Day 9: Last Day

Today I was so hopeful. I was to see two apartments and have a meeting about a job at a mental health clinic in Jerusalem. Well it took forever for the bus to get from Tel aviv to Jerusalem, reinforcing the idea that I am not going to be commuting between the two for work. It’s crazy.
So the first apartment I saw in Rehavia was really cute and reminded me of my place in Berkeley. It was a stand alone cottage with it’s own backyard and locked gate. It was pretty big but the only probably was the damn bars on the windows. I really hate the bars on the window. Also weirdly enough it made me feel isolated and all alone. I don’t know why but that little place made me feel lonely.
The second place was in the German colony, which is one of my favorite places. It was not he first floor (not the ground floor but up a flight of stairs). Everything was new but it was a studio with an enclosed balcony. The windows were small as well. Therefore screens on the windows which I liked and no bars.
But neither places called me. I looked at two others in Nachlaot but they were definitely not me and not worth talking about.
As for the meeting at the clinic, it was in the heart of an Orthodox neighborhood. When I arrived it ws in this make shift apartment and pretty nice. The problem is that they were not really hiring for staff but there was an option to sublet. Part of the issues continues to be that I do not speak Hebrew.
I lef feeling completely defeated. I mean I knew that it would be hard to get a job as a therapist here in Israel without any Hebrew which is why I never really explored it. But there were all these people who we telling me about these clinics with English speakers and it rose my hopes. As I walked back to the bus I just felt like I couldn’t do this after all. I miss know what’s going on. I missed my degree having some type of value and weight. How can I enjoy Israel and create a life when I’m not ding what I love, which is therapy.
As I rode back to Tel Aviv I was on the verge of tears feeling like a huge failure. I did not get an apartment nor did I get job on this trip. More importantly I felt like there was nothing out there for a therapist.
As I sat with my feelings it dawned on me. This is why people don’t make aliyah and why we Americans will leave after some time. There is no support for us. Israel is very different from Israel in so man ways but I think there is this morning of our old lives that happens. We work so hard in college to get a degree and make a career. We slowly climb the career ladder and we find some stability. In the states we are multi dynamic…complex people. In Israel I was finding myself feeling one dimensional. During this trip I felt like I was forced into this binary option.I was not my complex self. Also because I was so focused on the two areas, finding job and finding an apartment, that my creativity left me. As I pulled into Tel Aviv I was just writing and writing. Coming up with ideas with how to help anglos here in Israel as well as to take the weight off my living arrangements by asking if I could stay someone for free until I find a job. My flight leaves in a couple hours and I no longer feel hopeless and like I can’t do this. Now it’s time to get to work.

Day 8

I went for a walk around Jerusalem this morning and I got to see the Talpiyot and Arnona neighborhoods. I really liked Talpiyot it reminded me of my childhood in the UC Berkeley Village. The apartments wont little parks and people with their children all around. I saw an apartment there that I really wanted but when I contacted the number listed the realtor said it was a 3 bedroom and had tow balconies. As nice as that would be it would definitely be too big. The cool thing was that he had a one bedroom in Rehavia available so I scheduled a time to see it tomorrow.
When I got on fb to continue to apartment hunt I received a message form someone I messaged about room mating with a while back. Well her message was short and curt and for some reason it ticked me off. I’ve had a couple people I reached out too for room mating because they had dogs and they were also looking. Then when I reach out they act funny. They say they found someone else (yet post again like 2 hours later that they are looking) or they say they don’t want to live with a dog, yet they have a dog. So it’s a good thing I decided not to go the roommate route because if it’s this annoying to find a roommate then it probably would not be good. Besides I like living alone.
I took the busied up to Beit Shemesh today to meet with two therapists who are here in Israel. On my way I was surrounded by Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox jews. Men in black suits and women with wigs and head scarves. It’s great that these people have found a home in Israel, thats really what having a Jewish state is a ll about. Any way up the mountain to Beit Shemesh was very pretty. It reminded me of parts of California outside the major cities. It was very clean nd cute. Very family oriented and filled with Anglos.
In meeting with the two different therapists in Beit Shemesh I learned a lot about the Israeli criminal justice with regards to perpetrators of child sexual abuse. As i talked I thought about how much I missed working with children and childhood trauma. How I missed talking with colleagues about their cases and different family dynamics. It’s been so long and yet it all came back to me. This meeting really reinforced my desire to work as a therapist here in Israel.
So tomorrow I have a meeting with the coordinator at a clinic here in Israel. I didn’t really think much of it when it was first arranged but now I’m ready to kill it. I’m ready to put my therapy skills to work here in Israel. The one thing that concerns me is the pay. I know how much I need to live on here in Israel and I’m a little afraid that the pay will not be enough. I have it in my mind to ask about salary and then see what would happen if I asked/demanded for more.

Day 7

Typically on shabbat I take a day from social media and electronics (except music). I woke up early in Jerusalem and I felt restless. I did my morning prayers as I didn’t research any synagogues to go to today. Besides I’m so warn out from introducing myself to people that I wasn’t in the mood.
So I took a walk. I am still on the hunt for an apartment. I was proud of myself as I walked thinking I knew where I was. I initially thought that I would forgo the gps but I used it to get back and yet I still ended up walking farther than I intended. As I walked I continued to think about how much I miss home and how easy it would be to stay. I mean I like driving places and well getting a job would be no problem. Making aliyah is truly hard.
But as I continued to walk I keep envisioning my future children walking down the street speaking Hebrew on our way to our synagogue or walking them to their gan. That’s what keeps me going. I realized that it really is important for me to bring as much of my stuff from home as possible. I didn’t want to spend the money on a lift but I see how practical this will be. Having that sense of comfort will make things easier.
Another thought I had was that in Israel the wages are a lot lower. I do wonder if this is so because people do not demand more or if it has to do with a language barrier (or of course a combination of both). Why is it that people with masters degrees make so little money here? Why do teachers only make about $2,500 a month here? As a therapist how much can I make? What would happen if I asked/demanded that I make a livable wage as a therapist here?

Day 6

It rained all night and all morning so far, Shabbat starts tonight at 4:30 or so and I am excited. I haven’t shabbat in the holy name since 2015. This is what I live for in Jerusalem.
I attempted to get up and walk today. Well first off it was cold as I don’t know what and those leggings were not the business. Secondly my legs really hurt from yesterday. So I returned, got back in the bed and sent off some messages while watching friends and tying to go back to bed.
My friend comes to get me and we walk to the Farmers Market. I was excited about the Farmers Market thinking it was huge like what we have n the bay. It wasn’t. It was small and not all that exciting, not to brave the rain.
We finished shopping and I returned and to back into bed. I love lay Fridays. So I’m here thinking about everything I have done and accomplished here. At first I was cranky about taking this Pilot Trip but I think it’s useful even if you are sure about making aliyah. So let me tell you what my Pilot Trip has helped me to do:
It’s helped me experience the day to day life as an Israeli. Waking up and going to appointments. Experiencing public transportation and getting lost because this is not my home. Needing to use my map for everything and needing to carry my external charger everywhere because I am not in my car where U can just plug my phone in while I go from place to place. Even with traffic there is something nice about having a car in the states, mostly it’s that nice warm heater on a cold day. Learning/Dealing with Traffic, the weather, the man on the bus saying something in Hebrew I don’t understand and turning to the person next to me and asking her what he said and having a Henglish (Hebrew + English) conversation.
Feeling utterly and completely exhausted at the end of the day. I mean just look at number one. I feel like on paper I have not done a lot. But when you have to leave at a certain time from your home then walk to the bus stop then wait for the bus then get on the bus then track where you are going on your phone because you can’t quite read or understand Hebrew, then get off the bus and try to map your location, while your friends trying to guide you and your in a new neighborhood with Ultra-Orthodox folks who make you just as nervous as the ultra religious Muslims who want to kill all jews because they are super fanatical in their devotion, then your phone battery is slowly losing it’s juice because it’s constantly roaming, and you still can’t orient yourself in time in space, and it’s freaking cold and/or raining, then at the end of a day you are completely tired in a whole new way. Theres no way to prepare for this type of tired-you literally have to experience it
My appetite. My appetite has been fucked! Sorry I’m tired and I’m not watching my language. Back home theres a certain routine to me eating. Also I am a picky eater. I like what I like and that’s all there is too it. Well I’m staying at folks houses and I have not one to the grocery store because they have food and I only cook once a week. My Tupperware is not here and pots are here and there and I’m not washing dishes. So I eat what is prepared by others or what’s in the fridge. Well there are multiple problems here. Theres the fact that they don’t have what I like. I’m staying with people who are health conscious. That is not me. The other is that I’m going from here and there all the time. Walking and Walking and Walking. I noticed yesterday something new about myself. After exercising I generally need some wind down time before my body signals hunger to my brain. So since I’ve been nonstop I haven’t felt really hungry so I haven’t really eaten. Today, lazy day, is the day I’ve noticed that I feel really hungry. But again I want some meat and there is no meat here. It’s raining so I’m not going to the burger spot. So I eat healthy and just wait for shabbat dinner tonight. It’s so interesting. I may just loose weight after all.
I have to live alone. I have been trying in vain this week and even before to connect with people who need roommates for me and Autumn. Well I have gotten very sparse responses so I take it as a sign that I will need to live alone. I still want a one bedroom but I’ll deal with a studio if need be. My budget max, not negotiable will be 3500 shekels/month. The good thing is that at least with my own place I can get the Arnona (property tax) discount for being a new Olia (Person making aliyah). Also I get the Sal Klita which is money from the government for moving. So yesterday I contacted some folks to see apartments but again my friend in Jerusalem will let me and Autumn stay with her for a minute so I’ll use her address plus there may be some leads-I have a couple more days.
I will keep my car. It will be very hard and there will be no money for fun, but that’s ok because comfort is ore of a priority in my old age (32 old ha!). I know I want to start a family in a few years and I cannot imagine trying to Schlep my babies in the rain on the bus. Nope! Plus I think that I will be full time private practice in a couple years and I’ll know the country better so I can add the home visits to my practice. Then I can see people all over. I love my Honda CR-V and I want the same car and it costs 244,000 shekels for my same car. Thats way more than I spent on it. Even to keep it an import it will be cheaper than buying new. So now I need to find a place to leave her.
I want to live in Jerusalem. That was solidified. As much as I love the German Colony/Baka area I feel like Nachlaot and the surrounding areas will be good for me. Theres a dog park and people my age there. The shut is right there and I love the shuk. Its close to the central bus station so visiting Tel Aviv is easier. But mostly as long as I’m in Jerusalem I’ll be happy.
I really like speaking Hebrew and I am proud of myself that I am starting to think of sentences in Hebrew. I do wish that I knewmyre words so I will focus on building vocabulary. I think my accent is hilarious and I’m ok with people correcting me. I keep envisioning my little babies speaking Hebrew and making fun of my horrible accent but I will keep at it.
It’s stupid to commute from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv via public transportation for me. It wont work and I’ll be miserable. It’s better that I stay in Jerusalem since eI want to make it my home.
Get out of my comfort zone. Ask for help. say what I need. Be ok with yes and no.
I still think aliyah is good for me. One of the things that dawned on me as why it may feel really hard this week is because I’m not home. I miss my doggy! I miss my bed. I miss my heater. I miss my movies and crappy tv. I miss video games and computer games. I miss my heater (wait did I say that twice?…Yeah I miss curling up in bed blanket next t the heater. I miss walking around without pants. I miss my slippers. I miss carpet. I miss the foods I like. I miss having my own quiet space and not worrying about others. I miss cooking the foods I like (I really want some fried chicken right now). I miss my seasonings. I miss blasting my music. So I make aliyah and I bring these things. I buy a nice space heater so I can snuggle up in front of it. I’ll pack my flannel sheets and comforter (Jerusalem is cold and awesome). Autumn will come and hate the rain but we can snuggle. I will introduce her to other doggy friends.
So that’s what I learned on this trip so far. Even though my advisor might not think much of what I’ve done, I’ve done and learned a lot and I am proud of myself. I have all ready made friends and connections. As of today I have a meeting for a job at a mental health clinic on Monday and I’m so hoping that it pays something decent. I really want to work at a gan (nursery or pre-school) during the mornings and practice in the afternoon and evenings. I hope to look at some apartments on Sunday and Monday before leaving Tuesday. That’s it in a nutshell. See you in 25 hours.
Shabbat Shalom!

Day 4 & 5

I had to combine days because too much happened and I am utterly exhausted. Yesterday (Day 4) I went to Herzliya to visit a friends. It was a little cloudy and gray. It was difficult because I was going from my friends house in Tel Aviv to a new trends home in Jerusalem. So I was carrying my backpack, a bag and my purse lol. Herzlia is a cute little town and very family oriented. It’s about 30 minutes by bus from Tel Aviv. I met up with my friend and she gave me two of her duffle bags which her family used when they made aliyah.
After I head ed to Jerusalem. I had to stop off at the bus station in Tel Aviv and transfer buses. With traffic it took forever, like an hour and a half instead of 45 minutes. I then caught another bus to the Baka neighborhood in Jerusalem. It’s a neighborhood filled with anglos and very expensive. When I was here back in 2015 I stayed in the German Colony which is right next to Baka. I really like the neighborhood. This area is definitely my favorite part of Jerusalem.
Unfortunately I got off at the wrong bus stop so my friend had to come get me. While I waited for her to get me a taxi driver stops in front of me and is tying to take me to my location. I was like “no I’m waiting for a friend”. He’s all pushy saying he will take me to my friend. “do you have her number we call her and tell her”. Mind you cars are piling up. It’s like no dude no.
We then walked about a mile to her apartment and I get settled in. I left my friends apartment in Tel Aviv at 10 in the morning and didn’t get to my new apartment Jerusalem until after 8. I was so tired.

Day 5
It was a beautiful morning in my future home city. Got up and went for a walk. I had intentions of scouring the neighborhoods for apartments while only walking five miles. I found some cute places, took some pictures and had plans to contact them. Well I ended up getting lost in East Jerusalem, in a majority Arab neighborhood. I realized I was somewhere else when the signs switched from Hebrew, Arabic, and English (English spellings rather than the Arabic or Hebrew Scripts) to all Arabic. I have to say I felt really unsettled. I only had one old man stare me down otherwise no one paid any attention to me. they probably figured I was a lost tourist. In truth I really didn’t like how unsettled I felt being there. I mean there is so much negativity about Arabs and muslims that I hear all the time thatI guess it infiltrated my psyche. Once I noticed how I was feeling I adjusted and just walked trying to make sure I looked modest (I mean leggings and a sweatshirt but it was hot so I didn’t want to walk around in the tank top I had underneath). I also decided that I will make sure to make a point to have friend who are Arab and muslim when i mae aliyah to learn more and not have that fear that they will do something to me because of all the propaganda I hear.
So I walked a massive hill (which turned out to be the wrong way again) and finally managed to get back to the apartment. For the last hour of the walk I only had 13 % on my phone which was kind of nerve wracking. The walk in total was 9.17 miles.
I came back, ate a little breakfast then I was off to a therapist networking meeting in Ramot. By bus it took an hour to get up there. The area is filled with Ultra-orthodox individuals, which i did not know, so I felt super uncomfortable in my purple sweater and blue jeans while I’m surrounded by girls in one black skirts and men in black pants, jackets and top hats. I didn’t get too many dirty looks which was nice.
The meeting went very nice, with the creator of Get Help Israel. she offered such wonderful advice and suggestions. She recommended that I get a car here especially if I wanted to continue with doing therapeutic home visits, noting how unreliable public transportation can be. I’m not even sure it’s something I would do here, I hadn’t really thought about it.
So I took the hour ride back to Baka and missed the rain. I rested for about 45 minutes before having to get back on the bus, this time in the rain, to travel up to Givat Ze’ev. Well this was a nightmare. First off a 25 bus ride took almost 2 hours because of the rain. It was freezing up on top of that mountain and the person gave me the wrong address and wouldn’t respond to my texts until I was all ready lost and confused with 17% left on my phone. Then because it all took so long I was flat out tired and I was not my sunny self. We settled and were able to talk and I played with her cute baby which was nice. the soupI had was amazing too. The best part was that she asked her friend to give me a ride back to Baka so I got back in a decent amount of time and very warm.
So to say that those two days were less than ideal is an under statement. So far the trip has been going really well and I am happy. Happy for my choice, but I cannot lie that my life in Berkeley is so much easier. I have a car. I had a job and can easily get a new one if I so desire. I have friends and family there. I know how things work. I can be lazy and not entertain. Really I miss having a car, especially when it’s raining and cold. I also miss the certainty. Right now i have no job nor do I have my own place. I make aliyah and I’ll be staying with a friend for a minute. This can be nice but I’d prefer my own place and that has not happened yet. So for the first time since I arrived I am questioning whether this is right or not. Is love for the jewish homeland enough for me to leave the comforts of my current life for a life filled with the unknown?

Day 3

11:17 am: Last night I fell asleep at 7:30 and woke up at 11:30. The apartment was quiet so I got some tea, ate left over French fries and called my mother. It was a nice talk and I’m glad I was able to do it. I went to sleep around 2:30/3 and I woke up to some type of noise around 5:45. I went for a walk and got lost in the city so instead of walking five miles I waked 5.40 miles. 

Upon my arrival back to the apartment I checked fb-there were 5 messages. One was for the job in the Tel Aviv area teaching English after school. She seems nice and the pay is decent for part time work. We got to know each other briefly over the phone before  We scheduled a time to meet tomorrow, since I’ll be back in Tel Aviv on way to Herzliya. I messaged a few people about roommating and then showered. 

After I  showered it was time to get to the bus and back to Jerusalem. It’s funny the second time around I felt so comfortable as if I’ve done this before. (Oh wait I have yesterday). As I waited for the bus a woman began speaking to me in Hebrew. I had no idea what she was saying and I couldn’t even reply in Hebrew 😱. I was disappointed in myself for being caught off guard and not being able to respond in Hebrew even though I knew how. 

The bus arrived right as I got a call from my accommodations in Jerusalem Wednesday-Sunday. We coordinated when I would arrive and as I paid the bus driver the money he drops my change towards my hand but he misses and it lands on the ground. I just laugh because it’s such an Israeli thing. (A couple days back I got my receipt and debit card thrown back at me not gently tossed on the counter or placed in my hand). 

Evening: I met a new friend at her apartment in Nachlaot. When I first visited Nachlaot the day before I didn’t really like it. But this tour around I actually enjoyed the little city. There are lots of different kinds of people who are in this part of Jerusalem. Secular and Charedi. I had a chance to meet my new friends friends at the dog park who were also very nice. I also had a chance to spend some time at a beer place in the shuk. I had a taste of different kinds of beer which was fun. I really enjoyed this spiced cider that I had. I really enjoy cider. The new friend also helped me look at apartments on yad2 and even spoke to a couple people for me. Unfortunately they didn’t work out so we never got to see an apartment. 

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I also reached out in my whatsapp group for girls looking for an apartment. I had a girl reply saying that she and her friend might be interested. It’s so hard because I want to live alone but I don’t want to spend more than 2,000 shekels a month. Seeing my new friends little place was an inspiration though. She pays 3400 shekels a month and it’s all hers. That’s really not bad and I feel like Autumn would be happy to have a place with just her and I. On the other hand she is used to having Coco (my mom’s dog), my mom, and my younger brother and sister. It’s so hard to decided especially without a job. 

I keep thinking about the part time job prospect but I don’t know if it’s a good fit. I want to live in Jerusalem and the thought of coming every day to Tel Aviv for a job seems crazy to me. Maybe I’ll give myself until Thursday to figure this all out. 

After spending all day in Jerusalem I returned to TA to meet up with another friend. We had a couple drinks, shared a small snack and just talked. It was pretty cool and it’s nice to hang out in the evening time and see everyone outside still. I didn’t get back until 10pm and there was still a million people (figuratively) outside. Tel Aviv really reminds me of Paris and I think that’s why I’m starting to like it. 

 

Pilot Trip Day 2

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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

everywhere. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scared and Anxious in Tel Aviv

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I’m struggling in a weird way right now. I’m so happy to be home and yet something is off. I’m staying with my friend in Tel Aviv and her boyfriend. Their apartment is beautiful and I’m sitting here thinking about how I can’t wait to have a beautiful apartment to call my own. Then I think about my lack of job and lack of Hebrew skills and it feels like it will never happen. Life for a single person is never easy. I mean one bedroom apartments in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Berkeley San Francisco, etc are expensive. The only way to afford it is to have to people there paying for it. Just punish me for being single why don’t you. 

I’m struggling in a weird way right now. I’m so happy to be home and yet something is off. I’m staying with my friend in Tel Aviv and her boyfriend. Their apartment is beautiful and I’m sitting here thinking about how I can’t wait to have a beautiful apartment to call my own. Then I think about my lack of job and lack of Hebrew skills and it feels like it will never happen. Life for a single person is never easy. I mean one bedroom apartments in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Berkeley San Francisco, etc are expensive. The only way to afford it is to have to people there paying for it. Just punish me for being single why don’t you. 

I’ve heard so many complaints form people about the low pay and how everything in Israel is expensive in comparison and I begin to wonder if I will be able to make it. A friend keeps telling me how wonderful and cheap Haifa is…but It’s cold, I haven’t been and therefore there is no connection there for me. I’m connected to Jerusalem and I’m starting to feel a little bit of love for Tel Aviv. I want to be in or near one of these places (although Jerusalem is where I really want to be).

So back to feeling strange. My friend left off to work this morning and I’m still here in my pajamas. In all fairness I only arrived two evenings back and I spent all of yesterday sleeping. Yet I feel like I‘m being lazy. My sleep is completely off but it’s been this way for months. I am waking up in the middle of the night and getting on the internet. Autumn got me started with this because she wakes up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. I feel cold so I lay in front of the heater and I have nothing to do so I get on the internet. This was in the states where I would spend time communicating with people in Israel. Now I am here and haven’t stopped this awful pattern. 

Again stop digressing. So I woke up at 2 am, finished off Gilmore Girls and then searched Netflix for something to watch me sleep. I found Dexter and then picked up my kindle and read. By 5:30 I decided it was time to get up and walk. I walked 5 miles (something I haven’t really done in a long time) and explored the city. I returned to the apartment, ate breakfast and showered. I had a call about a job but the person did not answer. So I’m waiting and writing and reflecting. 

 

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I know my anxiety revolves around making a living here. I am anxious that I wont be able to make enough or I’ll have to sacrifice something in order to have a decent standard of living. When I started my last job I worked 9-5:30 and I sacrificed working out. I was flat out tired and could not get myself to really walk and work out like I used to. So just a couple days outside of work and I have started my morning walk routine again and that has been great. So will I have to give this up to make a living? I did before and I think it contributed to my anxiety and unhappiness. I’m not looking forward to that again. I really don’t want to give it up again.

What about the low wages and expensive places? Or the fact that I want to live comfortably. Here is where I fall back on my memories of Orange County. When I went to grad school I lived in Santa Ana. I was literally a block from the city of Orange which was by my school. My part time job I was a mere 15-20 minutes away driving. The apartment on the outside was not much to look at but I loved it. It was upstairs, corner and had two balconies. I paid $1199 for it (it was a special). The apartment was clean and quiet overall. It was plain and safe. I had furniture donated to me and then I took some of my furniture from my house. I made it mine and I loved it.  I worked three jobs and went to school but everything was ok because I came home to peace. My house was clean and Autumn was happy (we walked every morning). 

 

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I remember looking online before going to grad school at apartments.  I wanted to live in Tustin or Irvine but when I saw the apartments in person I didn’t like them and they were expensive. Yet I fell in love with my accidental find in Santa Ana. A city that people will tell you is not great. Money was tight for me during this time and I remember being broke and calling family for help, crying. Help did not come either. But some how I stretched and made it work. 

7 years from that experience those fears have re-emerged as I am planning my new life. Worse yet, tv sucks and Netlfix Israel sucks. Theres no way for me to dissociate and avoid my anxieties. They are present and foreboding. That’s what I’m feeling. The second guessing is here too. Am I making the right choice? It’s going to be so hard! Can I handle this? What if…? It’s not a great feeling. But when I look out the window from my friends comfy couch/my bed and see the sun shinning while listening to Israeli radio and hearing the gardeners work I know this is the right choice. I have to face my fears head on. How else will I grow if I continue to let my fears and anxieties drown out my other thoughts. As I write this my friend sends me a message for someone looking for an english speaking psychologist. I mean there really is a need out here in Israel for English speaking therapists that I could help fill. So again why are my fears drowning out my hopes, dreams and wishes? Also when did I become afraid of hard work? More important when did I let other peoples feelings decide my behavior? 

I think when we move into the unfamiliar we seek out comforts any way we can get them. For me it’s the comfort of tv (reruns I’ve seen a million times such as NCIS, Psych, and Monk which I’ve been craving). So I most move into this anxiety and find a way to work through it if I am going to be successful. Other peoples negative experiences do not have to be my experiences. 

One of the things that keeps running through my mind is that I have to do what’s practical. Not necessarily what I hope or desire but what is practical. I really don’t like this as it feels very limiting. How can I grow if I don’t try to do more that whats easy…what’s practical…what others have done. Being practical is another way that my anxiety is speaking to me. If I’m practical and just accept what others tell me or work crappy jobs because I don’t speak Hebrew and that’s all I deserve I will be miserable. I will be like those people who come home, make aliyah and then bounce. This country is not for the faint of heart (I mean I went to the Superpharm this morning and the cashier threw my card on the counter as well as my receipt, all irritated. I was amused by her behavior and sent a text to my friend. I could’ve let her bad attitude impact me or wish that I was back home where (service) people want to talk to you and be your best friend even though its freakin 7:30 am. Ha! Not in Israel my dear and that’s ok as long as she didn’t cuss me out or yell I’m good). 

So now I’m focusing today on the job hunt. I think it’s best that I focus my attention on finding something in Jerusalem since that is where I want to be. I am tired so I think a nap is in order (I did mention that I’ve been up since 2 am and it’s 11 am now) and then hit the ground running trying to meet other therapists in Jerusalem and maybe even be brave and send off my CV. I’ll keep y’all posted on today’s events. 

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Pilot Trip Day 1

I’ve Decided from this point on to connect my pilot trip by days. With that said today is Sunday, which is my second day here. I’ve all ready written about some feelings that have been stirred up inside me since this adventure began. 

As I get ready for bed, I can’t help but be proud of my little accomplishment. I am in Tel Aviv and I need to get to Jerusalem tomorrow for a couple of meetings. I know nothing about riding the bus and I’m even less confident about my ability to speak and understand Hebrew. So I get on the internet and I start the process of trying to map and plan route. So my friend starts me off gives me the bus numbers I need and it’s up to me to do the rest. I search google and we argue because I spell the name of the street wrong and google acts like it doesn’t understand and cannot locate the address. That took about 10-15 minutes of negotiating before we figured ourselves out. 

Working backwards from my destination (Nefesh b’Nefesh in Jerusalem) I then figure out where it is from the proximity of the central bus station in Jerusalem. I discover that I have three options. 1) take bus number 54 which takes 17 minutes. 2) take the tram which takes 17 minutes or 3) walk which takes 25 minutes. I’m leaning towards walking for a couple reasons. 1) it’s cheaper 2)walking is a great way to get a feel for a city and 3) walking helps me feel oriented in new surroundings. 

So after figuring out how to get NBN from the bus station I then needed to figure out what bus from my friends would take me to the new central bus station in Tel Aviv (which would then take me to the central bus station in Jerusalem). Theres a cool app called called Moovit which helped me figure out how to do this and they also showed me the times the bus would be arriving. 

Lastly I searched for how much this would all cost so I could give as much exact change as possible. All in all I feel ready and prepared for tomorrow. I will bring my computer and write. But who knows I may be mesmerized by the whole thing and snap pictures. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

Pre-Pilot Trip

My pilot trip to Israel is around the corner (as in less than 12 hours until my flight takes off). I am beyond excited. In preparation for this trip I got my hair done. It was a hair emergency as my usual hair dresser of several years did not show up at our scheduled time so I had to go to a new place. I contacted Mr. C and we made it work. Can I just say he did an amazing job on my hair and if I wasn’t leaving then he would be my new hair dresser. As an aside I have been nervous about who will do my relaxer in Israel as I’ve been going to the same person for years. Yesterday was a reminder that new doesn’t always mean bad and can in fact be better than what you had before. 

While in the shop he was playing Christmas music and the other women in the shop were filled with lots of jokes. I had only met these people for the first time yesterday, these black women and the 1 one black man, and they too liberties to tease me about moving to Israel. Thats one thing I love about black culture. We are all family. It’s what I also love about being jewish. We are all family. These people,who do not know me but learned that I was moving away from my family to a new country did their best to convince me to stay, citing how dangerous and scary Israel is. But in the end they were happy and even proud of me. It’s one of those cultural nuances that we all understand that is really hard to put into words but is what is special about black culture in the states. I will miss this.

Earlier in the day I had my Hebrew lesson and I was talking to my tutor. As she got the details of my trip she whips out her phone and says “I will connect you to my friend Michel”. And just like that Michel and I are talking and she’s offering for me to stay at her home and of course show me around. I’ve never met her and she’s willing to do this. Another woman I met online, with the connection being that we are jews of color asks me to send me her CV. She then passes it along to a therapist friend she knows who asks me to contact her. So I do and we are coordinating a meeting for when I’m in town. So this is why I am not afraid to make aliyah. 

The beauty of being jewish and making aliyah is the amount of support I’ve received from strangers. My calendar is all ready filled with new people I am excited to meet. People who I’v spoken to on the phone or through whatsapp or Facebook messenger. People who have taken the time to answer my questions and offer their advice to make this transition as smooth as possible. People who have passed my CV around and opened their homes to me. This is what’s waiting for me in December. 

As another bit of irony it’s looking like another infatada is happening in Israel. Instead of bombs and rockets they are setting fires throughout the country. As of today, November 24, 600,000 Israeli’s have had to be evacuated from their homes. It’s so sad and of course this news has made my family more worried (and just when they were becoming excited for me). I’ve been telling people its not so bad and it sound worse in the news, but arson which is requiring fire fighting planes from Russia, Italy, Croatia, etc to help extinguish the flames is on another level. I am not worried or scared but I feel so sad. I feel sad for the people involved in the arson who feel they have no other recourse. They will be found and punished. Their families will be affected too. The public will have less and less trust for them and thus the cycle will continue to persist. I feel sorry for the families who have to flee. People who may be hurt. People who are losing their possessions and their sense of safety. They will be hardened. 

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So even though I am ready for my trip I am sad that it’s occurring at a time when fires are burning across the country and people will feel more stress.