One year ago today, we arrived in Israel!
In some ways this year has gone by so quickly, but in other ways it feels like much more than a year’s worth of living was packed into this year. It’s been an intense year for everyone, and it wasn’t until we were here for about nine months that I was able to see how hard some things were. At that point, I felt like I was beginning to emerge from a tunnel that I didn’t know that I was in, and there was a faint pinpoint of light at the end. It’s been challenging but good, and getting better all the time.
Are we happy to have moved here? Yes, absolutely. There were things we didn’t expect to have trouble with – the horrible school situation of dd16 was one thing that I wasn’t prepared for. But she came through it amazingly well, and thankfully her school has agreed to let her skip up a grade and for the coming year she’ll be with a good class. So we anticipate that this year will be drastically an improvement over last year.
The kids are all progressing with their spoken Hebrew. They’ve all made friends, and have adjusted pretty well to Israeli culture. Some of the older kids still have a preference for America and their friends there. But they still have a positive attitude about being here.
Dh has been working for the last six months in a different field than what he was doing in the US. He feels grateful that moving here gave him a chance to shift to doing something much more in line with his natural strengths and abilities. It’s challenging to start a new career and he’s learning new things every day, but he gets a lot of satisfaction in doing something well.
The apartment we purchased before moving here, sight unseen, has been wonderful! We had no idea what a perfect neighborhood it would be for us. We are a few minutes walk from the main charedi community, but close to the hesder yeshiva and a small Russian shul, both of which we appreciate and give us the chance to know different people than if we were in the very center of the charedi community. it’s given us the opportunity to have wider connections that we appreciate.
I’ve done a lot of advocating for my kids within the school systems to help them have an easier adjustment, and though this took a lot of time and energy, it was very worthwhile. The adjustments they had to make were hard, but this smoothed their paths somewhat, and removed some of the unrealistic expectations that the staff would have otherwise had of them. I’ll have to see what my role will be of this for the coming year; I anticipate that this will continue to be important but not as intensive as it was last year.
For me, I’ve gotten to know a lot of wonderful people here. I’ve made friends, though these relationships can’t yet compare to friendships in the US that developed over years. But the potential is there and I accept that time takes time. This is my attitude towards the entire aliyah process, that there’s no substitute for time, and you can’t fast forward through this process. You go through day by day, and you do the best you can in each day.
What would I have done differently? I wish I had had the funds to hire private tutors for the kids to accelerate their Hebrew language learning. I depended on the tutoring they were supposed to get through the schools, which was extremely inadequate. Though I supplemented at home, I wasn’t systematic and consistent about working with them, which was understandable because I had so many needs to juggle. The kids did okay, but they would have benefited from more help in this area. In another year, I think they’re going to be light years ahead of where they are right now in their comfort with the language and culture but right now, my Hebrew is still better than any of them.
My overall feeling is one of gratitude. I very often look up into the sky or at the buildings or landscape around me, and I feel so fortunate to be living in Israel. I love that my kids are being raised in a society with more value on being a good person than on material standards, that they can be so much more independent here, and that it’s so much safer (the last two are intrinsically connected). Some people thought we were crazy to move here with a large family that included several teens, and there’s no question that it was a much more difficult transition than what families with small children have. But it was worth it!