Monday, May 4, 2009

We have bought tickets

Just after I posted the last blog post Nate and I found a great deal on tickets. We come in on June 24th and will be living in Teaneck, NJ, by my cousins the Goldfishers, until August 24th. Nate will be working at Camp Shalom in Passaic, NJ, as a summer camp counselor and a learning Rebbi, and my plans...well are still in the planning stages. BUT, hopefully they will be in the confirmations stage by the end of this week.

Army service: As we explained before Nate went in to the army office for his first meeting, which was inconclusive. He has a second meeting scheduled for this upcoming Sunday. We are hoping to get him excused, but we have started to formulate a backup plan if we cannot, the details of which I do not want to share quite yet, for the sake of the people involved (don't worry it is legal).

Moving back the U.S.: Nate and I have a meeting today at Nefesh B'Nefesh to discuss what will happen if we move back, in terms of finances, since they helped us move here officially. They have the right to require we pay back every bit of assistance they provided, since the contract we signed when they gave us the assistance states that if we move back to the U.S. within three years of our making aliyah (not of our moving here) we may be required to pay back the grant, unless we can prove there is a need to move back. Today, we hope to prove that need.

Life in Israel: Over the past week we have had the opportunity to celebrate Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut in Israel. These "holidays" (I use quotation marks for Yom HaZikaron, because it is a memorial day, and not for Yom Haatzmaut) are an entirely different experience here then they have ever been in America. They hold so much meening, and pride among the Jewish people here. I can only hope that after moving back to the U.S. Nate and I will find a way to continue to make them meeningful in our lives, and G-d willing one day, in the lives of the children that we will hopefully have. Yom HaZikaron, or Memorial Day, is not just another day for sales and BBQ's. It is actually a day to remember those who lost their lives in service of their country. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in this country, makes their way to the cemetaries. Streets are closed, and vendors are selling flowers on the streets. Nate and I did the same, both as part of a trip with the boys from the Yeshiva, and as a personal visit. We went to Har Herzl, the national IDF cemetary. We listened to the speaches by the prime minister and by other dignitaries and we cried with the kaddish of a father whose son died in the most recent war in Gaza. Afterwards Nate and I made our way to visit the grave of Mike Levin as we have done so many times before. We had a special treet in that Mike's mom was in visiting and we were able to spend some time with her.

The switch from this day to Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day, which takes place roughly around 7pm, is almost magical. You go from a country in complete mourning to a country in complete celebration. The official sign in Israel of the begining of Yom Hazikaron is a siren to cause people to stop and take a minute to remember. The sign, however, for the the begining of Yom Haatzmaut is fireworks. Every city has a huge party sponsored by the city counsel. And there is a joke that the Rabbis have made a decree that you must have a BBQ on Yom Haaztmaut. The truth is most people take that "decree" pretty seriously. No stores are open on Yom Haaztmaut, and I mean no stores- not even the grocery store. The day is filled with celebrations and people doing hikes and just enjoying being in Israel. Also, on this day, is the official Tanach Bee- that is right. Every year on Yom Haaztmaut, Israel sponsors a world-wide Tanach bee (like a speling bee but with Bible). It was quite amazing, and I was quite impressed with the American who came in third place. A bit different then your 4th of July (not that America is not special in its own way).

We look forward to a very joyful Lag Ba'omer next week, and of course my, not so celebrated, midterms. Hope all are well!

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