Kibbutz, Living in Community, Making Friends, Parenting

Christmas in Israel

It takes more than a month for a container to ship from the United States to Israel. When we finally decided on a shipping company, we had a choice to make – Be without our “stuff” on the back end or the front end. Meaning, the sooner we could part with our toys, books, kitchenware, clothes, tools, and all the other items we deem necessary for day-to-day living, the sooner we’d have them once we arrived in Israel.

Our shippers came to pack up about three weeks before the day of our flight with the intention that we’d receive our container only 4-5 days after we landed in Israel. Since our plan was to live with Avi’s parents in Kfar Hittim for a few days while we handled bureaucratic issues, we knew we could hang on for a few more days before receiving our shipment to Hannaton.

Four to five days, however, turned into 19 days.

The day the boat carrying our container arrived in the port of Haifa, the port workers went on a five-day strike.

Followed by a nice long Shabbat weekend.

Followed by a few days while they caught up unloading the “more important” shipments.

Followed by a nice long Shabbat weekend.

Followed by a few days of missing paperwork and phone calls between our shipping company and Misrad HaPnim to “make sure we are new immigrants” and entitled to tax breaks at customs.

Followed by days of waiting until they could reserve a truck big enough to carry the container up North. Followed by days of worrying that all this was code for “we lost your shipment at sea.”

Finally, my otherwise kind and sensitive husband had enough. Remember what Bruce Banner used to say before he turned into the Incredible Hulk? “You won’t like to see me when I’m angry.” Avi switched from his new-American-immigrant-speaking-Hebrew accent to his down home rip-you-a-new-one like a native Israeli twang. It wasn’t long before he was in touch with Moti, the manager, who got things rolling a little bit faster. (By the way, all the Israelis we’ve told this to asked us why we didn’t ask to speak to a manager sooner – apparently, it’s the only way you get things going.)

We received a phone call at 4 o’clock in the afternoon a few days ago from Moti who said, “I have some good news, you’ll have your things in 2-3 hours. The truck is on its way.”

In the dark of night (okay, it was only 7 pm, but it was very dark), four guys loaded our boxes and furniture in through one of the bedroom windows. “This is Israel,” the one who could speak English said. Loading through the window was easier than navigating the ten stairs down to our front door.

They finished at 10 pm, too late for us to do anything but breathe a sigh of relief that we finally had our possessions in our possession.

Since then we’ve been chipping away at it bit by bit. And, as you can imagine, opening the boxes and unwrapping the packaging is like tearing into your gifts at Christmas.  But it’s Christmas for the grownups only; our kids don’t really seem to care.

Being without their Legos or their dolls when we were stuck inside in New Jersey was a bit challenging. But since we’ve arrived in Israel, and more specifically since they started school, they’ve been spending most of their spare daylight time playing with the outdoor cats, kicking the ball around with neighborhood kids, or swinging on the hammock swing. And when we finally opened up the boxes filled with their toys yesterday so their playthings would be waiting for them when they got home from school, they looked at the room, said an obligatory, “Wow,” and went in the backyard to play with the cardboard boxes all afternoon.

Their parents, on the other hand, are much more appreciative each time they open a new box. In the past when we moved, I’ve always packed our things and labeled our boxes meticulously so that when we arrived at our destination and we needed, let’s say a pot or a pan or a container of wipes, we could access it quickly.

Our shippers, on the other hand, didn’t do such a great job labeling the contents. For the most part, the cartons were labeled “kitchen,” “basement,” “clothes,” or “CDs.” (Yes, we brought our CD collection to Israel. Ask my I-phone owning husband, “why,” because I don’t know the answer.)

I didn’t pack our boxes because I was under the impression the shippers needed to take a careful inventory for customers. Although, to be fair, perhaps their strategy is “keep it simple” and customs will leave you alone.


I’d be lying if I said we kept it simple when packing for this new phase of our life. After years of Israeli friends and family asking us to bring them or send them “special items” from the States – white albacore tuna, Old Navy clothes, M and Ms – we packed almost as if we were moving to a remote island in the Pacific.

There is great irony in this, I know, considering one of the main reasons we moved to a kibbutz in Israel was to embrace a lower key, less materialistic life.
And, yet, when we finally found the box with my toiletries: my stock of Whole Foods 365 brand shampoo and Tom’s baking soda toothpaste, I cheered. As did Avi when he found his wireless router, which we had almost checked off as left behind.

Christmas. Not presents, per say, but little care packages from home to help make the transition a teeny bit easier.

I am confident that as we dig ourselves out of move mode, we’ll find little gifts in the most unexpected places. We already have. A helping hand from a neighbor; a Shabbat invitation; a new friend. Gifts that cost very little, but make a huge difference in our lives. And can only be found here in Israel.

Letting Go, Living in Community, Love, Parenting


I still don’t feel like I live in Israel.

This is probably because I don’t.

Technically, I do, of course. I am now an official citizen of the State of Israel. I have a new cellphone number and an address here.  I have a Teudat Zehut — and therefore, an Israeli identity. And by mid-week, all three of my kids will hopefully officially be in school.

I live here. But I am still in limbo.

Our shipment with all of our furniture, most of our clothes, our new Israeli small and large appliances, and all the material possessions that make it possible for me to live at peace with my children (read “Legos” and “dollhouse”) are still, supposedly, stuck in the port of Haifa.

Three days after we landed at Ben Gurion, our container arrived at the port. Unfortunately, that same day was the start of a week-long strike of the port workers. This is Israel.

The strike was finished a week ago, but we are still without our shipment, and also without any word of where it is or when it might arrive. Our rented home on Hannaton sits empty. We remain living out of duffel bags on the second floor of my very generous in-laws’ home in Kfar Hittim, a moshav overlooking Tiberias. I am fully aware that the situation could be much, much worse. We could be living in an Absorption Center, as many immigrants do. I could be living in a one-room apartment with not just three, but six children. I could be pregnant.

Things could definitely be worse.

And, things could be better. Right now.

Meaning, I could get over wanting this phase to be over.

I am a believer in the Law of Attraction. Say what you will, but it’s worked for me. Using a strong sense of focus and clearing my mind of negative thoughts, I somehow have been able to manifest anything from incredibly close parking spots to a huge bonus for my husband. Ask my family members about my parking luck…it’s not luck, my friends, it’s the power of intention.

So why isn’t the Law of Attraction working now?

How am I unable to attract a 40 foot container attached to a tractor trailor to my little red house on Hannaton?

I posed this question to my possibility-creating Facebook friends. One said: “Perhaps focus on the feeling you would feel once the shipment arrives. Just keep on thinking those feelings.” Another said, “If you can accept this moment just the way it is, everything gets easier- whether it all shows up or not. You do what you can and then relax and trust that it will work out in the best way possible.” (A lot of people “liked” that response.)

And, yet another said, “[Practicing the Law of Attraction] is harder than it sounds. That’s why they call it practice.”


Can I accept this moment just as it is?

Can I enjoy the chaos, the uncertainty, the cramped quarters, the unfamiliar tastes, smells, and sounds?

Can I be with the crying and the pushing and the acting out of my children? Accept that they too are in limbo?

Lord knows I’ve been trying.

But I know that I haven’t been trying hard enough.

I know what I am capable of accomplishing. Who I am capable of being…for myself and for my children.

I haven’t been her as of late.

When my friend Rita challenges me to accept this moment just as it is, what I know she’s saying is: “Choose it.”

Once I choose the balagan that is my life right now, I will suddenly have all I want. I won’t have to resist it any longer.

And even those who don’t practice Law of Attraction know what happens when you resist.

It persists.

So, what happens when I let go? When I accept? When I choose?

Anything and everything.

Limbo disappears.

And suddenly, I am here.