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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Our bad neighbour–a Yom Kippur story without a happy ending

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There are a few things that make me sad here in Israel, believe it or not.  I’m about to tell you about THE thing that has made me the most miserable over the last 2-3 years.

EDITED TO ADD:  Before you read on, be aware – I was attacked on Facebook about some of the strongly negative thoughts I’ve expressed in this post.  I know it’s unlike me.  I’ll get back to the happy stuff soon, I promise – I am still in love with this country, don’t worry.  And I’ll share a couple of those negative comments below – just for fun.

I believe it’s important to share not just the good stuff.  Everyone who works in aliyah, whether professionally or just for fun, like I do, has a responsibility to present both the good and bad side of what goes on here, and I hope you know I always try to do that.  I love Israel, love aliyah, love our lives here -- but I'm also realistic and try to present the reality on the ground, not the rose-coloured glasses version some people claim is all they get before they arrive.

I’m saying this because I’ve gotten in trouble for posting negative stuff before.  Even though this site is about 90% gung-ho and positive, there are some people who simply won’t let you share your thoughts if they’re at all down.  If you’re one of those people, I suggest you st0p reading right now even though there’s an exciting bit with firetrucks a little further along.

So.  Still with me?

Good.

What's making me miserable these days is our neighbour.
We live in an almost completely religious neighbourhood, and he wears a kippah and you know, I wouldn't have been surprised if you told me before we moved here that there were evil, horrible people who wear kippahs.  I would have said, "Of course there are."  But meeting one in person is just making me sad, sad, sad.  It's bringing down my whole experience.

He plays music.  Super, super loud music.
We're on the ground floor.  In an apartment which is nearly perfect in terms of almost all

Saturday, September 22, 2018

What should you bring on aliyah? What should you leave behind?

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Should you bring Ziploc baggies?  What about furniture and appliances?  One question every single oleh is going to have to face before moving to Israel is – what should I bring with me?

So I thought I’d turn to the real experts – olim who are already here. I asked the following question on two major aliyah groups on Facebook:

What ONE item did you (or should you) have brought with you when you made aliyah? Bonus: what ONE item did you bring that turned out to be utterly useless? (ours was snowsuits!!!)

I’ve divided up the responses into categories to make it easier for you to read. But essentially, there's no one answer that works for everybody. Some people bring several lifts' worth of items, others come with just a backpack.

The advice here is also sometimes contradictory. I’ve met people who say, “Don’t bother bringing anything major, you can get everything here.” And then there are others who tell you to bring everything you possibly can. It really depends on who you are and regardless of what other people’s experiences have been, what you choose to bring is up to you.

That said, hopefully we can all learn something from what people chose to bring (or what they regret bringing...).  Spoiler alert – not one person mentioned ziploc baggies.  Or toilet paper, tuna, chocolate chips, or any one of a huge range of items that they would have been begging for 10, 20, or 30 years ago.  You can get zipper bags of various kinds (though they’re still not very good, in my opinion!), the tuna is excellent, and they even have Godiva chocolate for sale here now.

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(Mmm… I saw these in a store the exact DAY my husband surprised me by showing up with one as a Rosh Hashanah present!)

Here are the major categories of people’s MUST-BRING items as well as their aliyah REGRETS.

The very biggest regret, hands-down, is a category

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Israel: Where everybody knows your name (sort of)

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There's good news and bad news when it comes to names if you're making aliyah.

The first and very best news of all -- Because Hebrew is a phonetic language, Israelis are utterly awesome at pronouncing obscure last names.  Take mine, for example: MacLeod.

In English, we've gotten every possible pronunciation, from "Mak-Lewd" to "Mick-Clod" and everything in between.  It's actually MA-CLOUD.  That's it.  Very simple, actually.  Some Canadians get it, albeit tentatively, but usually only those of Scottish

Thursday, September 6, 2018

You speak Hebrew: now what? Top 5 tips to keep on learning!

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Full disclosure: my kids laugh if I say the words “I’m bilingual” out loud.  And with good reason.

I’ll be the first to admit that Hebrew is not, and never will be, my first or best language.  I probably won’t ever be as good as they are (even if my vocabulary is technically better than theirs, in terms of sheer number of roots and words I know).

It’s true that I have an accent, and that’s never going away.  I can’t help feeling insulted when people hearing my accent, though they’re trying to be helpful, switch into their terrible English.  What, my terrible Hebrew isn’t good enough for you?

It’s true that I will probably never be comfortable with a fast blast of Hebrew shouted at me over the phone or from across the room.  Stand in front of me, let me see your lips move, let me see your body language.

But still.

What has most made me realize I actually have become bilingual is that

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Three things that are better in Israel since we came

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A few months ago I was interviewing longtime olim and they all talked about the different ways that Israel was different since they came 20, 30, or even 40 years ago.  Which is nice, to think that the general trend is onward and upward, but not always so encouraging for those of us who are coming now (for example, hearing that you don’t have to wait a year to get a phone line when we’re already used to it being practically instant back wherever we came from!).

But things aren’t just changing in the long term.  We’ve only been here for 5 years (Five?!  How did that happen??!?) and already there are things that I’m noticing that have changed in little ways, making life better and better still…

Here are 3 of my favourites.  If you’re here in Israel already, I’d love to hear yours in the Comments!

1) Fruit

Actually, I didn’t think the fruit situation here COULD get much better.  Except for the fact that a) fruit here is so seasonal, and b) we sometimes like frozen fruit for baking and smoothies.  In Toronto, we used to just keep a tub of blueberries, some strawberries, mangos, whatever, in the freezer to toss into things.  Here, we couldn’t really do that, creating the irony of a bounty of strawberries davka (exactly) during the chilly winter season when you really don’t feel like an icy smoothie.  Where were the strawberries during the summer when I desperately wanted them? I wondered.

And now, guess what?  FROZEN fruit has come along to solve some of our fruit problems including strawberries, blueberries (impossible to get fresh where we live), and more. 

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There are even these smoothie-oriented mixes, though they all have “weird” stuff in them like

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