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!

6,425 Responses to “Here we are in Israel . . . finally!”

  1. Lori and George Says:

    Wow. What an exciting life you are leading! It sounds so fresh and different. I am happy for you, but miss you! We hope to visit next month.
    Love,
    Lori

  2. Tio Ben Says:

    Rachael, Larry, Ayla, Eli: thanks for the posting. It sounds terrific. Isn’t Carmel the neighborhood where we rented the apartment on our family trip to Israel around 1980 or so? Let me know when you and the kids can Skype! Love, Tio Ben

  3. Michael Says:

    R, L, A & E — This is great! Alex will love seeing pictures of his “Newton friend” (we still hear that sad refrain). Very exciting for you and we look forward to enjoying vicariously. Michael Cunningham

  4. eunie Says:

    gorgeous pictures and i love hearing how well things are going now. looking forward to ayla’s teaching me hebrew! babboo nini

  5. Eileen Sullivan Says:

    This is great! I really enjoyed seeing the pictures and hearing the news of you adventures.
    Eielen

  6. Katie Says:

    Hello there people!! It is a relief to know you guys are happy…and healthy! I miss you all. Is Eli running around the house yet? He was just shy of that last I saw you! Tell Ayla I saw “Chocolate Milk Millie” the other day and of course I thought of her! I can’t wait to see you guys again! Have a lovely time there!

  7. Beth Berkson Says:

    Mom would be thrilled to know you had hooked up with the Rosenbergs! I am jealous as I have never visited them yet! What a wonderful adventure you are having!

    Love,
    Beth

  8. Rena Says:

    So good to read news of you! Ayla looks like she’s grown taller!
    Alec has, as might be expected. 3′9 and 1/2″ at 4 and 1/2.
    We miss you! We are going to Arizona for a week’s vacation in early December, otherwise around for the holidays with a few days’ stay at the cabin over New Year’s.
    It’s COLD here…20s! You look so sunny over there. Enjoy!
    Rxoxox

  9. Ellen Says:

    Now that you have settled in, you will have a ball. Watch hoe the time flies!
    Hugs from Uncle Arnie, too!

  10. shulamit Says:

    My dear cousins,
    I’m so happy for you. What a wonderful experience! Thanks for keeping us posted.
    I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with your Mom and siblings in Palm Springs. That will be a treat.
    Love,
    Linda

  11. ozzie Says:

    Great. Hefa is our favorite city in Israel. I see you have a comment from “Shulamit”. Fascinating because we Ozzie and I stayed at the Shulamit Hotel the first time we were in Hefa (and Ozzie got sick and had to call a doctor on erev Rosh Hashanah, and we went back to Hefa with all four kids years later and again stayed at the Shulamit Hotel. Named after your cousin I suppose. Enjoy your life there. ברוך הבא אל חיפה

  12. Lena Bogomolni Says:

    Hi there!
    I’m happy you’re enjoying your stay! We miss you of course but I’m really happy you’re doing this!
    We’re doing fine , I don’t need the GPS ALL the time anymore to get to places and the kids are happier in school. Gaston is busy with all his projects of course and things are starting to feel like home.
    Take care and keep us updated!
    Love,
    Lena

  13. Sheila Skitnevsky Finger Says:

    Rachel, Larry and kids, mazal tov!!!
    Didn’t know you were in Haifa, I just came back from there - it is amazingly beautiful, as Rachel describes: from wherever you are, you can have that gorgeous view of the ocean, contrasting with the light colors of the city! Just that can bring you a smile everyday!
    Congratulations on the move, wishing you a wonderful stay and experience!
    Love,
    Sheila