Well, it seems like just yesterday I was sitting at the Starbucks located on Tamiami Trail and Honore drinking my final Starbucks soy no foam lattes and writing my first blog post, and now, here I am, four and a half months later, sitting in the Aroma located on Yaffa street near Ben Yehuda drinking one of my final soy iced cappuccinos.
What a semester it has been- it is insane to believe that it has come to an end. From traveling all through Israel and learning Jerusalem like it is my second home, to then traveling through Europe, these past four and half months have been the greatest few months of my life. None of this would be at all possible with the loving and unconditional support for my fabulous parents. I can only hope that I am one day able to give my children the semester of a lifetime like mine gave to me. Aside from this semester teaching me and showing me how wonderful Israel is, it has also showed me that I really do have some of the best family and friends in the world and have been so lucky to attend IU these past three years.
Anyways, instead of including some emotional and sappy shit in this blog, I am going to share with you the list of things I am going to miss most about Israel. This list doesn’t include everything or touch on nearly half of what I was able to experience this summer, but here they are in no particular order:
- Finding random pieces of aroma chocolate in all purses, pockets, and drawers
Yep, like previously mentioned, Aroma gives out free pieces of chocolate with their beverages. Always comes in handy during a chocolate craving, and most of the time I can find some pieces located in any of the aforementioned locations.
- Havdallah at the Kotel
There is no cooler feeling than reciting Havdallah, at one of the holiest places in the world, with a bunch of strangers (including men) that suddenly feel like family. Not sure if it is because we don’t know each other, but know the prayers and can unite as one, or if they are all looneys like myself and go to the Kotel all the time on Havdallah whenever I’m in Jerusalem, so their faces just look the same.
- The Shuk and everything it is and stands for
The one location in Israel where all of Israel’s many faces, colors, foods, and personalities shine bright. And yes, pushing and shoving on a Friday in order to get the tastiest and hottest Challah from the bakery that has the word “pear” in it is indeed one of Israel’s personalities. *No, I never learned what the bakery was called in the four months of living here…silly me
- No humid air in Jerusalem
That’s right, this Florida girl is OBSESSED with Jerusalem weather. No frizzy hair and also, it is May and has not reached 90 degrees..yet.
- The colorful clips that keep my pretzels fresh and pretend to be replacements for zip lock bags (news flash: there are no placements for zip lock bags)
So, who knew there were no zip lock bags in Israel? Not me and it didn’t fly so well, so I invested in these fancy clips, however, they are still no replacement for the one and only zip lock bags (but they do come in fun colors!!).
- My super cool falafel friend, Barista Doran from Aroma, and North Gate Security Guard at the Kfar
Israeli interaction and all people interactions in general have been a highlight of this semester. But three people who made my semester extra special are the guy from French Hill falafel who knows that I like EVERYTHING in my falafael and most importantly, gives free samples. Next up is Doran from Aroma who knows my order, and finally is the security guard who gives me high fives and hugs and tells me he misses me when he doesn’t see me in a few days (also, the minor language barrier always makes things interesting). PS- Doran wants a pair of beats headphones if anyone is coming from America….
- Being able to travel internationally for the same amount of money it would cost to travel domestically in the State
Go to New York for $300 or to someplace in Europe for the same price? Decisions, decisions….
- On the topic of traveling, the Ben Gurion Airport and Ben Gurion Security
Well the airport is basically a 24/6 (limited on Shabbat) international fun zone. At 4AM everything is open and gorgeous like normal. Best part, not having to take off my shoes going through security and definitely not having to get a full pat down…
- Seeing Hebrew all over and either understanding it, trying to understand it, or just passing by clueless
Four semesters at IU, Ulpan, and three months at Hebrew U….I’m a lost cause except on those lucky days where I can order in Hebrew, give directions in Hebrew, and speak to cab drivers in Hebrew.
10. Clapping when landing in Israel
Is everyone excited to be back in Israel or excited we landed safely? Either way, I’m down for a good clapping session.
11.Seeing anyone and everyone in Israel
Before Birthright season and now during Birthright season I run into SO many people. I recommend everyone just pick Israel as a meeting place. Great times and there is no greater feeling than seeing a familiar face in a place that is sometimes foreign.
12. Israeli Style Kosher Sushi
Just delicious. Aside from being able to consume everything on the menu, it is just the best stuff ever. I recommend the crunchy roll from Sushi Bar and the sushi sandwiches from Sushi Rehavia. If you’re looking for Japanika…it is now at the Cinema City
13. Cinema City
Come to Israel and missing Disney World? Go to Cinema City where you will be greeted with every Disney character you could imagine as well as SUPER comfortable theaters and YUMMy food (more delicious than Disney World food). Movies are in English with Hebrew subtitles…what more could one ask for?
14. Call to Prayer
I have no idea what they are saying, but it sounds super cool and I love it. Friendly reminder that I am indeed in the Middle East and there are different religious and cultures all around me.
15. The few days when Egged counted the Omer
This is the only place where that could happen. Why did they get rid of it? Things I will never understand….
16. Jewish Holidays in Israel
First of all, learning about and seeing the true meaning behind the holidays is unreal and so cool. Having days off of school and work to spend time with family and experience the holidays is also beyond amazing.
17.For once in my life, not being the minority
AKA not being the only one who wants to take a day off to celebrate a Jewish holiday, having Shabbat basically show up every week in all of its Israel glory, walking around and hearing everyone say Chag Sameach literally EVERYWHERE.
18. The way everyone stops what they are doing when an elderly person walks on the bus or train and jumps up to give them a seat
It’s a mitzvah, people.
19. Practicing a Hebrew project in a Sushi restaurant and having the girls at the table next to us help us
Nice people do exist all over this country (that is, once you get over their aggressiveness)
20. Intentionally or unintentionally shoving and pushing my way through every line and trying not to feel bad about it, but releasing my inner American semi normal self and still feeling bad.
As much as I tried to become Israeli, deep down I am an American or maybe just polite….Thanks Nana J for those manners!
21. The Israeli flag
It’s beautiful and a friendly reminder that I am indeed in Israel
22. Shabbat in Jerusalem
Unexplainable. Just come and experience it for yourself. Oh and don’t even get me started on the Challah….
23. It will be okay- בסדר יהיה
Everyone thinks that just about everything “will be okay”. Great mentality, but will everything be okay now that I am being forced to board an airplane and return to America?
24. LIVING in Israel
Who knows if I’ll ever have the incredible opportunity of actually living in Israel and this semester has allowed me to establish relationships with people and get to know this country in a way that would not have ever happened if I did not live here.
25. Being constantly asked the big question: Are you going to make Alyiah?
So, to all of you who I have ignored this semester when asked the question, here is my current, yet subject to change answer.
When I was little, we went to Disney World what seemed like every single weekend. No worries, parents, it was always a great time (except when you made us bring lunch from home), however, eventually the magic from Disney faded away. Four and a half months is a long time to live in one place and I am dying to know the next time I will be back in the land that has done me so much good this semester, however, to answer the mystery question of will I make alyiah…the answer is probably (at the moment) no. Just like Disney World, if I moved to Israel/ Jerusalem, I feel that I would end up taking the country for granted. As time passed, I worry that I would forget how special and remarkable Israel is. By having the constant desire to find a way to get back to Israel, I feel that I am keeping the country special to me in my own way. I feel that it is m responsibility to return at least once a year to visit, support, and spend time in the country, and to work towards finding ways and supporting others to come experience Israel for themselves.
So, I will try to accept that I am coming home, to America. Even though I will miss Israel everyday, thankfully I have an incredible family to be reunited with upon landing in Florida. This summer I am also so fortunate to have the greatest summer job ever of staffing another USY on Wheels bus and that will for sure help with my transition back to the real world. Thanks to my family and super cool friends for your continued support this semester and for staying in touch- it has meant so much. Can’t wait to see all of you soon!! Lots of hugs!!!!! XOXOXO