3 strikes and you’re… what, exactly?

I am at my most productive when I make lists. I find nothing else gives me a sense of accomplishment like checking things off a long to-do list. So, in an effort to get things done, rather than just stressing myself out from thinking about all the things that need to get done, this morning I wrote a list. There were only 5 things on the list. I quickly crossed off one of them, and began working on a second.

Then I tried to accomplish the third. I called the Israeli Consulate in Miami. I listened to the recorded message, and chose what I thought was the correct department, and pushed the button. I got voicemail in Hebrew. So I left a message in Hebrew, asking for someone to call me back. Surprisingly, I did get a call back, right while I was in the middle of crossing item number four off my list – getting passport photos taken. The nice man told me I had the wrong department, and also informed me that the consular department, which I need, is on strike.

Yup. On strike, he said, chuckling. No, really, he chuckled and said “you know, it’s Israel here, they strike, we strike, but don’t worry, call them anyway.”

So I called the consular department, and after a few buttons, a man answered ” ‘allo? Ken?” I began explaining in Hebrew how I’m an Israeli citizen, and I want to register my children as citizens, but quickly got confused, and asked if he spoke English. “English, Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese, whichever you like”, was the reply.

In English, I asked what I need to do to register the kids as Israeli, and he gave me very straightforward instructions. “But,” he said, “we are on strike now, so you can’t come down here to do it all”

Ah, yes, I responded, do you have any idea how long the strike might last?

“Check our website at the end of the week, it might be over” he replied.

You know, I said, interestingly enough, it is because of a strike that I made aliya all those years ago. The professors were all on strike for months, and I was bored and wanted to get a job, so I made aliya in order to get a job…

“You see!” he laughed, “strikes are a good thing!”

Oh Lord, give me strength, and let this adventure be smooth…

Upworthy

Is there any country, outside of Israel, that has a name for immigrating to that country? If there is, I’d love to know, but as far a I’m aware, Israel is the only country with an official name for immigration, for its immigrants, and also for emigration.

We call immigration to Israel “Aliya”, literally translated “going up”. It pays homage to the biblical notion of “Aliya leregel”  – literally, “going up by foot” – when the Children of Israel would go on pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem for the 3 “foot” festivals – Passover, Succot and Shavuot. Once you “make Aliya”, you become an “Oleh” – the term for immigrant. You start off as an “Oleh Chadash”, a “new immigrant” and eventually the “new” part wears off, but you will always be an “Oleh”, even if you’ve been in Israel for 50 years.

The term for emigration out of Israel is “Yerida” – literally “going down”. The exact opposite of “Aliya”. I suppose the technical term for one who has made Yerida is “yored”, but you don’t hear that term much.

I made Aliya back in 1991. After 7 years of being an Olah (the chadasha part wore off after about 2), I became a real Israeli and made Yerida.

16 years later, I’m bringing a third terminology into my life – I’m becoming a Toshav Chozer (or Toshevet Chozeret in my feminine case) – a “Returning Resident”.

Surely, given my experience with being every bit of Israeli immigration terminology, my return to the land of my people will be smooth sailing, yes?

At The End Of The Day

It’s another day over…

October is half way done, next it will be Thanksgiving and Chanukah, and I realize I haven’t really updated on how school is going for the kids.

Most of the time, I judge how their day has been by whether they are smiling when they get off the bus in the afternoon. I know that they’re happy when they jump out of the car in the morning to get on the bus.

Last week I had the opportunity to watch them at school a little bit. I volunteered to work at the Scholastic book fair. I was at school every day from about 8:30 until noon or later. And now I can say that not only are the kids apparently happy at school, but they are happy at school. I was able to spy on them with their friends at lunch, watch them interact with their teachers and peers, and see for myself that they are all happy and surrounded by new friends.

I saw how much the kids like their teachers, how they want to sit with them and chat at lunch time. The diversity of children at the school is wide, and the diversity of my kids’ friends makes me really happy. Yes, they each seem to have found the other religious Jewish kids in their grades, however, they each have friends who are completely different to them – in race, religion and nationality.

The level of learning is good. I know nothing about common core or anything else, but I do know that when my kids are not challenged, they don’t like to do their work. They all do their homework, mostly without complaint, and the amount of homework is appropriate for each grade. My 6th grader rarely has more than 45 minutes of homework, unless she has a project to do. My 4th grader usually finishes his homework during the 30 minutes of after care before the bus, and my first grader has about 10 minutes of homework. The teachers are meticulous about posting grades to the online system, which makes it a doddle to keep track, not to mention how easy it is to find out when homework is due.

Obviously, as it’s public school, Keith & I still have to provide a Judaics education to our kids. So it’s a good job they don’t have too much homework, because we learn with them daily. It also means getting up earlier than strictly necessary, so that they all have time to daven in the morning before going to the bus. The bus leaves at 7am, so we are up by 6. A number of people, upon hearing this have said things like “we could never put our kids in public school. We’d never get them to daven”. And when I hear this, it just makes me sad, because I feel that we are in a better place now as parents, in so many ways. Out of necessity, we are forced to “Veshinantam leVanecha”, something that many Jewish parents no longer do, because their kids are in day school. Nothing makes my heart swell more than watching my 1st grade daughter bowing as she says shmona esreh, which I’ve been teaching her.

Do I wish we’d done it sooner? In brief, no. I’m glad we had last year at home, happy to have had the time to get to know my children better, and to understand how each of them learns. The break was nice, and now I look forward to early release days and days off here and there, when we can just hang out and have fun.

And the downside is…

You put your kids back in school and on day 1 of week 2, someone has to stay home sick.

My kids are really healthy in general, but once in a while there are things beyond our control. Number 3 woke up yesterday with a bright red rash on her face. Classic test case of fifth disease, or “slapped cheek” disease. According to my medical research (i.e the interwebz), once the rash has appeared, it’s no longer contagious. But this morning the rash had spread beyond her face, to her torso, and I could not send her to school without a doctor’s note, or I imagine I’d have received a call within minutes of her arriving to pick her up.
So, she stayed home, we visited our favorite pediatrician, who concurred with Doctor Mom, and gave us a note so she can return to school tomorrow.

So here we are. Luckily she’s cute and fun to hang out with, but she does not stop talking at all!!!

Image

Look at those red cheeks – classic “slapped cheeks” disease. Perfectly happy otherwise, just covered in a rash, poor child!

5 days down, 175 to go!

Right? Aren’t there 180 days of school in a year?

The first week is done and I have 3 pretty happy kids. In fact, considering how low my expectations for this week were (new school, hubby out of town), it’s been a fantastic week!

We’ve made the bus every morning, with a few minutes to spare. The kids are getting up when I wake them, and getting dressed, eating, davening etc. Homework is getting done efficiently. And most importantly, the kids are getting off the bus with smiles on their faces in the afternoon.

All 3 kids are making friends fast. Even the shiest of them has been making at least a friend a day. The older two have been placed in the advanced Hebrew class (no surprise, the teacher took one look at their names and assumed they are Israeli). Add to this the incredible conversation I had with my Middle School daughter last night about diversity, and I’m a happy camper.

I know it’s early days, but I believe strongly in first impressions. I think that a good start to the school year is a good sign. Nothing is ever perfect, and I am sure there will be bumps along the way, but so far so good, so onward and upwards!

Shabbat Shalom!

Summer’s over

vanessabrooksceo:

And I got back 3 happy kids this afternoon :-)

Originally posted on Vanessa Brooks CEO Blog:

Three days of orientation/open house/meet the teachers.

Middle School orientation was first. This was a bit overwhelming for both me, and my new Middle Schooler. New school, don’t know anyone, first time in public school, no idea who is who, what is what. But we both got a good feel from the place. There’s nothing more encouraging to me, as a parent, to see returning students hugging the teachers that they haven’t seen since June. Surely that’s a good sign? My 6th grader though so. She reckons the teachers must be nice if the kids are all happy to see them.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of kippot, and mothers whose hair was covered. I am torn as to whether this is a good or bad thing. On the one hand, it is good for my kid, as it means she is not the only frum kid in…

View original 391 more words

Summer’s over

Three days of orientation/open house/meet the teachers.

Middle School orientation was first. This was a bit overwhelming for both me, and my new Middle Schooler. New school, don’t know anyone, first time in public school, no idea who is who, what is what. But we both got a good feel from the place. There’s nothing more encouraging to me, as a parent, to see returning students hugging the teachers that they haven’t seen since June. Surely that’s a good sign? My 6th grader though so. She reckons the teachers must be nice if the kids are all happy to see them.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of kippot, and mothers whose hair was covered. I am torn as to whether this is a good or bad thing. On the one hand, it is good for my kid, as it means she is not the only frum kid in the Middle School. On the other hand, it makes me sad that so many frum families have had to move to Hebrew language charter schools, rather than stay in Jewish day schools. And yes, I believe that most, if not all, the families there, are there because day school is no longer an option.

My first and fourth graders had their “meet the teacher” days, and while neither of them know anyone in their grades, they were both made to feel welcome by the teachers and by the other kids in the classroom.

The night before school, we laid out the uniforms, reminded the kids what needs to get done in the morning before leaving the house at 6:55 (up, dressed, breakfast, daven, brush hair, brush teeth, grab lunch & backpack). They asked to be woken at 6:15 which I thought was a stretch, but that’s what we did.

This morning dawned very early for me. I got up at 6am, dressed quickly and proceeded to wake the kids at 6:15. My son and my eldest daughter got up, got dressed etc. and were both ready to go on time. My youngest needed more time. So we need to wake her a little earlier. And my eldest could have done with a few more minutes too – she has a lot of hair to brush!

We drove to the bus stop where a handful of other kids were already waiting. The bus arrived at 7am, and the kids who took the bus last year were thrilled to see him “It’s the nice driver! The one we like!” The driver himself spoke to the parents once all the kids were safely loaded and promised to arrive a few minutes before 7 from now on, and to wait until 7:05 to leave. As the bus pulled away, my 3 kids looked out the window. I expected to see anxious looks, even some tears, but instead all I saw was 3 beautiful, smiley faces, happily waving, as they started the first step in their next educational journey.

Hopefully when I pick them up from the bus in a couple of hours, they’ll still be smiling, and God Willing, the entire year will be full of smiling, happy children!

I hope your kids all got off to a great start to the school year too!

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