Israel. The land where you discover that you are no longer 25. Example - sitting in Ulpan today, we were asked to break into pairs and read an article from the newspaper and discuss it with our pair. I sit with a cute boy of indeterminately young years and we read an article about the Israeli ambassador to Norway. Mostly, we chat about where we each are from - Brooklyn for me and he's from the Upper West Side. I, of course want to know exact street address and so forth. Someone sitting in back of us (another young thing who made aliyah from Poughkeepsie and just graduated college) hears us discussing Camp Ramah (he went to Berkshires for a few summers). I ask him, almost fearing the answer, "how old are you?" He's not even 19, which really means that he's really 18 and 19 could still be quite far off. Ah, I say - where did you go to school? He just graduated from Heschel, he knows Becky Katz (Kane Street kid). There you have it - I am now meeting the children of friends of mine traveling on their own in Israel. His name is Jacob for all who'd like to know more (yes, he knows Jacob K - "right, that kid who transferred in last year from somewhere," - "France," I reminded him). He's taking a year off before college and was curious to know how I feel about Israel so far and how I feel about leaving NYC. We talk about missing the subway (which I do, desperately) and missing the grit and grime, although we grant that there's plenty of dust and dirt here in Jerusalem. He clearly feels that NYC is the place to be and wonders how Natan (once I tell him about Natan) is doing in school in terms of adjusting - "he must hate it," he says and I am quick to tell him that he doesn't hate it but is working hard to adjust and at least we've found him alot of things that are important to him to do after school - choral singing, acting, piano...
Actually, it's great how many young olim I have met. Many people take the leap and move here right after college or grad school. That's a great time to come. If they find work, make connections and develop a sense of community, then hopefully they'll be successful in their moves. The hard thing is those who move with little or no family. I can say that having family around is tremendously beneficial. Granted, I have more than most.
Akiva came home with a special gift from school before Yom Kippur - a little wooden apple on a stand with a tiny jar of honey. He also received a commendation - Excellent Student, it said. His hard work of the last month was noted - learning and remembering many new words in Hebrew. Ira stopped by the school yesterday and they spoke with great pleasure of how well he's doing and how they can't get over how rapidly he's aquiring language. He got off the bus today and asked Ira, "mah shlom'cha?" how are you doing? Akiva, when asked this question, says "be'seder," fine. Pretty cool.
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