After making aliyah, most of the life skills I'd acquired over 25 years of semi-competent existence were wiped out. I felt like a movie princess suddenly forced to live without her maids. How do I get an appointment with a doctor? Wheredo I go to rent a movie?? What should a lease look like? How do I pay taxes? Where do I write the return address on a letter?? What do people eat for dinner? And what should I wear if it's 20 degrees outside?!
So one thing I had to learn was how Israelis mop floors. I have yet to see a Swiffer or sponge mop here, and I only saw a traditional mop with spaghetti strands when a Brit provided one as a theatre prop. Instead, we have these metal poles that grip towels between their plastic teeth and wide base.
They are easy to use, really, except that getting the towel to stay on confused me at first. I attempted to wad both ends underneath the clamp in a ploy to approximate a Swiffer, but all four corners wouldn't fit. Then I think I let the towel drag behind the base of the mop, towel wistfully tickling the floor as I dragged the foam-metal base, squealing, along my poor tiles.
The secret to using these mops is that you put the base down ON the towel, as you see in the picture above, and push the towel around with the pressure from the handle. (My husband's aunt, the most meticulous housekeeper ever, just slings towels on the end of the thing without clamping. This, I believe, is an advanced skill.)
My next challenge-- getting the mop wet. I tried to dip the whole head in a bucket with the towel on, but it was too wide. I needed to take the towel off before wringing it off into the bucket. Then I tried to wash the dirty towels in my washing machine, but these are special cheap floor-washing towels (which you buy as a pack in the supermarket), so they ended up beading off into bits of lint. My husband claims the towels are supposed to be disposable. I still wash them, but now I mostly just rinse and hang.
The thing is that I now like this system better than a Swiffer or a sponge mop. The towel is nice and large, so it cleans my floors quickly. The towels last longer than those disposable Swiffer papers, and by reusing them, I save money.
A lot of people panic about all these changes when they make aliyah and try to bring everything with them from America. My advice would be to suck it up, and stalk an Israeli to see how she gets through her life. Yes, you'll feel like an idiot for a little while-- you'll have to ask a lot of questions about things your mother taught you to do when you were eleven years old. But it's worth it, because now I feel like an Israeli when I mop the floor, and I'm not begging Swiffer papers off of every visitor who comes to see me from America.
Now don't ask me about how to be TRULY Israeli and use a squeegee to clean the floor. That one still scares me. (I think it stands on a higher plane of Israeli-ness.)
If anyone reading this made aliyah, what life skills did you have to learn?
My husband and I (and our cat Zeus) made aliyah to northern Israel in April, 2008. In Israel, we adopted two street kittens who have proceeded to make up for kittenhoods of deprivation by growing remarkably fat and shiny. In October of 2011, we welcomed our first daughter, Nitsah. Moving to a new country demands both a sense of wonder and a sense of humor. In this blog, I'll try to share both! DISCLAIMER: I actually can't tell you how to be Israeli, because I'm still working on it myself. But at least we can muddle towards Israeli-ness together!