The First (of many) High Holy Days in the Holy Land

The high holy days are my favorite time of year.  I’m celebrating them for the first time in Israel and they seemed to occur as the weather began to change. Night is coming sooner. There is now an evening and a morning breeze where in the summer it was just hot hot hot all day long. 

As I reflected this past Yom Kippur I am grateful for my journey, my first nine months in Israel, my home. The first few months were an easy adjustment for me. Filled with awe and wonder as I got to know my new home. I was happy daily and felt I had little worries. As time moved on of course, the worries came. The anxiety and the self doubt about my business and about money became paramount. The goals I set for myself were cast aside as survival became imminent. But as Yom Kippur came, I reflected on the beauty of the whole journey. 

On my journey I have met and created my wonderful JOC family…fellow Jews of color who made aliyah from the states who live from Jerusalem to Hadera. My family who has welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. Who give me sage advice and support when I need it. From the gan I work at which gave me my first job and has allowed me to learn something new but has also introduced me to some wonderful moms who’ve become my friends.  From the family who first took me in when I first arrived, giving me love and support even though times were not easy for me or them. From the other therapists here I’ve connected with and become friends with. From my good friend of over a decade and her wonderful husband who I love dearly. Then of course theres my loved ones back in the states who know me inside out and even with a 10 hour time difference I can still count on them. 

One of the most amazing things I saw on Yom Kippur was how the country shut down. Kids were riding their bikes and scooters in the streets and on the freeway. People were walking around in white or sitting outside enjoying each others company. There was a quiet in my neighborhood were all I heard was the birds chirping. Because I was so swamped and in survival mode I didn’t even think I would fast because I had not prepared until a couple hours before Yom Kippur was to begin. 

Yet, as I fasted, I noticed that this was the easiest fast I have ever had for Yom Kippur. Normally I have headaches and I start to count down the time when I will be able to eat a couple times throughout the day, yet that did not exist this year.

As I sat and caught up on some much needed rest and reading I reflected on all that I had achieved the past year and what I let go to my detriment. That is the beauty for me of this time of year. Yes of course we repent and ask for forgiveness of our sins. But for me this time of year has always been more than that. Its about being reconnected to G-d and reconnected with our souls and spirituality. I realized that I lost a little bit of that in the chaos (for lack of a better word) of making aliyah and adjusting.

Even though I’m still adjusting I cannot let life pass me by. I cannot allow goals to be unchecked and I must make my priorities a priority again, even if that means saying “no” to other opportunities, which don’t support my goals. This is my first experience of the high holy days in Israel and it reminded me of the connection I felt back in 2015 when I visited for the first time.There are no words for the feelings of feeling at home, but watching the country shut down and realizing I’m amongst my larger family celebrating in our own ways was beautiful. This is my home and I love it. Now it’s time to make all those dreams I had before I made a aliyah a reality.

Roommates

 

picHad such a cool revelation over the high holy days, one that was unexpected. I came to the realization that I wanted to live with roommates when I make aliyah. This surprised me as I had roommates once in college and did not like it. I have been wanting my own apartment and to live alone for years now, but the bay area is freakin expensive. I know that I probably could find a way to find my own apartment and live on my own, but there is something about wanting to connect with people and save money which has lead me to wanting roommates. My preference would be to join an all ready existing apartment, with at least two other people, that way I don’t have to worry. 

The cool thing about having roommates is that I don’t have to worry about moving furniture. I just want to find a place that has an unfurnished bedroom. I am looking forward to furniture shopping and adjusting with my Autumn. 

So now I must buy a couple large duffle bags to hold my stuff because I’m not taking a lift. I’m happy about that since most of my stuff is old and a hot mess any way. So here is my new list:

  • sheets
  • blankets, especially my throws
  • my comforter
  • all my therapy toys and art
  • most of my DVD’s
  • my gaming computer and sims 3
  • curtains
  • Autumn’s supplies
  • clothes
  • shoes
  • my mugs
  • my copper pans and pots
  • my map of the world and my map of Israel
  • knitting supplies
  • all my bath and body works products

So my hope for my new apartment in Jerusalem is that I can get a master bedroom, with a bathroom and a balcony (Yup I’m such an american). I really can’t fathom having to share a bathroom and having a balcony for me and Autumn to use sounds awesome. 

Now Autumn and I have never had a roommate before so I’m nervous about how that all works. I love my Autumn but she’s naughty. She likes to steal food, She will run away if given a chance (well really she’s just curious and likes to explore), she climbs on furniture and plays in the dirt, she can be noisy sometimes, barking if your eating and not sharing or crying when you leave her, sometimes she has tummy issues which means getting up in the middle of the night so she can relieve herself. These are all concerns I have about rooming with my Autumn. 

Other concerns are with regards to sharing stuff like food. How do people coordinate shopping? Or what about cleaning up-I know I’m clean but what if my roommates are dirty or not similar to me in their cleanliness? I envision cockroaches and ants, which make me want to vomit. What about parties or generally people wanting to talk to me when I’m trying to relax. 

But then there are the good things. Rent is cheaper. There are people to talk to.  If there is another dog there then autumn can make a new friend. Shared bills. New friends and the potential for romantic partnerships.  Shabbat dinners. Evenings out. Meeting new people. Practicing Hebrew and learning about different cultures. Did I mention saving money because everything is shared? 

So thats my realization that made me feel happy and like I have something to look forward to. More important it’s something to add to the blogging life of my aliyah.

Pesach

This past Friday, April 22, 2016, began the first night of Pesach (passover). I went to a seder with a friend, well more like an aunt or mother figure not friend per say. It was my 2nd or 3rd seder with her and it was great. Even though it last until 12:30 (it started at 7) I always enjoy the company and the history, here family history. I love the tradition of it all. The second night was spent amongst friends. This was my first seder with this friend since joining the Netivot Shalom community about 3 years ago. This second night seder I was surrounded by my friends who I’ve known now for 3 years. It dawned on me that this could potentially be my last seder here in the states for some time. I’m planning to make aliyah this December (initially it was January of 2017 but I am adamant that I arrive before my 33rd birthday). The experience was bitter sweet. I had a lot of fun, lots of laughs. I knew most of the people, I felt safe and secure with these people. I knew the songs and prayers and even fell deeply in love in with some new Pesach (passover) foods. 

Next year in Jerusalem, is how we end our seders, and next year I will be in Jerusalem (well most likely Tel Aviv but I’ll be home) and it will be with a new community. A community of people who I may ore may not know prior. I know two people in Tel Aviv, one is a good friend and the other is my rabbi’s sister. One who is not particularly religious and the other I don’t know. In my current community we are apartment of the conservative (Masorti) movement and I love it. It’s home. In Israel people tend to be either religious or secular. I’ve spent seders with people who are not particularly religious. The seder is mostly in English and the people involved don’t seem to be particularly involved with he experience but rather just going through the motions. I don’t want to experience just going through the motions. I want to spend next Pesach (passover) surrounded by friends. I want to sing the songs and wait hours for food. I want to feel connected to my history and my people like I did this Pesach (passover).