Dear Family & Friends,
I would like to give you a little more insight into our lives here, so this post is a bit different than my previous ones.
First, I want to say that, B”H (Thank G-d), we are deep down happy here. Despite the seeming difficulties involved in transitioning to a different culture and language and getting ourselves settled, we are comfortable here in a way that we had not been before. Maybe it has to do with something I read in the OU Israel Center’s Torah Tidbits (issue 957, page 19) by Rabbi Yosef Wolicki of Beit Shemesh entitled: CHIZUK-and-IDUD-for-Olim-not-yet-Olim-respectively, on why Birkat Kohanim, the blessing of the Kohanim, is not said outside of Israel on a daily basis, as it is in Israel.
The third blessing adds the element Shalom, which includes Sh’Leimut [completion]; that we should achieve the feeling of completeness that comes with a fully integrated personality.
In Israel, these blessing[s] are part of our daily lives… We don’t have to accommodate to someone else’s calendar. Judaism is our public face as well as our private one. There is no dichotomy. We left our split personalities behind us. Here we are whole. Here we are complete. Here we receive G-d’s blessings every day of the year.
Perhaps this is why, despite the regional politics and security concerns here, Israelis are happy. A recent YNet News article, Israel ranks 7th in ‘happiness index’, reported on the results of a survey of 124 nations :
A survey conducted by Gallup institute ranked Israel seventh out of 124 states, based on the happiness level of residents.
According to the global wellbeing survey, published over the weekend, 63% of respondents in Israel said they were happy with their lives.
We definitely feel more whole here. We are living by Jewish time – and not the kind that means we’re always running late! And, it still amazes us that we no longer have to seek out stores that cater to a Jewish clientele or Jewish sensibilities, be they Judaica shops, or stores selling skirts, hats, kippot, menorahs, Kiddush cups, and the like, because they are ubiquitous here, part and parcel of the landscape and of life. We also feel that we are finally living where we belong, in the place that Hashem has prepared for the Jewish nation and, on a personal level, that He handpicked our location in Rehovot.
It is a good thing that I did not see our apartment before we rented it, but had new-found friends, also recent olim, living in Rehovot (they had responded to a posting of mine on the Rehovot Yahoo list and kept in contact with us to help us along) check it out for us. As they had already been living here for almost two months, they had seen other apartments in the neighborhood and had a basis for comparison. Rehovot is a small city, so it was also fortunate that the apartment was close to theirs; it was very helpful having friends nearby to greet us and help us acclimate. We are not in a beautiful location, the apartment is small (compared to what we’re used to) and our two bathrooms are really one full bathroom and a toilet, no sink. On the other hand, we have a large picture window with glass and shutters that completely slide into the wall, and no buildings nearby, so that we have an unobstructed view. A nice breeze (we are on the fifth floor) comes through most of the day so that we haven’t had to put the air conditioner on yet, despite the heat that can be felt once we go out. Ceiling fans do the trick. Right outside the window, like a tremendous window box, is a porch for plants – we essentially have a garden in our living room. And, because the climate here is so mild, most of the year we can keep the window wide open. Other good things about our apartment are the (very) small porch, a kitchen full of cabinets, a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, a crawl space for storage, and a storage space downstairs. Cabinets and closets are generally not built in to apartments or houses here, as they are in “the States” so, especially in respect to the kitchen, we are quite fortunate.
Our apartment is in walking distance of most shopping, and we have several small grocery and fruit and vegetable stores, a hardware store, and pharmacy either right across the street or within a few blocks of our home, so that we don’t have to go far for essentials or in case of an emergency. Supermarkets are farther away. We either take a taxi (monit) back home, have the food delivered, or, occasionally, go shopping with a friend who has a car. We are also centrally located in relationship to the shuls (synagogues) where we find ourselves comfortable and where we have found a social circle.
It’s not that all this was/is easy to get used to. However, recognizing the gift that we’ve received of being able to live here and knowing that kol hatchalot kashot – all beginnings are hard – especially making aliyah, we have persevered and continue still. More and more, we are making/finding a place for ourselves here. We’ve certainly had plenty of ups and downs, and I’m sure there are more in store. It takes a lot of faith in G-d to make a move like this. That said, I think that there is no better or safer place than where He has guided us. There is a feeling of contentment living here that has nothing to do with physical circumstances.