Your blogger has had a wonderful, spiritually uplifting visit to Israel, but you know what they say about all good things.
During a break in the International Jewish Bloggers' Conference Sunday night, I checked in with our olim one last time to see how they had spent their first weekend and how things looked on the road ahead.
The Bergers were on their way back to Kfar Shmaryahu from an Aliyah Fair at Nefesh B'Nefesh headquarters in Jerusalem. There they had met with representatives of the four health insurance providers and signed up for ulpan classes with officials of the Ministry of Absorption.
"Mainly you learn about how to navigate the system to get your benefits in place," says Pamela Berger. "It was a very useful day." They also received informaton from the Association for Americas and Canadians in Israel.
With a daughter who preceded them in Israel, the Bergers had the benefit of her experience in navigating the bureaucracy, which helped make expectations realistic. "It's not like one-stop shopping," said Pamela. "If you want to sign up for different things for every thing you have to do at least four visits. " While they believe the Israeli insurance will cover them retroactively from the day they arrived in Israel, they are continuing American coverage briefly until the dust settles.
They are continuing to explore an apartment in Jerusalem for use on weekends or when they attend cultural events in the capital, but haven't decided. "We may even decide to use it for two weeks at a time, when we're taking ulpan, but these things are very open-ended right now," says Pamela.
Beyn-time, as they say in Israel, the family spent the weekend enjoying the best of both religious and secular life, with Shabbat services in Jerusalem followed by the beach in Tel Aviv. On Motzei Shabbat, they babysit the grandsons, Yonatan and Nadav, so their parents could go to the movies for the first time in over a year, enjoying the security of having loved ones as guardians. "They saw 'Falling in Love Again," says Pamela. "This is the main reason we did this."
Adi Cydulkin still doesn't have her teudah oleh, or immigrant papers, but she does have an assurance that it's in the mail.
On Sunday night, after seeing her visiting mom off to the airport for the trip back to New York, she was picking up a new closet to store her American wardrobe. "I have to put it together tonight," she says. She's been working as a translator for a company that does film subtitling.
Adi will spend the high holidays In Haifa, where she has lots of relatives, including her grandmother, cousins, aunts and uncles. Looking ahead, she may choose to go back to school to explore working a creative field. She majored in theater at Binghamton University.
"I miss my family, but nothing in particular. I'm not really a person who misses too much when I travel."
On a personal note, after more than two decades in journalism, there isn't much that hits me where I live, but the arrival ceremony of those olim, detailed below, came about as close as anything has to giving me goosebumps. The sheer joy of those people starting new lives in Israel and the spectacle of their Israeli friends and relatives, and the government itself, rolling out the red carpet goes to the core of why we are Jews today and why we have Israel, and why we need Jewish newspapers and blogs to tell the story for history.
For a lifelong middle-class guy, I've been fortunate to have the kind of relationship I've enjoyed with Israel, visiting 10 times and living there for two years as a student. The last four of my trips have been for work, but this was by far the most fulfilling of those trips.
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