Phew!

Okay I feel a lot better right now. Things are starting to feel manageable and am glad I can draw from my Hebrew to make contacts. I walked around some of Kfar Saba today amidst the bustling and noisy Israelis.

Have you ever noticed how noisy they are? Seriously, everytime I go to the airport and am on a flight with them I can’t believe how much noise they generate. I like it. Usually the noise comes with lots of warmth and friendliness. My Mom thought they were like Italians.

I just got a new haircut, a very, very short haircut. I actually like it and it’s good for the hot weather. But Eric is a little traumatized and thinks that I look like a man. I’m debating whether to grow it out again.

We’re close to signing a 3 bedroom apartment in Kfar Saba which is 5 minutes walk from the Conservative shul, overlooks a garden and has central A/C. (Central A/C is VERY important). It would be great if we could start moving in before I leave for Chicago on Wednesday.

Yes I AM going back to the U.S. in a few days. Isn’t that funny? I’m going to be so sleep deprived and delirious by the time I get back. Let me tell you. But it’s all for a very important cause. One of my closest friends is getting married next weekend, and I’m one of the maids. Hopefully my shorn look will look okay with that dress. Hopefully people won’t mistake me as Susan Powers (you remember that crazy workout lady, right?).

We received our Teudat Zehut–which is the equivalent of the U.S. social security card. Without that we really wouldn’t have been able to clear our customs or live a functioning life. It means that I’m actually an Israeli citizen. Woo hoo.

Next week we have to meet with the Absorption Ministry to get our ‘sal klitah’ payments started, sign up for health insurance and a bunch of other stuff. I have to find out whether I got into Bar Ilan’s sociology of organization’s program. They seem to be taking their time.

The people have been incredibly helpful–both the olim and Israelis. We have made lots of friends and advocates since we have been in Israel this past week, and we’ve been helped a ton by friends we met during the year in Israel–many of whom we met at Pardes or through Nefesh b Nefesh. How did people do this without Nefesh B Nefesh? How did people come here when there was no A/C?

I feel like we’re being looked after by the great powers above. I have to thank these powers above for getting us this far and for giving me the chutzpah to keep muddling through. It’s very daunting, but I know I have the inner strength to make it work.

Last weekend we were in Romania for Eric’s brother’s wedding. His Romanian wife converted to Judaism and the wedding was held in her parents’ town. She’s a very cool person, by the way, and just finished an MA at Harvard while Eric’s bro finished at Yale business school. I think they plan on moving to D.C.

We stopped in Budapest to hang out with Peter and Eszter, our two Hungarian friends. Peter went to school with us at Pardes and is going to the Leo Baeck rabbinical school in London. Eszter, his girlfriend, visited Jerusalem for a few months and worked at an anglo theater. We had a blast with them in Jerusalem, shared Friday night meals and usually drunk a lot more than we normally do.

They took us to shul on Friday night and walked us around the Jewish quarter and parts of the waterfront. Budapest has some of the largest and most beautiful synagogues in Europe, which attests to the wealth and confidence of their community before the Holocaust. Compared to many other communities they were well accepted, but then the you know what happened (http://www.bh.org.il/Communities/Synagogue/Budapest.asp). Looking up at the Dohany, I felt a twinge of sadness for this relic from a time when Jews were numerous and prosperous here.

All is not glum though. The Hungarian Jewish community, while smaller than pre WWII community, continues to flourish. Peter is active in a Reform shul, and he is helping to design a prayerbook with the rabbi. His brother serves as the shul’s president. The Dohany was renovated in the ’90’s and continues to serve the community along with many other synagogues. Hitler is gone but we are still here.

The Romanian wedding was very cool. After Budapest, we flew to Targes Mures, where the bride is from. The wedding took place in an old synagogue in her town where Jews, Romanians and the bride and groom’s international set of friends mingled. (We must have looked like quite a spectacle!) The synagogue had been recently renovated and was quite beautiful, but the Jewish community is now very small. A Neologue rabbi, whom Peter recommended, drove from Budapest along with a cantor to wed the couple. It was a moving experience to witness a wedding in that synagogue while the cantor’s melodies reverberated off its ceilings.

The reception, which began around 4, lasted into the night–Romanian style. Several courses of food were served and the music shifted from a string quartet to a Romanian band (where we danced the hora) and a DJ which played very bizarre mixture of Eurotrash music. Everyone really enjoyed themselves. Congrats to the newly weds!

I got back from Romania on Tuesday, and Eric got back yesterday after participating in a family tour of ancestral towns in what was once Hungary but is now in Romania. And now we are back in Israel. We’re still regaining our equilibrium, but we’re glad to be back.

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