We were relaxing in my in-law's apartment in Boca on shabbat afternoon when there was a knock on the door. Another resident and her granddaughter had come to visit. The granddaughter was seven years old, the same age as our middle daughter. Our oldest, always very socially proactive, jumped right up and started to pick out a game to play with the new friend. Our middle daughter, who is a little slower to warm up, remained quietly on the couch.
My husband and I both turned to our middle daughter, and simultaneously whispered two words: Aliyah Boot-camp. She understood what we meant right away. I elaborated just to further encourage her and explained that this was a great opportunity for her to practice making new friends. When we move to Israel, we will be doing a lot of this and now is a great chance to practice our skills.
It has become a family joke that I have been using the term aliyah boot-camp very often over the past few months. We have encountered many new or different experiences than what we are used to, and I like to point out that it is all helping us prepare for our biggest adventure yet, making aliyah.
We lived on a 27th floor for three weeks, which is way higher than we expect to be in Israel, but it was good to get a feel for how life will be different without a mini van pulling up to a driveway to unload our car five feet from the door to our house. With only two steps to get into our front door, we have been spoiled by the accessibility of our home. Having a few weeks in a large building helped us realize that we can manage in a less convenient living situation.
The parking spaces in Fort Lee were super tight and small with odd rules for alternate side parking and amount of time allowed in each space. I was changing our parking spot every two hours during the day and squeezing our van into some pretty tiny spaces. Again, all getting ready for the new parking experiences in Israel. On our pilot trip, we realized that Israel also has extremely tight spots and complicated parking rules to figure out.
We moved out of our house and into suitcases with minimal drawer space to unpack. We are definitely preparing for a much smaller home with less closets and storage than we had previously. Since we moved out, we have slept in eight different locations. We are all very used to learning new places and figuring out our sleeping and bathroom arrangements in each new place. This is aliyah boot-camp for getting acclimated to our new home, and probably staying in various other homes until our lift arrives.
Our roadtrip prepared us for long travels and figuring out how to stay occupied while seated for long periods of time. The kids were great, giving us the encouragement that we can survive the long airport waits and even the flight to Israel.
The heat, living without all our normal comforts, getting used to new locations, and figuring out new stores, shuls and routines in each place is all part of our aliyah boot-camp. I hope that when August 14th finally comes (which is only 16 days away) we will be ready thanks to all our experiences over the past few months. I hope our aliyah boot-camp will assist us in our real adventure of making aliyah!