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They’re here!  This is great news not only because… well, because they’re here, but because I am supposed to be taking Naomi Rivka to the Torah Home Education Conference in Baltimore someday very, very soon… and we need these Canadian passports to get across the border.  :-)

So this is a Happy Thing on so very many levels.

Oddly, they smell like oregano – like there was some kind of pizza party going on at the consulate when they were signed.  Weird.

How long –?

When people (mostly non-Jewish, but also Jewish friends and family) find out we’re moving to Israel, many of them ask, “so how long are you going for?”

Hello??  Does the word move have a different meaning in your world?

We’re moving.  That means that if everything works out, as we hope it will, we’re not coming back.

That doesn’t mean everything will work out.  Realistically, it often doesn’t, though I believe organizations like Nefesh b’Nefesh do their best to screen people (screening OUT those with unrealistic expectations) and give you a hint of the gruesome realities of making aliyah.

All of which said:  participating in the Go North program (which includes extra grants beyond the basic sal haklita – absorption basket - given to every immigrant) means we are contractually obligated to stay in the north of Israel at least three years.  (I don’t think this is a state secret; I found that information ages ago on the NbN website.)

Which means the short answer is:  three years.  We’re moving, yes, wholeheartedly and God willing, forever.  But in the back of my mind, because NbN put it there, there are those contractual first three years – after which, well, we’ll see, only because (like when you have one of those mortgage-burning parties) we will take note of the date that we are free from that obligation.

Three years is a good amount of time, it seems to me.  I’m told that the first year after aliyah is basically a write-off; there are good moments, but you are miserable a lot of the time.  Fun! 

So one year wouldn’t be a fair “trial.”  Two years, maybe, if you’re just starting to get settled in… or not.  I’m told it takes two years to get used to the weather, so I assume I’ll still be miserable during our second summer.

But three years:  that’s enough time for it to get good and BORING, which is what you really want.  It’s enough time for Hebrew to stop sounding new and strange everywhere you turn and just sound… normal.  It’s enough time for the kids to not only know other kids but to have good friends; friends they can’t remember not having.

Three years is enough time to put down roots and hopefully, start sending out tentative little shoots.

And for Israel in particular, two or three years also seems like the time that it’s generally quiet between Situations.  Sometimes more, sometimes less, but there are rarely four quiet years in a row.

So that’s how long we’re going for:  Forever, of course.  And three years.

The last fireworks

Trying desperately to stop family & friends from using the word “last” – like, “this is your LAST Shavuos here” or “this is the LAST time we go to Riverdale Farm” or some other Toronto landmark.

Yet I definitely felt the word LAST last night, celebrating Victoria Day (we’re the only people in the former British Empire to still do so) with our traditional downtown fireworks display. 

Sitting on the beach I have sat on so many, many times in the last 25 years, plugging a child’s ears because he’s scared of the noise (though he enjoyed it infinitely more now that he has glasses), and wondering if this is the very last time we will enjoy fireworks. 

And scared for what kind of noises that little boy will hear in his new home, so close to Lebanon, so close to Syria, so close to enemies on all sides, when he realizes that not everybody thinks Israel is God’s gift to… well, to the Jewish people, like we do. 

Sitting there, sad and scared and yet, enjoying the experience, bitter-sweetly.

I’ve always thought that fireworks must be a traumatizing experience for people from war-torn regions… just never realized they could be one for a mama on her way into one.

(for any family members or sticklers reading this - yes, this isn’t the last fireworks we’ll be here for, but we skip Canada Day fireworks if the holiday comes out during the Three Weeks, like it does this year…)

Getting the kids ready…

I’ve agreed to write a monthly blog post on the topic of “preparing the kids for aliyah in our little Canadian homeschool,” for the Homeschool Horizons blog, a collaborative bloggy reinvention of a belly-up Canadian homeschooling magazine.  Here’s the first month’s post. 

(this is a mostly Christian audience, so I’ve used English throughout)

This first post is more about the decision to move, rather than the practicalities.  So I think it’s probably quite relevant, and I may eventually repost it here.

And okay, I know what you’re thinking… well, I know what I’m thinking:  “if this is a monthly series, how many of these am I going to get a chance to write before we actually leave?”  The short answer to that is three. 

Three before… and maybe a whole bunch after!

Still waiting for visas.  You, dear avid readers, will be the first to know when we have them.  Okay, the second… after everybody I know in real life.  :-)