jewish Agency is in charge of HUMAN aliyah.
Pet aliyah is governed jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Nature Reserves Authority, along with the Director of Veterinary Services. All of which will require a whole slew of paperwork of their own (some no doubt redundant and - seemingly - unnecessary).
Know what's nice about being in Canada?
Stepping out of a nationwide cash-coinage crisis, that's what. In Israel, for whatever reason, you'd swear there was a shortage of coins. Maybe there is, for all I know.
You know you're not in Israel anymore when you shuffle through your wallet to find the 15¢ (for the overpriced $4.15 iced coffee), and the cashier is mystified, and not particularly grateful that you're giving her your pocket change.
(pocket change in Canada)
For whatever reason, that same pocket change in Israel is precious.
Maybe the mentality started back in 1948, when the government recalled all British Mandate small bills and refused to issue new ones. At the time, stores in the new nation had to resort to issuing "chits" (like a raincheck?) instead of giving change.
Whatever the reason, you must hold onto every single agora (though you won't find anything less than ten agorot in circulation these days; the single-agora coin shown here, my mother’s, is more of a metaphor now).
If you're a religious woman, you know all about going to the mikveh. Once a month or so, for much of your married life, it's just that - a fact of life.
Women who move to Israel sometimes expect the mikveh to be pretty much the same as what they’re used to.
And (pretty much), it is. But in a few important ways, it's different. Not necessarily worse, just different. Since I’m still in Canada, a friend back in Kiryat Shmuel helped put together this list of three things that may surprise you when you go to the mikveh in Israel.
Depending on where you are, mikvaot in North America can seem almost like a luxury spa