Friday, April 5, 2013

Blooming Where I'm Planted?

Shalom, chaverim! This has been the longest break I've taken from this blog since I started it, but now that the Pesach (Passover) holidays are well and truly over, it's time to get back to the business of talking about what life is like in least, what life is like for middle-aged American immigrants to Israel.

The past month has been a whirl of activities. In the run-up to Pesach, I found myself increasingly scattered and overwhelmed, as there seems to be a massive, national push to "get it all done" before the holiday started. Emails, letters, and telephone calls were flying thick and fast. Everyone and their dog seemed to want a piece of me, and of everyone else. Stores were crowded, women were angsting about not getting their houses cleaned in time, and as the holiday grew nearer, a typical refrain from everyone was "look, I'm incredibly busy right now, and nothing's going to get done until after Pesach, so call me back then, OK?"

And then, finally, Pesach came. Ours was very low-key and lovely, and we attended a beautiful seder at the home of our buddy family in Nahariya. This being a modern Israeli family, however, their children and most of their grandchildren were missing because they had moved to America a few months ago. Still, the tiniest granddaughter helped out by leading one of the traditional songs...via Skype!

I was also put through my paces, a week later, by needing to learn a few Pesach songs in short order for my performance at a local retirement home. As a relatively new "ger," (literally "stranger," but in the context of Judaism "ger" refers to a convert) my canon of Jewish holiday music is pretty meagre. Every holiday that comes up, it seems, I find myself scrambling around and asking other Jews "what songs are traditionally sung for this holiday, and is there a YouTube clip somewhere that I can learn it from?" Like a cutting from a hybrid plant, struggling to thrive in new soil, sometimes I bloom and sometimes I just wilt on the vine.

As the holidays came to a close, I reflected on my good fortune to have met some amazingly kind, funny, intelligent and courageous women here. All of us made Aliyah within the past year or so, and we quickly bonded. Before we all scattered to the winds of work and school again, I wanted to have them over for an afternoon of conversation and deserts...and belly dancing and hats. One of our friends, Ziva, is an accomplished belly dancer who performs and teaches. She brought over a collection of sparkly belts for us to wear, and in true Middle Eastern fashion, we had a blast dancing around together in the living room. Since it had been more than twenty years since most of us had done anything like it, it was funny to hear our pops, cracks, and groans erupt so quickly.

"My right knee is good. My left, not so much."

"Are we really supposed to be sweating like this? Is this normal?"

And my favorite: "Selah, you're not an airplane trying to land...just turn around and use the other foot to lead with!"

The hats element of the afternoon were courtesy of our friend Jody, who is a jewelry, hat and handbag designer extraordinaire. (You can go to her company Facebook page here:!/interestingstufff ) She takes found and donated objects, then repurposes and upcycles them into hats, bags, and jewelry of exceptional beauty. As we were being "ladies who were all fancy like that" for the afternoon, it seemed appropriate to don them and pose for pictures.

Five women and one bottle of wine between us--we get high on life!

So, now it's back to the fray in all its glory. Shabbat shalom, everyone!


1 comment:

  1. I’m envious as I loved visiting Israel more than any place I’ve ever been. If Israel wasn’t so far from my family, children and grandchildren Joni and I would truly consider making Aliyah. Of course living in S. Fl. were my family is not, is probably not a lot different as we spend our holidays with our friends who have become our family. Getting to Boston from Fl. Is a bit less expensive and only a 3hr flight and for someone who hates flying it so much easier. How have you managed with the language? I’d love to learn conversational Hebrew and am thinking about asking Dr. Dodes to give a class on this as I’m sure I could learn from him since he’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. If he could teach me to read Hebrew then I’m sure conversational Hebrew would not be a show stopper.
    Thanks for taking the time to write this blog its fun to read!


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