Monday, July 26, 2004

Our First Full Week (Update 5)

Well we have now (we think) succesfully completed our first full week in Israel with no major traumas or setbacks!!!This morning I took off for Givat Shmuel (just outside Tel Aviv) to meet-up with Itay Zeman who had most graciously offered to accompany me on the on-going search for a car. We looked at a couple of used cars and a new one and I think we have decided to go with the new one. We will make a final decision by Sunday and then probably go to put a deposit down on the car. A 7 seater, which is closer to a station wagon than a mini-van (a station wagon plus we are calling it). So hopefully, we will have our new car within about 2weeks. Another, 'why we made aliyah' anecdote. Last night, a young kid (about 12) came by with a bucket of flowers. Apparently the kids compete to see who can get out earlier to sell flowers for shabbat. Aside from the fact that we got free delivery, each bunch of flowers costs only 10-15 shekels (the conversion rate is about4.5 to the dollar). What a great deal and it made us quite happy!!The bigger news than flowers at the door and our car(although the car rivals this) is that the port strike is over and we should, conceptionally, get our stuff within a couple of weeks. We are doing fine without our stuff and someone who made aliyah last year(Mark/Tzvi Richter for those of you who may know him)just donated his computer to us to use while they are in the States for the next few weeks. Now we have to get our ADSL line set-up and we will be off and running.As Romi mentioned, we registered Matan for camp starting Sunday morning for two weeks (for only 180NIStotal!!!). We were worried that he wouldn't want to go, but we told him today and he seems excited. So, we will keep our fingers crossed and hope all goes well with that.That's it from here. Thanks to all of you who have written and called, we really appreciate hearing from you. Our long-distance is still in a bit of flux but should be worked out shortly. Shabbat Shalom!!

Erev Tisha b'Av (Update 6)

We have had a productive couple of days. Yesterday we completed all of the steps to get our driver's license and put the down payment on our new car (which we can't take possession of until we get our license). Thanks again to Itay Zeman for helping us to navigate the process and to negotiate the purchase of our car.

We had our first visitors yesterday!! Sorry to John and Susan Levin and family who had planned to be our first visitors. Dennis and Robin Berman made it out to Neve Daniel yesterday for a very nice visit and brief tour around the yishuv. Robin took some pictures so some of you will probably receive a pictorial update from Neve Daniel from Robin. Thanks to Robin and Dennis for coming out for the visit and becoming part of the Sussman family aliyah lore by being the first!!!

Matan started camp yesterday and really seems to be enjoying it. We were really worried about him wanting to go but he went like a champ and says that he is having fun. The counselor told us today that he is playing nicely with the other kids and seems to have made some friends...we couldn't ask for any more on that front.

We got our home phone line today, our new number is ----(drop the first zero from the States). We also started our adsl line in the house so within a couple of days we should (and I stress 'should') have our internet connection up and running which will make our lives much easier.Still no word on our lift arriving. There was a court order mandating that the port workers go back to work,but they announced that they will defy the order...the plot thickens!! No big deal for us, we seem to be managing just fine without all of our stuff, when it comes, it comes. Not much else to report.

Tonight is erev Tisha b'Av(commemorating the destruction of the BeithaMigdash--the holy temple--in Yerushalayim) and I am planning to join thousands of others in a march around the walls of the old city of Yerushalayim. I have been looking forward to this for months and hope it will help me to add some real meaning to my observance ofTisha B'Av this year. Hope all of those who are observing the holiday have a meaningful and easy fast.Will report on Tisha b'Av tomorrow or Wednesday--until then, we'll be thinking of you. Love, Romi, Josh and the Boys

PS--B'sha'a tovah and and early Mazal tov to Seth andJulie Coplin (and big brother Benjamin) who should bedelivering their second child within minutes of thise-mail.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Checking-in (Update 4)

So, I believe we are on update number 4? This isRomi...finally sitting down at the computer while Josh is, undoubtedly, going crazy with the kids. A quick update...No - of course we have not yet received our lift or our computer. Apparently our lift is having a great time in Greece and we wish it well. But...we have found that we really need very little. While we'd like to have our lift...we are a bit intimidated envisioning where everything is possibly going to fit! Its' a very nice three bedroom apartment...but we have almost everything from our three story, four bedroom house coming...oh dear...but that's for another update. This week...we had our first truly Israeli day on Tuesday. We set out early with the kids to tackle the driving license thing. There are five steps to getting your license and we were confident that we'd get most of it done. so...it turns out that our Israeli identity cards (that you need to show to everyone here for everything) was issued very quickly by Nefesh BNefesh...too quickly in fact for the government computer system. So we showed up at the first office and they said we weren't in the computer and sent us to the second office. It took us an hour to find the second one and I had to fight with packs of others to convince them that I really was next in the line..and she said we had to go to another office. At that point we realized something must be wrong and we figured out that we were working too quickly. The biggest word in Israel is SOVLANUT. You have to be patient. But...when you are dying to get a license and a car...it's hard. So, yesterday, we set out without the kids. We got a nice babysitter. I met someone in the market and asked her if she had any recommendations and she said, "Yeah - my kid". So, sight unseen, we hired her kid. That's how things work around here. She showed up at our house at 7:30 am (a teenager up at 7:30!) and we were off. The kids were great with her. Josh and I went to the first office and it actually took five minutes - with a smile from the worker! The second office also took only 15 minutes. We couldn't believe it. Then they told us we couldn't go any farther because they had to get our info into the computer So...today we are playing the waiting game...we can't continue the process until we come up on the computer...We also went to the immigration office to meet with counselor for the first time. Very nice woman who spent almost an hour with us discussing Ulpans, jobs, etc. She said that we didn't look like new Olim because we don't have that panicked look on our faces and we seem so calm. That made us both very happy. It feels good- we both have commented that this hasn't been as shocking as (I at least) expected. We know what Israel is - what the landscape looks like, what the food tastes like, etc. We aren't coming off the boat from Ethiopia. And that makes a big difference.Today, however, the bunk beds should arrive. We bought them in Talpiot a few days ago and the kids are very excited about them. So that is our job for the morning...We also looked at a used car this morning. We are trying to figure out the best way to get a car that doesn't cost too much and that we can trust is in good shape. We've been talking to a lot of people about it and will probably go over to one of the rental car companies today who sell cars.The kids are driving us a bit batty. They don't have friends yet and are relying on each other and us for companionship. Although he is going to hate me for it...I've signed Matan up for camp next week. A friend saw an add in the weekly Neve Daniel newsletter for a camp. I was so proud of myself - I called and spoke to her entirely in Hebrew. It starts on Sunday for two weeks from 7:45-1:30. I think she said he should wear a hat and tennis shoes - but I definitely missed a few things in the conversation! There are supposed to be 6kids his age and a few other new olim. Matan is actually a bit shy and doesn't want to go...but we are going to force him. Ready for the price! It's 180shekels for two weeks - that's about 45 dollars!!!! amazing huh? So..we will let you know how that adventure goes! Poor Huda...I haven't been able to find him anything yet...that's about it from here. We won't have a long distance plan until our lift arrives...so if you want to talk to us - call us!!! We'd love calls because we can't call out. We are doing great...and miss you all!
July 22, 2004 10:49 AM

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Good-bye Jetlag (Update 3)

NEVE DANIEL, Gush Etzion, ISRAEL, The big news of the day is the Yehuda slept through the night!! Good-bye jet lag!! After 3 nights of being up half the night with a very awake 2 1/2 year old we finally got a full night sleep last night. I woke-up and walked to minyan at 6:30, stopped on the way home for some milk at the local grocery store, picked-up our mail at the central mailbox and went home and miraculously found everyone still sleeping. Romi and I were thrilled to have had a full night sleep.

Our first Shabbat in Israel as Israelis was very nice. A family down the street has turned their basement into a shul in which they host a Carlebach style Friday night service with lots of singing and even some dancing and also an early mincha on Shabbat afternoon. We were hosted for all three meals of shabbat with lovely families in the neighborhood and had a really, really nice day. Two quick and cute Sussman kid anectdotes. YesterdayMatan looked at us and asked, 'Mommy and Daddy, we're in Israel now, why aren't we speaking Hebrew?' We explained that we would all learn soon and that, unfortunately, it wasn't quite that easy as just arriving! Another Matan story...he is now fully Israeli! I was at minyan when I hear Matan yelling, 'Daddy, I can't get in'. The gate to the courtyard around the house was closed. I told him I would be right there and before I could get out the door he was on top of the gate (6 feet high) and on his way down to my side. All of the sabras around me started saying he was ready for the commandos!! Israeli ingenuity at its best...all in a 4 year old. Gotta run...I'm using someone else's computer and they have to leave. Until we get our lift, we will be using other people's computers so we are fairly limited in getting out individual e-mails, so for the time being these group e-mails will have to suffice. We apologize, but will make it up to you when we get our computer (hopefully sooner than later). Hope all is well.Love, Romi, Josh, Matan and Yehuda

Friday, July 16, 2004

Shabbat Shalom (Update 2)

Wanted to wish everyone a shabbat Shalom as we headinto our first Shabbat here. We've heard that therewas much press around our arrival - but it's quitefunny for us. Although we've lived through it - we'veseen virtually none of the write ups! It has been anamazing few days, however. I know josh filled most ofyou in already...just a few additions.The plane was hysterical. I've never seen more checkedstrollers, more children, dog carriers, and luggage inmy life. The plane, as you can imagine, was quite loudand fun. The Rabbi who created this whole program,Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, was throwing food out at peopleand walking through the rows. He started the flightwith the Shechechianu - how often do you hear that on aflight? Matan slept a lot - Yehuda not at all. Thedog in front of us escaped from its carrier andeveryone cracked up when a stern voice came over theplane saying, "Will the people with the black dogplease come get him - he just peed in the kitchen." The best part was the landing. They handed out hatsabout 45 minutes before landing and everyone started toget very excited and to look for land. We kept saying,"do you see it yet? Do you see it yet?" And when wefinally did there was a huge roar from the plane. Andthen many screams and claps and tears as we acuallylanged. I felt, as we got off the plane, that we werepart of a movie prop for a Nefesh B'Nefeshadvertisement. We had seen the pictures and videos somany times - it was very weird to be acting out what wehad seen. I exited and had to wait at the top of theplane for Matan and Jsoh and I was carrying two bagsand Yehuda. Someone came up and asked me if he couldhelp - turns out it was the El Al President!!! We allwalked down the plank together with Josh and Matancarrying a huge Israeli flag. You could look out andsee hundreds of people who had waited for hours to seeus all and there were a hundred soldiers clapping andgreeting us. Matan kept giving high fives to thesoldiers and actually (as Josh mentioned) climbed intoa soldier's arms and literally wouldn't get out of hisarms. He was so enamored. Our friends were there togreet us and then the radio station we have beeninterviewing with each week noticed us and put josh onthe radio.The presentations in the hanger were interesting -although we were so hot and tired! Itay said that thehanger we landed in front of was so significant becuaseit's where Isarel has started and ended many militaryactions including Entebbe. He was quite choked up andit was neat to see that we had actually made adifference in the life of an Israeli. I number ofpoeple have thanked us for coming and showered us withcompliments - for giving up so much to come and make adifference here.So - that's our story. We have been welcomed with manymany dinners and cakes. We've met a lot of people -i'm definiely overwhelmed with names and people. Wehave meals arranged until at least next Wednesday. Wehave taken it easy these two days adn need to start onthe beaurocracy on Sunday....one day at a time.We are attaching pictures that Itay took at ourlanding. Hope you can open it and enjoy! We hope to haveour own phone and cell phones sometime next week. We'dlove to hear from anyone - and we are thinking of you!love, Romi and Josh

Thursday, July 15, 2004

We Made It (Update 1)

Hi Everyone!!!We made it and are now official Israeli citizens. Whatan incredible few days. We drove over to our oldneighborhood to pick-up Jordan Frankl and his son Maxwho were gracious enough to drive us to NY. We droveup to their house to be greeted by a whole group ofpeople waving and holding a big Israeli flag...what asend-off. We made it to NY in good time with verylittle traffic and then were greeted by balloons andolim of all stripes at the airport. The flight waselectric and the time flew (even thought we barelyslept). The boys were well behaved and Nefesh b'Nefeshdid a great job ensuring that all was taken care of.What can I say, arrival at Ben Gurion was absolutelyamazing. Hundreds of people waving flags and balloonsand soldiers forming two lines from the plane to thehangar. Amazing!! Matan was so excited by thesoldiers that he 'adopted' a nice young air forceofficer named Nir who then held him in his arms andtalked for about 30 minutes!!! Matan was so happy hedidn't know what to do with himself.The opening ceremony was not too drawn out and we werewelcomed by PM Sharon, Bibi Netanyahu, Minister ofAbsorption and Housing Tzipi Livne and other notables. Incredible that these people take so much time awayfrom their jobs to meet a bunch of North Americans atthe airport. It was amazing (even if the kids bothslept through portions of it).Thanks go out to ItayZeman (who missed a lot of work to be with us), theRebibos (notably without Daniel) and Joey Bernstein whoall welcomed us at the airport. If you want to seepictures let me know and I will forward the picturesthat Itay took. For those of you who are interested I was interviewedby Israel National News (www.israelnationalnews.com)and you can probably catch it on-line. Special note tomy mom and Stella Frankl who both got up in the middleof the night to hear us live!!!!It took us a while to get from the airport to our newhome in Neve Daniel, Gush Etzion, but when we didarrive we were greeted by a big sign at the front gatewelcoming the Sussmans to town and more signs from theAbbos on our front gate and front door. The GushEtzion regional council had arranged for beds, linensand some basic kitchen stuff to be waiting for us(along with some food) so we were ready to go.Yehuda was so excited (and jet lagged) that he went tobe on time, but then woke up at 1:00am and stayed upuntil 6:00. When I left the house he was stillsleeping at almost 1:00pm. Oh well, that will all getworked out in the next few days. Turns out that the port workers started a strike todayso we will have to see when we get our stuff. Welcometo Israel!!!!

We hope you are all doing well and we look forward to hearing from you.Love, Romi, Josh, Matan and Yehuda