About Me

I'm the Rabbi of B'nai Israel Synagogue in West Bloomfield, MI, a highly-participatory, traditional, egalitarian synagogue.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Milestone and the End of the Beginning

We’re coming to the end of the beginning of the journey, and I’m ready for it.

Later today, the kids finish the last day of their first year of school in Israel. Unbelievable, that a year has gone by so fast. Unbelievable, that my kids have done a full year of school, in Hebrew, in Israel. I am amazed by them, and have accessed yet an deeper level of respect for them.

And what we, their parents, have put them through, by placing them in this foreign-speaking, foreign-cultured environment – oy! But we’re thankful we did it….

The kids are now vatikim, veterans, of the school system. They talk excitedly about the chofesh hagadol, “big vacation,” as do all kids right now. They chatter about the Israeli-style kaytanot, camps, that they’ll be going to in July. And they talk about the ones they want to go to next summer, particularly an insane camp called Al Hagalgalim, “On the Wheels,” which takes kids to a different amusement park/pool/field trip every other day of the camp – and leaves the kids grumpy and dead tired at the end of half a day… But it’s the rage, and they want it.

Thankfully, in the past couple of days, I’ve accessed my own memories of finishing the school year when I was little, and can identify with our kids’ excitement. I can get past the newness of this first year to realize that this would be new to the kids wherever they were. Things are getting normal. Baruch hashem. Blessed be you-know-who.

I’m also coming around in my own life – seeing the light of normalcy appear at the end of a year of upend, downend, and every end. I’ve been a rookie at everything – aliyah, full-time fatherhood, working out of the house – and I’m ready to be done with the hazing. Things are beginning to move with my service recording and writing people’s life stories – please look at jewishlifestory.com -- and I also see the possibilities for a patchwork career that is the norm for so many Israelis.

I crave normalcy. Crave a slowdown in the breakneck pace of the first year of aliyah. Crave the opportunity to raise a cold beer and make a toast to making it through this first step. August 4th was the day of our arrival. But maybe we’ll toast early – at the bbq we will be going to, at the home of other olim, on July 4th, that day of days. How ironic.


I’ll be winding down virtual aliyah and taking it into a different gear – still blogging about Israel but changing the focus a bit. After all, now I live here. I want to focus on the comfortable for a change.

I’m hoping to take these blog posts, some accompanying pictures, and create a literary memento to peruse on our coffee table. Writing about aliyah has helped me immensely, and I hope it’s been meaningful for you too.

If you have appreciated the blog posts, let me know, and let me know “what you want” as I continue to post from Israel. Will you miss the posts? How have they impacted you and your relationship with Israel? Are you that much closer to at least getting on the plane for a vacation here? Or even a step closer – you can still be far – to getting on the plane for good? What topics did you like the most on the blog?

I’m excited to hear your thoughts.

Reporting from Modi’in, as we conclude our first year.

Unusally unedited and straight from the heart.

-- Mark

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