Testing The Waters

We are going on a pilot trip in less than five weeks! I can almost taste the falafel. I am so excited to see Israel in a new light. This trip will be different than past trips. This time, when we walk around the streets, go into supermarkets, and daven in shuls, we will be looking to envision how our lives will be in just seven months. We will be gathering as much information as we can, soaking it all in, and testing the waters.

I am eager to figure out so many of our unknowns. Where are we going to live? What school will our kids go to? And what will our community look like? I want to see potential apartments and understand just how small the bedrooms really will be. Are we really not going to be able to fit our American beds? I am curious to drive on the highways, and see how far these potential communities are from shopping and jobs. How will I feel driving in Israel? I want to experience the parks and supermarkets in the various communities and hear from residents about what they like and dislike about each place. We plan to visit some furniture stores to get an idea of prices and quality of furniture. This will help us determine what pieces of furniture are more practical to buy in Israel rather than bring with us.

Finding potential communities is not an easy task. There are so many factors to consider when choosing a place to live in Israel - some of which we take for granted in America. Factors include religious observance, commute to potential job areas, large Anglo presence so we feel comfortable making friends and communicating in our neighborhood, ability to integrate into Israeli society when we are ready, schools that meet our academic and religious standards, and affordable housing. It is a long list!  We do not know where we will find jobs and what our budget will be which complicates the issue even more.

Our pilot trip is limited. We can not stay in Israel indefinitely. We have jobs and kids to get back to. We have to plan out each day and maximize our research during our ten day trip. We already know some communities and cities we want to visit. We are trying to speak with as many contacts as we can prior to our trip to determine what schools to visit in each place and if we should spend a weekend there. Since we only have two weekends, we are reserving them for the places we are most likely to end up.

I hope this trip will help us determine where we will be moving in August. I hope it will give me a picture of our potential lives to grasp onto for the seven month wait until our move. I hope we can come back with some details to share with our kids about parks and schools to give them something to look forward to.  And most of all, I am dreaming of the feeling I will have when being in Israel. Right now, all my drive to make aliyah is intellectual. I know that the Jewish people belong in Israel and that raising my children in a land filled with Jewish people and values is our goal. But, I have not been to Israel for seven long years, and have not felt the emotional attachment that I am longing for. When I think of our pilot trip, I am hoping to feel that palpable kedusha of Eretz Yisrael and just sense that we are making the best decision for our family. I want to feel like there is nowhere else I would rather spend my life and raise my family. When we test the waters, I want to feel like we are visiting our future home.