The Roller Coaster

People like to ask me how things are going. They want to know how we are dealing with our transitions and how we feel about our aliyah experience. The truth is, my answer depends on the moment. This aliyah experience is like a roller coaster ride. There are highs, lows and twists all along the way. Some moments are so wonderful. During those moments we are so happy that we made the leap and moved to Israel. Other moments are difficult and stressful. During those times, I question our decisions and feel worried that maybe we are in too deep.

For example, my husband likes to walk our older girls to their school and I take our youngest two to drop off our daughter at gan. We take the bus to her school since it is almost completely uphill and a difficult walk. Some days the bus is great and smooth sailing. We wait a few minutes, get on with plenty of space, have a rav kav card reader by our entrance, chat on the bus and get off a few minutes later without anr issue. Sometimes the bus takes a very long time to come, when it does come it is filled to capacity and we have to squeeze on. When this happens, we are pushed and shoved as people try to squeeze past our stroller to get on and off the bus. Sometimes the rav kav machines are only in the front of the bus. Then I need to leave my daughter with the stroller and make my way through the crowd to pay for our rides. When the second type of situation arises, the bus ride is stressful and worrisome. At those moments, I wonder how long I can handle such stressful mornings. I wonder if this is all worth it.

My daughter and I usually take a big breath when we get off the bus, and discuss all the craziness that just went on. We walk up the hill to her gan, I give her a hug and she rings the bell to let her ganenet know we are there. I like to walk back from her gan. Our son loves watching the scenery as I push him down the hills of Yerushalayim. We both enjoy the breathtaking views. When I used to picture our lives after aliyah, I pictured walks like this. Strolling through Ramot is one of those highs in the roller coaster.

Every so often we receive emails from the girls’ school with things we need to send in or do. This week, the school is providing vaccines for the second and third grade girls. Apparently in Israel, babies go to a special office called a Tipat Chalav for well visits and vaccines. After they reach two years of age, they graduate from the clinic. The next vaccines are given in school. This vaccine schedule and system is totally new to us. My kids like for me to be with them when they receive shots. Additionally, in America, the shot schedule seems to be different and they receive different vaccines at different times. The email requested that we send in the childrens’ pinkas which is a vaccine record booklet. Obviously, as new olim we did not have one. Yet another challenge to overcome. I am not yet comfortable sending my girls to school with the wrong documentation, and hoping they receive only the vaccines they actually need. This was a twist that we did not anticipate.

I emailed one of my daughter’s teachers who understands a bit of English and asked her to forward our records to the nurse. Since I did not hear back from her about whether or not our kids required vaccines this year, I called the nurse at the school this morning. I explained that we are unsure how to compare our records to the vaccine schedule they use here in Israel and that I would like to be present when the girls get their shots. We arranged that I bring the girls a little late to school and we will go over the records together in person. I will be with my girls when they receive their shots, and I will be more confident that they will only be getting the shots they actually need. Crisis averted again (hopefully).

Over shabbat we enjoyed a beautiful dessert picnic with some friends in the park. At one point a teenage boy started walking through the park yelling the word “tehilim”. All the children started to follow him. I turned to my friend and asked what was going on. Apparently, every week this young man runs a tehillim group in the park. All children are welcome to join as they recite tehillim line by line. When the kids are participating nicely, the leader gives them candy as a prize. What a beautiful program. This type of thing is why we moved here. Again, a high part of the roller coaster.

To finish off the analogy is the feeling when you get when you get off the roller coaster. The feeling of exhilaration and gladness that you faced your fear and went on the ride. We are not finished with this roller coaster ride yet. I hope that one day, we will look back on our journey and feel that shear happiness, that we went on this roller coaster!