Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"You're an Israeli wife"

No, I'm not married, don't worry. I didn't, you know, date, get engaged and married in the past 5 days and manage to keep it all a secret.
I am dating someone, though, whose identity shall remain anonymous right now because I don't know if he is comfortable with blogging. We will call him B, since he is the second guy that I've dated since I made aliyah (and there is a "B" in his name). He is also an oleh, but he's been here for a while, and most of his immediate family made aliyah as well. We met a few months ago, but we only started dating about a month ago-- and, yes, I have been in the States for 3 of those weeks. We saw each other...well, when we started dating, and haven't seen each other since. Why? Because B is in the army, and the army didn't let him out the Shabbat before I left.
I told my adopted sister (for those of you who are just coming in now, my adopted family is awesome. My dad grew up with the mom, and our families have always been close-- they have always been like an aunt and uncle and the kids were like cousins) that I was dating someone and he's in the army. And she responded with the subject line.
Not quite a wife-- we're dating, not married, but this is a big part of Israeli culture. Army and the army life. I'm learning a lot about the army and the stupidity and the good that happens there. The 7-hour time difference is actually working because he's up at random hours coming off of shmira, or when I'm going to sleep he's just getting up, and when I get up he's sometimes waiting around for something or to go somewhere. So we make it work. But I'm learning that the army has a time schedule of its own. Just because you're supposed to go on shmira at 9 pm doesn't mean it's always going to happen; you might get switched, something might come up, they might call you to do something else. But the army is also respectful of religion (he is not in a Hesder unit (type of service that combines studying in a Yeshiva with army service))-- after one of the fast days there was a masa (yes, stupid and not so respectful there...). Normally all the soldiers would go, but the soldiers who fasted were excused-- they did shmira, I think. Or something else. And after the fast, the army served a huge meal with meat and chicken and...lots of stuff. And on the other fast day, he was excused from his patrols.
It's so strange and wonderful to me that even though he is in the army and we don't get to see each other much and won't get to see each other as often as we would like even when I'm back, right now he gets out every other weekend for 3 days-- Thursday, Friday, and Shabbat, aka "chamshu"sh (chamishi-shishi-shabbat)," and I know that those are times I can count on to see him (unless something comes up). If I was dating someone in the American army, I could easily not see him in-person for months at a time. I'm learning. Slowly, but I'm learning.

The non-army long-distance stuff-- it's annoying because we don't get to see each other much-- and when we do it's using Oovoo (like Skype, only better because you can have more people video conferencing in and you can send video messages). But it's something. Three years ago it wouldn't have been this easy. I also just got this service called Spikko, which gave me an Israeli number than B can call me on. Our phone bills are going to be huge, but this should make it a bit less, at least from his end. It's also different than a "regular" relationship because you're not physically with each other and you aren't going out on dates or spending time doing things together. We talk. A lot. And we play games over the phone-- Jotto, Battleship, Ghost (any other suggestions, please let me know! But not chess, because we already know about that). It's definitely harder than a normal relationship, and his army schedule in some ways makes it easier to talk, and in some ways makes it harder. But it's good.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tisha B'Av

Tisha B'Av is a Jewish day of mourning, the culmination of The Three Weeks and The Nine Days-- the day that the both the First and Second Temples were destroyed (the First by Vevuchadnezzar in 423 BCE, and the Second in 70 CE by the Romans). But it's more than that-- Tisha B'Av is a VERY BAD DAY for the Jewish people. This is also the day that the Jews in the desert accepted the negative report about Eretz Yisrael from the meraglim (the spies); The Bar Kochva revolt was crushed by Hadrian (Roman Emperor), and Betar (city of the Jews "last stand") was captured and liquidated in 135 CE; the Beit Hamikdash and the area around it were razed by Turnus Rufus, and Jerusam was rebuilt as a pagan city and Jews were not allowed in; The Jews were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition on 1492; WWI broke out in 1941 on Erev Tisha B'Av (the eve of Tisha B'Av); The mass deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka began on Tisha B'Av in 1942.

There are a lot of differences between Tisha B'Av and every other day. For starters, the two "big" fasts in the Jewish calendar are Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av-- there are a lot of superficial prohibitions, but they are very, very different days. Tisha B'Av is a day of mourning, so in addition to fasting, we refrain from doing things similar to one who is in mourning. We sit on low chairs, we do not anointing for pleasure (for example, putting on perfume to smell good); washing (other than for hygiene purposes), having marital relations, wearing leather shoes, learning Torah (other than Tisha B'Av and mourning-related topics). There are more, but this is not, not is it meant to be, a halacha blog or entry. Go to Aish.com here or to OU.org here to learn more about the halachot (laws) and customs and practices of Tisha B'Av.

I'm trying to figure out how to actually mourn for the Beit Hamikdash. I don't know if I'm doing it right, I don't really know how I feel and...what...everything about it. I've never experienced the Beit Hamikdash, but I've been to the Kotel. I wish I was there now. I also wish I could cry about it. I feel like I want to, but I'm not, I don't feel...comfortable crying here. I think I need to be at the Kotel and in Israel for this one. My first Tisha B'av in Israel and I'm in New York.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Coming to America...

I'm back. I've been back since Monday morning, and since then I've been struck by a lot of things. The most recent is today-- how different it feels than in Israel. Today is Friday, erev Shabbat. It doesn't feel like erev Shabbat, except for the fact that we are doing preparations at home. People are at work past 12 or 2 pm, the buses and subways will be running tomorrow-- note the changes on the MTA website.

Sunday is a day off. I am excited for that.

When I got off the plane, the first thing that hit me was the signs in Spanish. Welcome to America. Then when I walked outside, the ground was different-- the pavement itself, the way the sidewalks looked. The different types of people, so many...and most of the black people that I saw weren't Ethiopian and the women didn't have tattoos on their faces and necks.

I was walking on 7th Avenue-- and couldn't eat in any of the places I passed. Granted, it's like that in many places outside of Jerusalem especially, but it's not that bad in general. We're not talking about nice places-- even just a falafel or bagel place.

I'm ready to come home. I love that my family is here, and I can actually make a decent salary...but I don't feel comfortable. It's just enough out of alignment that I feel it. It's not that I don't speak the language or don't remember the culture. But it feels like I have a wall surrounding me that I'm not really a New Yorker so much as a Jerusalemite. And yet in Israel, I'm still from NY and always will be.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


I'm going back to NY in a few hours-- leaving in about 45 minutes to an hour, to be specific.

When I go this time, I'm going back on my teufat ma'avar-- my temporary Israeli passport-- and coming in on my American passport. And when I leave I'm going to leave on my American passport and come in on my teudat ma'avar. Confusing.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm mostly annoyed that I can't find this little red jewelry case-- it's about 1" x 1.5", so you can imagine that it's quite easy to lose. The frustrating thing is that I had it with some cards...and I have the cards. And the case is nowhere to be found. I looked in (read: emptied) the suitcases, shook out the clothes that were there, looked under the table near where I packed, emptied the backpacks...and nothing. Which is very frustrating and annoying. It had my name necklaces in it and some earrings... :(

I'm excited to see everyone. Tomorrow I'm either going to be going out to Queens, or Queens people are coming to me.

Friday, July 2, 2010

4th of July

I forgot-- last night I went to a 4th of July party at the American Ambassador's house. More on it later, but b'kitzur-- it was a lot of fun.

There was a point in the ceremony when both The Star Spangled Banner (the American national anthem) and Hatikva (the Israeli national anthem) were sung. During The Star Spangled Banner only the singer (and maybe a few other people, but not many) sang. During Hatikva, there was an undercurrent of people singing. Not loud, but you definitely heard it. I was so proud of being Israeli at that moment-- our anthem is played --> we sing.

Last Shabbos (Shabbat) in Israel for 2 months

I was on the 13 bus today, passing Machane Yehuda when it hit me-- this is my last Shabbat here for 2 months. As the bus was going past I turned my head, to try to get in the sight of Machane Yehuda on erev Shabbos one more time, one last little bit. I know I'm coming back on August 31, and I really want to see everyone. But Israel is home, and I know that as long as I'm not here I'm going to miss it.

I'm not going into this trip with the idea that I'm not going to enjoy New York. I just know that I will miss Israel. I'm excited to see my family and friends and I really miss all of them. But every time I leave it's like I'm being ripped from my home and there's a part of me that feels incomplete when I'm not here. NY and Israel are both home. But Israel, being in the country itself, feels more right than being in NY.

Oh, it was was my half-year aliyahaniversary on June 30. Happy half-year to me and the other olim on the December 30, 2009 NBN flight! I'm still trying to figure out where these past 6 months went.