(An adorable olah chadasha-- new immigrant-- from my Nefesh b'Nefesh flight)
If you really want to be Israeli, make aliyah! Aside from a mountain of paperwork, immigrating to Israel is not hard at all. The Israeli government paid for my plane flight and provided some money to support me for my first year here, and I became an Israeli citizen literally minutes after touching town on Israeli soil (well, asphalt. Kissing the dirt doesn't quite have the same power when it's a runway in Ben Gurion airport). The wonderful organization Nefesh b'Nefesh supported me in every possible way, from a group flight to a list serve full of people willing to explain to me what kinds of catfood are available in Israel.
Still, making aliyah is just the start of becoming Israeli. I want to understand enough Israeli cultural references that I can make it above 1,000 shekels on the game show Monit HaKesef ("The Taxi of Money." It's fabulous. I'll post about it some other time). I want to have close friends that I only speak with in Hebrew. I want my future children to grow up in a home that reflects not only my American heritage and my husband's Polish ancestry but also Morrocan cooking and Mizrachi music and... well, maybe not Mizrachi music. I can't bring myself to go much more Mizrachi than Boaz Sharabi. I doubt my husband and I will ever drive our Hyundai Getz down the street blasting "Ani Chai b'Seret." (Yes, I know "Ani Chai b'Seret is a pretty lame example of a Mizrachi song... as I said, we're pretty Ashkenazi.)
Anyway, that's what this blog is about: my desire for not just my identity card but my identity to become Israeli. And it's for anyone who wants to bring a bit more Israeli-ness into their lives. I've actually been on this quest since long before I actually made aliyah, and I'll continue on it long after.
It comforts me that Israel, even more than America, is a country of immigrants. Today in the supermarket I realized that my accent didn't sound that different from the accent of the old man in front of me-- who had probably lived in this country for more than 60 years. Almost everyone here has at least grandparents who speak accented Hebrew, and the effort those grandparents made to become Israeli dwarfs mine. They made the decision to speak Hebrew to each other even when it would have been so easy to make Yiddish or Polish or Farsee the language of this country. They forged this thing called "Israeli." So I think I can become part of it after all.
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!