Today, August 12, marks exactly one year since our Nefesh B’Nefesh flight arrived at Ben Gurion Airport. We were greeted by the then new President of Israel. Ruvi Rivlin, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, and a host of other people. Rami Kleinstein played piano and sang at our welcome ceremony. A friend busted the dog out of her crate. It was the final point in a long adventure, and now it’s been a year of adventures.
The most asked question, posed by Israelis and non-Israelis alike, is “How are your kids doing? Are they happy? Have they integrated?”
So, I asked my 13 year old daughter, Noffiya, if she would write this blog post for our one year aliyaversary. To my delight, not only did she agree, but she wrote a piece that I’m proud to publish here. I hope she will guest blog for me again in the future.
<<This post is a guest entry written by: Noffiya Brooks
(Some of you might recognize this name from other blog posts because I’m Vanessa’s daughter and she writes about me very frequently)
When my parents announced to us that they were considering making Aliyah, I was hoping for an “April Fools!”, even though it wasn’t April. I was 11 years old, and was feeling sort of like that typical teenage girl in every movie like “ugh mom my life is officially over!” And of course, to top it all off, a pilot trip. Without me. I had never been to Israel before. This is still my first time here. (Never left yet mommy, still waiting for that Florida trip…) All the time my parents would tell my siblings and me so many great things about Israel, from when they were here back in the olden days. “Oh there’s makolet (mah-ko-lete) on every corner” “the fruits and vegetables are fantastic” etc. etc. I was not happy with the decision. When they went on their pilot trip, Chanukah 2013, I kept hoping they would come back and say “we were wrong. Israel is not the place for us to be right now.” But they didn’t.
Well, after the pilot trip, I started to tell my friends. Some said “it’s not such a big deal, its in 8 months” while others said “we have to start doing more things now!” Someone even asked me if I hated my parents for this. I was shocked. I told them that I couldn’t hate my parents for making the decision to move, and that I might be mad at them but I don’t hate them.
I also got tons of (useless) “advice” from people that were more like opinions. Here are examples of a few of them.
~Never buy clothes in Israel they’re terrible! (it depends where you shop though)
~Don’t buy ice cream from the vendors (?)
~Get a boyfriend (why? …)
~ Israeli shoes are the best (some are and some aren’t. just like America)
And of course, during Tzuk Eitan (most recent war, known as Operation Protective Edge in English), I got bombarded with the “are you scared of the rockets and/or sirens???!!?!??” To which I answered “No, not really” to which then I was told I was “very brave” and that I had “such wonderful trust”
Up until that very day, that very second that I put my foot on the plane from New York to Israel, I hadn’t actually thought about everything. That I was moving and leaving my friends and family behind. And I was sad, knowing that I might not see some people again, or for a very long time. So I thought on that plane, and I slept and dreamt about some of my fun experiences that I had in Boca. Then we arrived, and I hated it. I couldn’t stand the thought that now I actually was on a whole other continent than my friends, and that we had actually moved. It was too hard to grasp.
School was very hard for me. Obviously, it was in another language, but that was only the half of it. I had a special teacher that took me out twice a week to teach me. Her English was absolutely terrible, and so was her teaching. There was a girl that sat next to me, whom everyday would scream “you need to do your work! If you don’t do it so then the teacher will be mad at me!” and when I explained to her that I kind of had no clue what the heck those work pages were about, she told me she can help. So when I would ask her a question (after every single word because I didn’t understand) she would scream “I CAN’T HELP YOU I ALSO HAVE TO DO MY WORK” I mean, her English isn’t that good, but why offer something you can’t fulfill. I had to do two projects. One of them was an oral presentation in Hebrew, back in March. I did fine, and after I finished, the teacher then told everyone I was an olah chadasha, in the country for only a few months, and everybody clapped and said my Hebrew was so good for someone who hadn’t even been in the country for a year. The teachers were very understanding. Well… most of them were. I had one teacher who would force me to take tests that I didn’t understand. It wasn’t only me though, because one of my friends who made Aliyah 5 years ago had an exemption from that class as well as me, and she also was forced to do the tests. I have friends now, but I still find it more comfortable to hang out with people who speak English as their mother tongue. Most of the girls my age in Rechovot were born in Israel, so even if they speak English, Hebrew is their first language. Most of my English-speaking-made-aliya friends are in Modi’in, and I would much rather live there.
Now, I’m used to Israel a little bit. I’ve been here a year. Do I love Israel? No. Do I like Israel? I guess. Do I like living here? It’s different. I have to wait for my dad to go to America so I can get clothes, talking to my Boca friends is extremely hard because either I’m in school, or asleep or vice versa. I basically feel like the emoji that has a smile but a tear drop on the side of its head. I have mixed feelings about being here. It’s now my home, or at least; until I’m eighteen. And who knows how I’ll feel by then.>>