My friend Etya, whose husband is Israeli, said it right. “Sorry to be cynical,” she wrote on Facebook, after hearing about the ongoing “balagan” (mess) that is settling in here as a new immigrant, “but they’re just preparing you for life in Israel.”
I also hate to be cynical, but now that I am an Israeli citizen it’s my God-given right. This first week in Israel has been trial by fire for us. Walking on hot coals with three children attached to my back would have been easier than swimming out of this sea of red tape, as I’ve been calling it. And thanks to PMS, I’ve had to desperately hold back not only jet-lag, but hormone-induced tears as Israeli after Israeli participates in the endless incidental hazing of “olim hadashim.”
From government worker to moving company office manager to kindergarten teacher to municipality administrator…no one is making things easy for us. None of it comes with malace, and all of it comes with a hearty and loving “b’hatzlacha” (good luck!). Nonetheless, we’re not having the easiest of transitions.
If I was watching the movie of our life this past week, it would be funny. It would be in black and white, though, starring the Marx brothers or Laurel and Hardy. There would be a tad bit more physical humor…my husband would have tripped and fallen face down into a discarded falafel as he was filling up the flat tire on our rental car at the gas station. Or a pigeon would shit on my head the third time I walked out of Bank Leumi without an official bank account. Or maybe after the moving company called to tell us the dock workers at the port of Haifa went on strike, we’d see the ship captain setting our lift from America on fire.
Thankfully you’ll see none of those extras on the documentary of our first week here…And some of the highlights were the warm welcomes we got from our friends and family. Posterboard signs on my in-laws house and on our soon-to-be rental saying “Bruchim Habaim” (welcome) in colorful Hebrew letters. Cheerful hellos from neighborhood kids who remembered my children from playing with them in the summer. And, most memorable, the awesome arrival at Ben Gurion airport.
Things may or may not be getting any easier in the weeks to come, but someday very soon, I have a feeling we’ll be part of the Tribe — hazing newcomers with a love that is reserved only for those who’ve decided to become members of a club who would have me as a member.