Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pulling a Treppenwitz

I'm going to borrow a blogging technique I learned from a favorite blogger friend: I will tell you something that happened to me, and ask how you would handle the situation. Tomorrow I'll tell you how I handled it.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a 35-year-old single woman, and an age-appropriate, decent looking man with a good-enough profile (seems nice enough, is educated and employed, nothing blatantly wrong) contacts you. You exchange a few emails and agree to meet the next time he comes to Israel.



In the course of these exchanges, he mentions that in his trips to the holy land, he stays in a certain town quite a distance away from you (details withheld to protect the innocent) rather than in Jerusalem (where most Orthodox tourists usually base themselves, unless there is a specific reason to be somewhere else). You ask why.

Among other reasons, including knowing people in Town X, he says

Though I love Jerusalem, staying in hotels there is not pleasant as there are too many Arabs working in them. In the hotels I stayed in Town X, I did not find that to be the case.

What is your reaction?

I'm interested in hearing what my readers think about this, and am conducting a bit of an experiment. Please share your opinion in the comments, and please include where you live and how you would "label" yourself politically vis-a-vis Israel. Thanks!



Now imagine that in the same email, he has the following questions for you:

Would you feel fulfilled as a housewife and full-time mother? Would you wish to work away from home, while leaving your children in the care of others?

I'd like to hear from readers, especially female ones, what your answer would be. If you don't mind, include your age and whether you have kids (and if so, how many hours a week you leave your kids in the care of others, if you do).


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What I've been up to

1- I was in America for 3 terrific, whirlwind weeks. First, I stopped in Manhattan for 2 nights and did some shopping. Then I spent a night in Brooklyn with my parents and sister (who all had traveled in) and we went to my cousin's wedding, which was lots of fun. Then I spent a night at a nice hotel with my sister, just the two of us -- nice sister bonding time. We flew together to San Jose, where she lives, and I spent a week playing with my nephews. Then I spent a week in Cleveland with my parents. From Cleveland, I got a ride to Pittsburgh, where I went to the wedding of a former roommate. After the wedding, I got a ride as far as Elizabeth, New Jersey, where I spent the night before getting rides (2, in segments) to Teaneck to have breakfast with my buddy Judah. From Teaneck, it was back to Manhattan, where I hung out with a couple of friends and spent another night. Finally, back to Israel! Whew.

FYI, British Airways is a great airline. The service and comfort was akin to that on Swiss, but the kosher food was better, and on some of the planes you can start and stop your movies whenever you wanted. BA is my new favorite airline.

JetBlue sucks.

2- Working out almost every day. Feels good.

3- Writing, a little. Not as much as I should be. It's hard to get back into the groove.

4- Re-reading Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, which totals many thousands of pages. I'm in the middle of book four at the moment.

5- Trying to stay cool. We just got through a long heat wave. It was terrible. It was, as I emailed to many friends, TOO HOT TO LIVE.

6- Yesterday I went to the socioeconomically disadvantaged desert towns of Dimona and Yerucham to cover a story. I thought it would be TOO HOT and really depressing, but it wasn't too bad. I met lots of nice people and got out of the house (and got what I needed for the article I was working on). Thank God, it turned out that the people I needed to see were in air-conditioned buildings.

7- Watching my roommate do beadwork. Liza has a huge collection of little tiny beads, and just finished making a purse -- done up almost entirely out of beadwork -- for a friend of hers. Now she's making me a bracelet for my birthday, which is on August 18. Beadwork is something I don't know how to do, and wouldn't have patience for if I knew, so it's neat to see these beautiful things being made bit by itsy bit.

8- I recently learned to play Minesweeper, and within days had completed a game at Expert level. Now I have gone back to Intermediate and am trying to get ever-lower times. See number 3, above.

9- Trying to get back into blogging, see?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

5 Stages in 5 Years: Checking in on my Aliyah Anniversary

This post is in honor of Leah G.

A couple of weeks ago was the 5th anniversary of my Aliyah. This is an important milestone because, according to popular wisdom, an American who manages to make their immigration to Israel work for 5 years is likely to stay for good, as they intended to.

Back when I first filed an application for immigration with the Jewish Agency in New York, I attended a seminar there in which they described the "Five Stages of Aliyah." They predicted that it would take a few years to get through all the stages, and indeed they were correct: I have definitely experienced at least four of them, and am working on the fifth. They also said that many of the stages will overlap, wax and wane, which has been true as well. The stages are:

1- Euphoria. This is the feeling of utter joy and fulfillment one experiences when realizing that one is living one's dream in the Holy Land. The Jewish Agency rep quipped, "This stage lasts for one . . . maybe two . . . minutes." I still feel it sometimes, especially when I'm walking somewhere in Jerusalem with a beautiful view, and I feel very alive and free and rooted in my new home. I also feel it at holiday times, and when I pick up hot kosher food in the middle of "nowhere," and when I see mezuzot on government buildings.

A friend of mine said "I'm upset because I don't feel the holiness as much as I used to." I answered: "You don't notice it as much because you've become part of it." Yet, once in a while, one still can step back and appreciate it. I live in Israel.

2- Panic. I actually don't remember what the second stage is, officially, but I think it was something like panic because I remember them giving the example -- so true -- that you will experience this the first time you go to the supermarket and start crying in the cheese section because you don't recognize any of the food items. Panic is what happens when you realize that you don't know what you are supposed to do to solve a problem, how to solve it, whom to speak to, or why Israelis act the way they do. Furthermore, you couldn't ask even if you did know where to go, because you don't speak the national language. You are deeply screwed, and you know it.

Panic happens less and less as time goes on, but will crop up now and again when one goes into a new situation, such as moving or buying an apartment. Urgh.

3- Depression. I think this is what my friend was feeling when she complained that she didn't notice the holiness anymore. "If it's all so hard, and I don't feel much euphoria, then why am I here? Why isn't it turning out like I thought?" . . . I personally never really got depressed about my aliyah, or ever doubted the decision. I've been depressed about other things though, and being in an unfamiliar culture doesn't help.

4- Adaptation is what occurs slowly over time, as one figures out, for example, what all the different cheeses are, and who at the bank speaks English, and how to read one's electricity bill. It's the feeling of "I don't really fit in with the natives much, but I can manage my life and do what needs to be done. There is no more panic happening." Thank God, I got into this stage pretty fast, probably because my Hebrew was already pretty good when I arrived and I live in an area with a lot of English-speakers. It's where most immigrants spend most of their lives, I understand.

But the pot of gold at the end of the absorption rainbow is . . .

5- Acculturation. The Jewish Agency person said "This is when you go to America for a visit and wonder why the Americans act that way."

I have a hard time believing I'll ever get there, but who knows? It's only been five years.