Halfway There

I truly don’t know how I got here to be writing a blog post about being halfway through my wonderful program.  It seems like just yesterday I was meeting my new roommates and moving into my apartment in Migdal HaEmek.  But, as my roommate so kindly reminded me as I began this blog, today marks our 5 month “anniversary” of living in this apartment together.  I cannot believe how fast time has flown!  These last 5 months have been filled with amazing new friends, memories, trips, and experiences that can only be explained as once in a lifetime!  Since the halfway point snuck up on me so fast, I thought I would take the time to compile my thoughts and share my experiences up through this point.

Most importantly in this journey, has been working in the school.  I am very blessed to have an incredible host teacher that I get to work with almost everyday.  She is always open to new ideas, and we work extremely well together.  I truly feel as though we have become close friends over the course of the last few months.  She has already invited me to spend the upcoming Passover Seder with her and her family.  In the small groups I pull, I am having so much fun.  It is amazing to be able to play games with my students that get them interested in and actually speaking the English language.  Every class starts with a ball.  I ask a basic question, like “What’s your name?” or “What is your favorite food?” and toss the ball to a student, who then answers.  Even though my students know to every lesson starts this way, they are always so excited when they see me take the ball out of my bag!  We recently got 2 new students, a 4th grader and a 6th grader, who have previously lived in Miami for two years.  My teacher is worried that they may lose their English because it is not spoken very often in the north of Israel, so I have been working closely with the 4th grader.  I found some reading comprehension tasks and some kindle books that are closer to her reading level, so that she can continue to progress.  We also spent almost an entire lesson, sitting and just talking, which was truly incredible.  She had so much fun telling me about her pet snake and about life in Miami.  It has been incredible to offer her the opportunity to just sit and talk in English, because none of her friends, and most of her teachers, are not able to offer the same thing.

Outside of school, living in Migdal HaEmek has been amazing.  Our apartment is the perfect size for us and to have friends over from time to time.  And, the first bar in Migdal HaEmek has officially opened, right outside of our building!  A man, who previously lived in the states and had bars in New York and Florida decided to move back home and open a sports bar here.  He gets all of the Israeli games, like basketball and football (the real kind), but also has channels to watch American sports!  The first time I ventured down to the bar, there happened to be a Red Wings game on, and I got to cheer on my favorite hockey team from halfway around the world, even if they are doing absolutely terrible this year.  Maybe my being able to watch them and cheer them on, they’ll be able to turn this season around and actually start winning!  I’m still not quite sure how life will go on if they don’t make the playoffs, I’ve never been alive to see that!  We had planned to throw a Superbowl party there tomorrow, but since kickoff is so late, the game isn’t actually until around 3 am here.

For Shabbat, when I don’t go to Tel Aviv, I have had the amazing opportunity to go to different host families to share Shabbat dinner with them.  The last few weeks, my roommate and I have gone together to three different families, all of whom are amazing.  I feel so connected to both the land and the people here, I am truly feeling more at home in
Israel every single day.

In the next five months, I have a lot that I am looking forward to.  I am planning my first ever trip to Europe, in which I will visit Berlin, Amsterdam, and London.  I get to spend my first Passover in the Holy Land.  Every year, at the Passover Seder, we say “Next year in Jerusalem,” and, this year, I will be in the Land of Milk and Honey to celebrate the holiday.  In addition to Passover, we have Purim, Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day), Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day), and Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).  Growing up as a Jew in the US, I learned about all of these holidays in Sunday school, but getting to actually celebrate these holidays IN Israel is such an amazing opportunity, that I am very much looking forward to.  There is also an upcoming Detroit Birthright trip coming in May that not only will I be helping to plan some of, but hopefully my brother will be on the trip, so I will get the chance to see him as well!

As far as what’s next?  I am still unsure.   While I still have another 5 months left on my program, I can tell you now that my time in Israel is not over.  I just had my second interview for a summer English teaching program here, that would extend my stay at least through the end of July.  While I wait to hear back if I have gotten accepted or not, I am already looking into job opportunities here in Israel, if I were to decide to stay.  I know of another year long teaching program that I have begun to look at, but I am not sure if I am eligible yet.  If I were be afforded the amazing opportunity to take part in both the summer program and the year-long program, I would hopefully have the chance to come back home to see friends in August.  If I end up not being able to do the year long program, I think my current plan is to move back home for a few months while I file the paperwork to move back here.  And, even with that idea, plans change.  I have no idea what the next five months will give me.

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