Thursday, May 12, 2016

The 68 Reason I Miss Israel (Most)







Hello from NYC! I have been on my yearly pilgrimage to America since before Pesach, but honestly, it feel like forever! Not that I haven't been enjoying- it's been so lovely and full of incredible memories (more on that in a blog to come). But when I was planning my trip and people would ask when I was returning home to Israel, they would inevitably exclaim, "WHAT?! You're missing Yom Ha'atzmaut? How could YOU miss that here?" Emphasis on the "you", since I am a vocal and rabid Zionist who enjoys just a regular Tuesday in February in Israel. Imagine my sadness in realizing that my sister's sheva brachot wedding festivities would coincide with Israel's Independence Day! But, as one of my best friends put it, "Yom Ha'atzmaut comes every year, your sister only gets married once!" Good point, Donna. And so here I am, missing Israel terribly, feverishly checking Facebook to see how my Israeli contingent is enjoying, and counting the ways I miss my country- I chose 68 for Israel's birthday specifically, but I probably could have gone on a lot longer. Here they are, the 
At my sister's wedding, with my flag

68 Reasons I Miss Israel

1) I miss getting to Ben Gurion Airport, where customs will say "Welcome Home."
Welcome home from DBG
2) I miss getting onto the bus as it pulls away, the bus driver rushing me on with a smile, knowing he's made my day a little easier.
3) I miss searching for hidden lions all over Jerusalem, sometimes just chilling out on rooftops.
4) I miss all the kosher options. Sure, New York has lots of kosher- but is the entire food court on the mall kosher?! I didn't think so!
5) I miss going from the biggest city to the second biggest city (Jerusalem to Tel Aviv) in under an hour- can you imagine getting from NYC to LA in an hour bus ride?!
6) I miss the bus ride from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. It's long enough to snooze, browse Facebook and chat with a friend, but short enough that, before you know it, you're there!
7) I miss the weather. Today is beautiful in NYC, but I was in a coat for 2/3 of my visit- in MAY! Weather report in Israel? Sunny with a chance of gorgeous.
8) Speaking of weather change, I miss not having allergies. I forgot all about the intense suffering I had at the hands of New York pollen. Luckily, I haven't had one seasonal sniffle since my aliyah!
9) I miss my tiny studio apartment (which hasn't been robbed- I checked, thank G-d!) Just me and my 30
meters of personal space! And my shoes.
10) I miss being a round people who don't think making aliyah is insane. G-d bless my friends and their support for the Jewish state, but when I say I moved to Israel, half the time I get a look of utter shock. It's not that crazy, guys!
11) I miss Chabad and Breslov dance parties- in town, at the bus station, on top of their vans. I love seeing devotion to G-d set to an awesome techno beat, tzitzit flying everywhere!
12) I miss watching awesome street performers, like that Hasidic man who sings classic rock and the electric violinist lady who wails on some Josh Groban.
Street performers are the norm
13) I miss the street names, and the fact that I can live on a Sholom Aleichem instead of an Avenue U.
14) I miss how safe I feel in Israel. As I always tell people who worry, Israel is totally safe, with just a touch of terrorism! (Weirdly, this doesn't calm them...)
15) I miss using my Chofshi Chadshi (my monthly metro card.) Once I've paid it at the beginning of the month, I feel like I'm riding for free every time!
16) Speaking of the bus, and as much as I love driving, I miss the bus! I miss getting a ride back at the end of a long night, not having to worry about driving and ending up at my door- like magic!
Buses in Israel featuring the Shema prayer!
17) I miss the Mediterranean lifestyle! I miss seeing 5 Israeli men at a cafe at 2 PM on a Wednesday, not a care in the world! Do they work? Probably! But for now- Turkish coffee!
18) I miss hummus at every meal. You don't realize you are missing this Israeli staple until it's gone---and even worse, when it's there but it tastes bad!
19) I miss the little jingle that precedes the Israeli news on the radio.
20) I miss listening to the news, trying to understand the gist, and getting excited that half the words are names ("blah blah Barack Obama blah blah Benjamin Netanyahu blah blah California")
21) Speaking of politics- I miss our government! Dysfunctional as it may be, I can't wait to escape the Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton juggernaut that dominates the news here.
22) I miss hearing little kids speak Hebrew. In general, I love the sound of the language, but tiny people speaking it more fluently than I will ever in my life? Adorable!
23) I miss the artists' markets on Fridays. Even when you don't buy anything, it's beautiful to see such talent coming from me fellow Israelis.
24) I miss the Tel Aviv bus station- just kidding it's gross. But where else can you buy a coffee, get a tattoo, send money Western Union, pick up an outfit to go clubbing and catch a bus to Eilat- all in the same place?
25) I miss Goldstar. I'm so happy I love our national beer (sorry, I've never tried Maccabi) and I love that it's a delicious and economical choice!
26) I miss continuing my quest for best Israeli breakfast (pssst- it's Cafe Greg or Caffit so far)
(Israeli) breakfast is served!
27) I miss the desert. I don't spend that much time there, but every time I go there is such a peace in the silence. And G-d knows, I need to be silent sometimes.
28) I miss the North (of Israel). Like the desert, I don't spend enough time there, but every time I go- I'm dazzled by the green and the air and the natural beauty- I just love it.
29) I miss being a tour guide for visitors. Nothing better than a friend from NYC coming to visit and asking me what to do, where to go or what to eat. In my past life, I was a tour guide for sure. Now I'm just a frustrated tour guide. Who has eaten at every kosher restaurant in town.
30) I miss the indescribable feeling you get when beating the bureaucracy. Like when I figured out a bank issue or got my Israeli driver's license with only minimal agita. Priceless.
31) I miss Mizrachi music, my non-secret, non-guilty, guilty pleasure. Yalla Habibi!!
32) I miss having my Hebrew corrected (constantly and without remorse) every time I speak (or text.) In America, everyone thinks I'm fluent and back home, Israelis think I speak like a 3rd grader with a concussion.
33) I miss watching awkward dates of Hareidim in lobbies. I don't feel bad saying this, because for a long while, I had those dates myself. Hello from the other side!
34) I miss the arsim who always make me feel hot, even when I am looking definitely not.
35) I miss the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv rivalry and how I started off firmly Team Jerusalem and now I'm a bit less sure.
36) I miss Sarona Market in Tel Aviv. I went to Chelsea market here in NYC, which is almost exactly the same, but it's indoors! Total win for Sarona!
Sarona is a paradise
37)  I miss not having to hear about how expensive yeshiva tuition is. We get it, America, you pay a lot for your kids to not learn Hebrew very well. Move to Israel already!
38) I miss Israeli slang, now that I'm starting to understand it. Yes, I do "chaya b'seret/live in a movie" thanks for noticing!
39) I miss seeing tourists do double takes at the guy on the beach with the swim trunks and the rifle.
40) I miss rooting for my new favorite basketball team- Yalla Hapoel!
Love my team!
41) I miss discussing with tourists (especially non-Jewish European ones!) how different Israel is from how it's portrayed in the media.
42) I miss people being happy on rainy days. They know that the rain is a blessing, so they enjoy it. I still don't, but maybe one day!
43) I miss being wished a "Shabbat Shalom" or "Chag Sameach" by everyone- not just the religiously observant. And I miss saying it right back!
44) I miss the shuk on Fridays- I won't actually go there to shop, just to soak up the energy once in a while, when I become jaded about living in Jerusalem.
45) I miss watching the kids on Birthright fall in love with Israel. I often miss being the one who gets to show them Israel, but I miss seeing their faces as they come home for the first time.
46) I miss the shuk at night! Who would have ever thought Jerusalem would become a hub of nightlife? Certainy no one in Tel Aviv did! And yet here we are, with this awesome market that turns into the greatest place to spend a chill Tuesday (ar any) night, listening to music and gettinga drink with friends.
My man, Menachem Begin, spray painted at the shuk
47) I miss the quiet in the streets of Jerusalem on Shabbat. Though we're not all observant in the city, most people observe shabbat in some way, and the streets become very still and traffic is super slow, You don't get that in many places on a Saturday!
48) And I miss how the city comes alive on a Thursday night. As a country where the day off is Friday, not Sunday, Thursday night is our Saturday night (you follow?) Thursday night is the night to party, and I rarely stay in- although

I used to love to stay in Saturday nights in NYC. There's just too much going on in Israel on a Thursday night!
49) I miss roof parties! With awesome weather for over half the year and limited indoor space, roof parties are probably my favorite kind. Other than wine parties, Those are really my favorite.
50) I miss wine parties. Particularly on Wednesdays.
51) I miss the views from the bus heading into or out of Jerusalem. There is usually a noticeable quieting as everyone on the bus gazes out onto a truly breathtaking view out our windows
This view!
52) I miss starting renditions of Israel's national anthem, Hatikva, everywhere I go and having my friends roll their eyes before they join in too for the big finish.
53) I miss starting singalongs on public buses during festivals like Purim and Yom Ha'atzmaut, where the whole bus joins in a sings "David Melech Yisrael" at the top of their lungs.
54) I miss Cofix! I miss being able to get a beer, a sandwich, a soup or an iced coffee for just 5 shekel! In a country where we try to be frugal- it's the best!
55) I miss staring at the boys in Tel Aviv- some of the handsomest in the world. I actually think that's a fact I read in an article somewhere, but even if it's not, it's true. 
56) I miss "Chag Sameach" for whichever holiday it happens to be flashing on buses and in all store windows. I'm still new enough here that seeing "Chanuka Sameach" on the bus makes my whole day.
Happy Purim! Love, Jerusalem
57) I miss the festivals! I can't wait for the summer and my favorite, the Summer Wine Festival and the Arts Festival-Chutzot Hayotzer. But really, there's always some festival happening in Jerusalem at any time- anyone remember Japanese Culture Week?
Summer Wine Festival- best night of the year!
58) I miss seeing a mezuza on every door. It's still weird to head into a room here in the States and automatically kiss every doorway, and not have a little mezuza there to greet me.
59) I miss the attitude. I know that seems crazy, but being in NYC, where politeness is certainly not a virtue, I miss the kind of well-meaning aggressiveness Israelis have. Maybe it's because I'm from NYC, and not short on chutzpah, but I don't mind the rough Israeli style, I can handle it just fine.
60) I miss the diversity of Jews. I never realized it, but in my New York bubble, my Jewish friends are a bit...homogeneous. They are wonderful, beautiful and amazing- but we are all pretty much the same. Israel boasts Jews from every country, speaking every language, with every culture, living in one tiny space. It's pretty awesome.
61) I miss the bubble. I miss not knowing what movies are out, what songs are popular, and what are the must-see shows. There are probably Israelis who know all these things, but I don't! Don't get me wrong, I'm still pretty up on pop-culture, but I do like the extra degree of separation that comes from living 6,000 miles away from the US.
62) I know this will sound a little crazy coming from me, but I miss the coexistnce. sometimes there are times of fear or mistrust, but generally, the different cultures of Israel get along just fine. In the malls, the supermarkets, on the light rail or at the bank- citizens of Israel generally get along just fine with one another, and it's a good thing.
63) I miss our soldiers. Some of my favorite people in Israel have served or currently serve in the IDF, so our army is made up of people I truly love-whether I know them personally or not. May G-d bless them and keep them safe.
64) I miss my friends who have become my family, especially my fellow olim. There is a bond that comes with moving to Israel alone. I may not celebrate the holidays with my mom and dad and sisters, but I have some incredible new friends in my life who help me miss them a little less around the holidays.
65) I miss how everyone here feels like your family, and how they may yell at you one miniute, but they will kiss and hug you and invite you for shabbat the next minute- just like your real family.
66) I miss wishing someone who has just made aliyah a "Mazal tov!" Who says that when someone moves to Canada or England? I also miss making people "Mazel tov on your Aliyah!" posters!
My family hasn't made aliyah (yet!) but I can dream, right?
67) I miss learning new things about Israel every day. Whether it's a new Hebrew expression, a new historical fact or a new place to get the best cafe hafuch, I can't wait to learn more!
68) I miss feeling like I'm home. I will always love America deeply, for it's freedom and because the people I love most live here. But I live in the homeland of the Jews, and that is the great gift.

   So HAPPY 68th BIRTHDAY, Israel! You are beautiful and you are brave, you are ancient and you are young, you are traditional and you are innovative. You are a home to us all- and we love you!