Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pilot Trip

This has been an amazing trip. I came to Israel with the intention of combining a Pesach visit with a Pilot trip in preparation for making aliyah. I have now been here a little over a month and will be returning to the States in four days.

Prior to coming on this trip I had determined that I would make aliyah to the northern part of Israel, in consideration of the fact that my daughter and her husband are in Haifa now -- he is a student at the Technion, and in consideration of the fact that Nefesh B'Nefesh offers substantial additional benefits to Olim making aliyah to the north -- participating in the NBN Go North program. I and Chloe and Jonathan also determined that we would attempt living together for a while, merging our resources, thus enabling a more comfortable living situation for us all.

However, upon actually visiting several of the eligible communities and considering the relative inaccessibility of most of them, we (I and my daughter and her husband) decided in favor of my making aliyah to a more central location. We determined that we should be in a community that is either directly on or extremely close to the direct train route to Haifa to ease Jonathan's travel. While his actual travel time is increased due to the increased geographic distance, it will be "dedicated" travel time. Travel from the more remote areas we originally looked at would entail several changes of venue with shorter travel times on each venue. The actual time it would take for him to get from door to door could be as much as an hour and a half. Travel on a train directly to Haifa would allow him to sit and study or read or do HW or even nap if he so pleases.

Modi'in is on the direct train route and was reputed to be a place with many nice residential areas, diverse and religious neighborhoods, and many resources available that would be helpful to us all. We began to look there. However, upon actually seeing what was available we were a bit disappointed with the ratio of space to rent. The spaces were smaller, the rents were higher. Chashmonaim is very close to Modi'in and I had found a number of listings that appeared to be good ones on Yad2. We decided to look there. We did see places with the space we coveted, but not the neighborhood.

On a whim, I decided to stop and visit friends of mine who live in Chashmonaim and yes, they were home and in we went and schmoozed for a while. It so happens that my friend is Robin Schreiber and she is a coordinator for Olim in Chashmonaim. What a great connection to have! That same day she received a tip that a particular house would be coming on the market as the current tenants would be vacating soon. She immediately notified me and I, in turn, contact the current tenants. We went forthwith to view the house. It was perfect ... well, almost perfect. The bedrooms are smaller than we would have liked and the yard is a mess. But the rest of the house is perfect. Now, the bigger test would be -- what will the rent be? The current tenants could only tell me what they were paying not what the landlord would charge. So, a call went out to the landlord. With bated breath, I awaited the verdict. When the number came through I let out my breath: YES! It was within our budget.

We will be meeting again with the landlord tomorrow. In the meantime we were busy. While I was here I managed to do the following: see several communities in the North. Go with Chloe when she took Gavriel to the doctor. Visit Beit HaTfutsot in Tel Aviv. Send out my CV to about 50 or so amutot -- of which about a dozen responded and half those expressed interest! I stayed with my sister, Phyllis in Mercaz Shapira for the Pesach seder, stayed with my mechutanet, Yael, in Nof Ayalon for Shabbat Chol HaMoed, and sof Chag. I spent a lot of time looking at houses in Modi'in and Chashmonaim. I spent a couple of days shpatziring in J'lem. I spent a Shabbat in Modi'in. I visited with an old friend from my sojourn in Israel thirty years ago.

Thirty years ago I was in Israel and I lived on Kibbutz Shluchot in Emek Bet Shean. During that time I became friends with a young soldier there, Efraim Yaffe. We remained friends when I was learning at Machon Gold in J'lem the following year. We even exchanged a few letters (via snail mail -- the internet did not exist then) during the following year when I moved back to the States. But that petered out pretty quickly. And then, we lost contact with one another. In 1996 when I first got online, I quickly realized the power of the internet to reach people I would otherwise not be able to find. Efraim was one of the people I attempted to find. I found many other old and otherwise lost friends via the internet but I could not find Efraim. It was after my husband died, that I found him and in the most extraordinary way.

After Barry died, I went online and logged onto all his accounts: hotmail, gmail, linkedin and facebook. It was upon logging into his linkedin account that I found Efraim. You see, Barry worked for IBM and had connections to people who worked for IBM in Israel. Efraim was also working for IBM -- and he was a suggested connection for Barry. I saw the name, "Efraim Yaffe" and suddenly was still. I stared at the name -- all the years I had searched for him I was searching on "Ephraim Yaffe" and not on "Efraim Yaffe".

I found myself floundering for a few minutes trying to decide if I should contact him and find out if he is the same Efraim Yaffe I knew thirty years prior. I decided in favor. I quickly typed out a brief email, with references to that time of our lives, asking if he was indeed who I was searching for. Within a few hours I received an email. It was him!!

We quickly exchanged a flurry of emails in attempt to catch up on each others lives. He married one of the other participants in the Ulpan I was in at Kibbutz Shluchot. He has a dog. (The dog died recently). I was married. I have one daughter. She is married. I have a grandson. And so on and so forth...

Yesterday, we finally met once again. We met at Cafe Cafe on Rechov Ben Gurion in Ramat Gan. It was great to see him. He looks terrific. Chloe and Gavriel were with me and so he met them too, and they, he. We both still are amazed that we were able to find one another after all these years and see one another. We talked about the possibility of setting up some kind of reunion for those of us who were at the kibbutz during those years. We shall see if that actually happens.
It has been quite an eventful visit for me. And, not quite over yet...