Archive for November, 2008

Here we are in Israel . . . finally!

Posted By rachael

Date: November 15th, 2008

Category: Rachael's blog

Hello dear friends and family,

Finally we have a blog!  We hit the ground running when we arrived here:  Two brief hospitalizations for the kids (nasty stomach virus) and a series of fevers and colds.  Thankfully, Israeli medical care is first rate and comparable to what we have in the U.S.  We also spent the first two weeks looking for a “gan” (daycare) for the kids.  Gans are more like “play rooms” than daycares in the US.  The teachers don’t educate as much as just let the kids play a lot — I’m guessing it’s something like what you would find in a kibbutz.  They also dole out cookies and junk food liberally.  Guess who loves that?  Ayla has an English-speaking teacher named Dikla who is helping smooth her transition to Hebrew.  Eli is happily in love with his teacher, Carole.

Larry and I are studying in “ulpan” (government-sponsored Hebrew immersion for new immigrants).  Our class is 4 1/2 hours a day, 5 days a week.  Most of the class is people from Russia and America but there are also people from France, Colombia, Ethiopia, Romania and Canada.  We don’t go every day, but we are learning Hebrew very quickly and we are really enjoying it.  The best part is that you learn phrases and situations in class and then you step out the door and find yourselves using them immediately.

We live in the Carmel region of Haifa, a northern port city.  Haifa is beautiful beyond description.  The beaches are glorious, of course, but the views of the Mediterranean from the Carmel mountain, where we live, are not to be believed.  Up on the Carmel the weather is cool and the scent of pine trees is everywhere.  It’s interesting to see palm trees next to pine trees!  There is a small cable car called the rakbal that you can take from the top of the Carmel directly to the beach.  We have a beautiful but strenuous walk up and down hills from our apartment to the center of the Carmel, where all the restaurants and shops are.  There are wild cats everywhere! I have seen a mother cat and her babies lounging on a friend’s front steps and Eli and I have a game where we look for cats while we’re outside walking.  He squeals “da! da!” whenever he sees one.

The German influence is very strong here.  Germans settled the city before the war of independence in 1948 and there are streets named after Henrich Heine, Sigmund Freud, Theodore Herzl (of course).  It is very cool to drive down Rehov Freud on a regular basis!  Our local library has a big collection of German literature and the house where we will be living as of January 1 is of that vintage, too.

We haven’t started touring the country yet, but we did have a visit with Pat and Pekka Sinervo in Netanya and we visited an artist’s colony called Zikron Yaakov just a little south of Haifa with an old friend of Larry’s from Omaha.  We also have become fast friends with Dick and Sue Rosenberg (of Michigan City).  They are helping make the city feel a little more like home!

Larry has taken Ayla and Eli this morning for a quiet shabbat outing.  Stay tuned for more!