Thursday, July 21, 2011

Happy Aliyahversary To Us!

No, it's not our wedding anniversary. Rather, this is the day that we celebrate our three year Aliyahversary. That's right, three years ago, a bleary-eyed Spolter family arrived in boiling hot Yad Binyamin with a bunch of luggage, and a dream...to get some sleep. Last night, the family celebrated with a steak dinner (I think it's the first time that I bought steak here), and we spoke about the things that we love about living in Israel.

So, how's it going? All in all, terrific. Note that I did not say easy. It's certainly not easy, and not nearly as easy as it would have been staying the course in the USA. But we have a great deal to be thankful for:

Financially, we're doing OK, (thank God!) having been fortunate to find work that we enjoy. But that has come with a willingness to change, adapt, and do things that we didn't ever think we'd be doing. This is not to say that we don't miss our old jobs. It's hard to give up what you loved doing and what you think you were really good at. But we made a choice to move to something new, and change is never easy, and comes with a price. Even after three years.
The Kids, excited for the flight, three years ago
Socially, we've found some level of acclimation in Yad Binyamin, which is a really great place. We've met great people, both Israeli and Anglo. But, truth be told, I feel somewhat betwixt and between: on the one hand, we've gotten to know a bunch of wonderful Israeli families. At the same time, we're just different. We're Anglos, and nothing we can do will ever change that. We're Olim, and always will be, and it can be challenging to know that as successful as you'll be (and we feel that we are successful), you'll never be a native. It's just a fact of life that we didn't understand as fully as we do now, but accept so that our children won't have this struggle. Some choose to live in very Anglo areas like Ra'anana or Beit Shemesh, and they never really feel like outsiders, as they're not trying to enter into Israeli society. We've chosen a different path, which entails a greater sense of alienation. One is not better than the other; both have costs and benefits, and each oleh must find his or her place here in Israel.

Same kids (+1), last Yom Kippur
Kids-wise: The kids are really doing great. Most acclimated to Israel almost immediately, but for some the second year was light-years different than the first. They're fully integrated into the Israeli school system, and while it's of course not perfect, we're really, reallly happy with our childrens' education thus-far. We also added a beautiful daughter (our only Sabra) who needs no integration.

The Gemara tells us that it takes three years to make a Chazakah on a place. Truth be told, I don't miss the United States per se. I listen to American talk-radio (mostly sports) online. I miss the people: our family, the close friends we made in Michigan, and I also miss the reasonably-priced vacations during the summer. I also miss watching NFL football - not that I watched it that much back home. (I'm just too cheap to pay for an online subscription.) But I cannot remember a time that I wished I was back in the States.
I feel truly blessed to be raising my family in Eretz Yisrael; I feel blessed to have acclimated as much as we have. I feel blessed to have the opportunities that I've had over the past three years, and often see the hand of God guiding us on this crazy journey. And I pray that He will give me the wisdom and serenity to continue to handle the inevitable struggles that will come unexpectedly, and to always see the great blessings that I have.

Happy Aliyahversary!