8:29pm: Again I could not sleep. I can’t figure out if it’s jet lag or some other reason. So I woke up at 2 am again and could not sleep. So at 5:30/6 I went for a walk. This time I visited the beach and it was beautiful. I got to explore a different neighborhood. More important I’m beginning to figure out where I am. One of my new routines, which actually is kind of an old routine that I haven’t done in 8-9 months, is to get up and walk 5 miles (today was 4.45 miles), come home, shower, drink tea and eat. I have about an hour to go before I need to catch the bus to head over to Jerusalem. I do feel a little tired but that’s probably from lack of sleep.
10:38 am: I’m on bus 480 on my way to Jerusalem. I am so proud that I navigated getting on the first bus, bus 18 about a block away form my friends house, and then was able to follow moovit while the buss moved along to the new central bus station in Tel Aviv. Once there I was super overwhelmed so I asked a very handsome dark skinned Israeli guard where the bus to jerusalem was.
“א׳פה אוטובןס ב׳רשל׳ם?”
And you know what? He answered me in English and told me where to go lol. I keep thinking my accent must have been horrible. So then I get to the bus and the last person gets on and he shuts the door without me. I didn’t freak out but I was confused. I bought my ticket and then the next bus came immediately so I guess the other bus was late, I don’t know. So I successful get on the bus with all my crap and as I’m walking down the aisle I feel a tug. Of course my earbuds get caught in the seat. I’m trying to get them out and the line to get on builds. A nice gentleman attempts to help me but he can’t get them either. He gives up and keeps walking. I put myself down, go to the seat and after what seems like an eternity I get them out. So I’m sitting here comfortable on the bus on my way to my new home city and I’m feeling excited and happy. I can’t believe I’m really doing this. I mean the first time I went to Israel I was not daring. I didn’t really do anything alone other than walking around. I never braved public transportation or encounters with day to day people. I was feeling self conscious about not knowing. Not knowing the language and not knowing how things work. Now I’m embracing the not knowing and its not so bad. People can tell I’m not from here and they have been very helpful…or maybe this is how people are here in general.
4:17: I’m on my way back to Tel Aviv. I enjoyed my day overall in Jerusalem. I arrived at the central bus station and I walked to Nefesh B’Nefesh which is in the Giyat Shaul Neighborhood. The area is Orthodox/Ultra Orthodox. I saw women and girls in skirts, usually black, that went past their knees. I saw men with black hats, black jackets and the side curls (sorry I can’t remember what they are called). I saw fathers walking with their daughters to school and I saw others walking with their sons. I saw kids walking alone together. The neighborhood, which seemed so big to me felt like a place where everyone knew each other. Even though I am not apart of the orthodox community I liked the way they all seemed to coalesce around each other.
I arrived at Nefesh B’Nefesh early. I waited until my advisor was ready. It was nice to meet her in person, not at all what I thought she would be like. She is very tough, I don’t know if she is from NY but she strikes me as a New Yorker. She asked me about my story and I shared. She asked me about my plan and what I’ve been doing here (mind you it’s still day 2). Well she did make me feel like I’ve been wasting my time since being here by asking me who I have been meeting with and what I have planned. She stressed the importance of me getting an apartment as added measure for my file to be pushed through and for me to make the flight on December 27. She said they would be more likely to push for it and for it to go through if I had a place to live. When I mentioned that I had people I would stay with plus airbnb she made this sound like it wasn’t enough.
NOTE TO POTENTIAL OLIM: secure an apartment if you can
So after we talked a little about job stuff and she went over my benefits. The meeting last about 30 minutes. Then I met with the employment coordinator and she talked fast and had some nice suggestions for me to get started with employment. she then told me to email her my CV.
Afterwards I walked to meet an acquaintace/friend for lunch. He so sweetly offered to pay for my lunch and we had Mexican food (which was good). I want to say that while I walked form NBN to this meeting I felt stressed and pressured about finding an apartment and a job. I literally was lining up a job before finding an apartment. She made that sound like a bad choice and that I needed to focus more on learning Hebrew at Ulpan (5 hours a day, 5 days a week). So prior to meeting someone posted on a group that she and a friend were looking for a roommate in the German Colony area, which I really like. I reached out but again because of Autumn it will be a challenge. I feel hopeful about this but I have to keep searching.
Back to lunch. Lunch was really nice. I talked about the meeting and it was nice to have my fears assuaged. “Why do you need an apartment first?” he asked. I explain what she had said to me and he just shook his head as if confused. I was confused also. He gave me some helpful information about job hunting too. In Israel it’s really about who you know. CV’s/Resumes and Cover Letters don’t get you the job it’s who you know. So I’m right on the money with all the connections I’m making with people which feels genuine. He also shared that he dropped out of Ulpan because of the 5 hours a day, 5 days a week which is my biggest gripe and why night classes sounded good to me. Furthermore he will continue to connect me with people who might be able to help me with the early childhood education piece.
So as I sit on the bus back to Tel Aviv I feel a lot better than I did before. I know that NBN wants us to be realistic about our plans formatting aliyah but they are not very good with connecting. They don’t offer you a job or a jobs program. They don’t find you an apartment. Literally they feel like a huge resume database which is helpful and useful when you understand that, that’s the purpose.
What aliyah has taught me is that I’m literally starting over. I knew this but I mean everything is different. It’s forcing me to think about things like I never would have before. I mean getting a job means sending off your resume and CV. exceptreallyr it’s not like that here. Telling people hey I’m looking for a job in this field help-and people will connect you. In the states you might feel “too proud” to ask for help and what I’m learning about in Israeli culture and what my lunch friend shared with me today is that you can’t be afraid to ask for help. People in Israel love to help. I keep forgetting that making aliyah is a huge deal here in Israel. Our ancestors came to Israel way back many generations ago. We were then dispersed due to varies wars and when the founders of the current state of Israel came together to make it happen they wanted us to be connected to our ancestral homeland. Israel is the only country, that I know, that has the Law of Return. That is what aliyah is. The Law of Return says any jew living outside of Israel can immigrate to Israel and be a citizen. It’s like we are continuously building on this wonderful legacy and I am so happy I will be apart of it.
As an aside I’ve spent time in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and I have seen a lot of brown skinned individuals. Whiter its my fellow African Americans or Africans from the continent but also Asian and south east asian individuals. I can see how in these places Israel is becoming more and more diverse. Just another perk…this and kosher meat