Hello, 2014! You’re Looking Mighty Fine.

Hello, 2014! You’re Looking Mighty Fine.


Friends, Family, and Loved ones,

I am sorry for being so out of the loop — we’ve been going through a time of transition, and can’t wait to tell you all about it! Since I don’t know exactly where to start, I think I’ll start from the beginning…

All of you know that Jonathan and I spent the year in Israel last year, and at some point throughout that adventure, we decided we wanted to spend more time here. Like, move here. So we did. After months of bureaucracy, waiting for the Israeli Consulate to end their four-month long strike, and a photo finish to the plane (literally a photo finish: my visa came in on the Thursday before the flight left…on Monday), we made it to Israel.

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Fresh off the plane and only a little worse for wear. Our row had two toddlers in it for half the flight and then the row behind us inherited them..I’m not sure which was worse.

Somehow, we’ve been here for three months. I’m going to do my best to fill you in on what they’ve had in store for us. (Hint: it includes a puppy!)

For the past three months, we’ve been renting a small apartment in Har Nof, the same neighborhood we lived in last year – actually, right across the street from our old apartment. It’s quaint with “American” fixtures, meaning nicer ceramic tiles and crown molding, which aren’t considered standard by any means for rentals here in Israel. It’s not where we’re going to be long term, but it’s cute, comfortable, and we’ve made a semblance of a home here for the short while we’re here. We (finally!) found a long term apartment, across the next street, complete with a large porch and extra bedrooms we’re planning to move into in the middle of February. Until then, we’re using this apartment half as storage and half as living space — and missing a proper kitchen.

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This is it – in all it’s glory. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with?

We’d only been here about a month when someone mentioned to me that they saw a puppy on facebook that was found abandoned on the street. Since they weren’t allowed animals in their apartment, I went home and discussed (re: begged) with Jonathan about getting a dog, something we’d been wanting to do for a long time, but never felt settled down enough. He told me, “Go get him (at the time we thought she was a him) before I change my mind,” so off I went to Hebrew University, where I met the dog who would later be called Lucy, once we unwrapped the towel she was swaddled in and saw she was in fact…a she.

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She was as shocked as we were!

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Loving on some yogurt as big as her head…

Lucy was tiny, only 4 weeks old, malnourished, and covered in fleas. I ran to the store and bought some goat’s milk and a baby bottle, which I fed her by hand, and tried to feed her some scrambled eggs, which she didn’t have much interest in. She slept the entire night (I woke up a thousand times to check on her), and in the morning discovered yogurt, her all-time favorite food. After trips to the vet, vaccinations, and two months of TLC, she’s a little demon, alternating between snuggling and chewing on my shirt-sleeve to get my attention as I’m typing this right now. Oh wait, now she’s asleep.

case in point.

case in point.

We love having Lucy, but we definitely underestimated the amount of responsibility involved in adopting a 4 week old puppy. Let me spell it out for you: basically, puppies can hold their bladders for 1 hour for every month they are alive, plus one hour. That meant that little Lucy could go a whopping 2 hours between being taken outside to go to the bathroom, or she would pee wherever she was. So for about one month, we’d set alarms for every 2 hours to take her out in the middle of the night, and make sure we never left her alone for longer than that. Then, the 2 hour rule got expanded to 3 hours when Lucy got another month older, except for one week that she was sick and had no control over her muscles at all. Thank goodness we tricked her into thinking her antibiotics were treats. Now, Lucy is an energetic, healthy, three and a half month puppy who keeps our hands and hearts full, and guards our home with her surprisingly loud bark.

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guarding our home from invited and uninvited guests.

Other than Lucy and our house-guest as pictured above (Simba, courtesy of our friends S&B), we had another amazing surprise so far in Israel – SNOW! I’m going to save the details for another post about what it’s like to experience a blizzard in a country with no snow plows, but I couldn’t resist adding a sneak preview of what’s to come…

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and that was the first day…

So, now that I’ve told you about our living arrangement and our new addition, what else occupies our time? Work. Which we do a lot of.

I LOVE my job. I work at a seminary called Baer Miriam, where I serve as the eim bayit, or house mother. This role entails everything from kissing boo-boos to studying with the girls, leading seminars, and even teaching a class for college credit, which I will be doing next semester. The best part of it all: inheriting 40 or so 18 & 19-year old pseudo-daughters for the school year. The girls keep my life fun and busy, with plenty of drama to boot. As someone who was a bit of a drama queen in high school, I think it’s a perfect fit.

I also work for another company called Pearl & Clasp, a luxury jewelry company that specializes in custom pieces, necklace clasps, and pearl restringing, where I am the Social Media Manager; meaning, I do freelance writing for fashion blogs and business websites that make mention of the business, and manage the facebook, google+, and twitter accounts for the company. This job helps me itch my writing bug, which also makes me feel guilty for not writing here, something I hope to change.

As for Jonathan, he’s putting his degree to good use by cooking for a girls’ school in our neighborhood and is trying to start his own personal catering company, Jerusalem Catering. He’s also studying a half day and helps me with pretty much everything (my girls call him Mr. Carly), so we’re definitely keeping busy. We’re also writing a cookbook with 52 cholent (overnight Shabbos Day) recipes. I’ll keep you posted as we’re looking for people to test out recipes in kitchens other than our own.

I think that pretty much sums up the past three months in 1000 words. I’m going to try to update more regularly (I’m starting to sound like a broken record) to keep everyone included in our life overseas.

Happy New Year, everyone! Especially Mom, Dad, Mom Mom, and Becca, who I miss very, very much and hope to see soon, even though you’re turning my bedroom into a gym. And Chelsea – can’t forget her.

 

Okay, Cupid?


Tu B’Av Sameach!

Appropriately, I’m also going to take this opportunity to wish my dear friends, C&A, a HUGE Mazel Tov on their engagement! It’s not official until it’s on the web, folks!

We certainly  have a lot to celebrate! Last night was the start of one of the happiest days of the year, Tu B’Av (the 15th of Av), which commemorates six miracles. One of these was the end of a plague that accompanied the Israelites in the desert as a result of their building the Golden Calf, which condemned all of the Jews in the desert to death (gloomy, right?). So anyway, that year, the last 15,000 people mentally, physically, and spiritually prepared themselves to die, and the day of doom (Tisha B’Av or the 9th of Av) came and went without anyone biting the dust. So, they had a typical Jewish reaction — they argued about the date. They thought maybe they were wrong, and that tomorrow was actually the 9th of Av, and then the next day, and then the next…conveniently, the Jewish calendar is based on Lunar cycles, and once the full moon came (on the 15th of Av) they knew that meant the decree had been lifted, and their sins had been forgiven! YAY!

With a little extra dose of divine intervention, G-d also gave Moses the opportunity to speak to Him once again (the highest form of prophecy), making the 15th of Av forever a day to celebrate relationships.

Some years later, when one tribe of the Jewish people realized they were about to die off (once again), some brave women took the future of humanity into their own hands and married men of what once was a forbidden tribe to marry into on the holy day of Tu B’Av, thus confirming what the wise Jewish people already knew – the 15th of Av was a day to celebrate relationships of all kind.

Some people count Tu B’Av as the Jewish Valentine’s Day – which is interesting, because while on the surface they are both days to celebrate love, they are two totally opposite types of love.

Valentine’s Day is a day that celebrates a  lusty, love-at-first sight kind of love that literally hits you like an arrow and then wears off as soon as Cupid sees fit. That kind of love doesn’t exist in Judaism, a religion that believes that there is no such thing as love at first sight or romance, instead subbing in the term passion for both of these things. Judaism believes that for one thing to be true, it has to be true in every single situation, so there can be no such thing as love at first sight because the world would literally be in chaos as people fell in love with their parents, siblings (ew, gross!), restaurants, foods, ect. The passion that Judaism recognizes in love is the same kind of passion that is present in every situation, meaning that whenever something is new and good it is like the initial joy at breaching the hill of a roller coaster — it’s a unique, exhilirating feeling when it happens, but it is also fleeting. This is true for everything — when I first started my job, I thought I would be here forever – I loved it! Trying a new food? I went a little leek crazy last week after realizing I was just cleaning them improperly (I know – sand is not good for digestion) and wanted to include them in every meal. Turns out there’s only so much leek soup one person can handle.

We can say the same for relationships. At the start of a new friendship, two people can’t learn enough about each other; can’t get enough of each other either and as soon as the novelty wears off, you start to notice those little quirks that may drive you up the wall; depending on how much you’ve invested into that relationship, you may choose to continue it or not. And we all know about “puppy love,” the love in the earliest stages of a love-relationship that’s a mixture of passion, infatuation, curiosity, and desire.

Obviously, this exhilaration is necessary for the survival of any relationship or people wouldn’t feel the urge to build new ones; if it didn’t have a purpose people would have developed a medical remedy to the feel-good warm and fuzzies that blind our judgement so severely with those gosh-darn rose-colored glasses.

That being said, Tu B’Av does have something to do with that initial passion, but that is precisely what makes the holiday so interesting. Love, in Judaism, isn’t viewed as a perpetual romantic comedy. It’s recognized that it’s not all pretty, and it’s recognized that there’s a lot of whirlwind (good and bad) associated with it.

In fact, under the chuppah, the couple is given a blessing that they should experience six different types of love, “mirth, song, delight (rejoicing), love (harmony), peace, and companionship.” These types of love are illustrated as a roller coaster, the initial flight up (mirth), the moment of extacy when the car goes over the hill (song), the descent down (delight), the moment at the bottom of the hill (harmony), and then the ascent can begin again with peace and companionship. Love has to be representative of the whole picture, and can’t be viewed only as that moment of extacy or initial infatuation.

So many people, when relationships start to get comfortable, say that the romance is gone — that they don’t feel the “spark” that made them so sure once the relationship began. The spark is important, for sure, but it’s not the whole love experience. Love is an undercurrent of every aspect of life, from the mundane Sunday morning to the passionate fire of Friday night — without the mundane, the passion cannot exist.

Most religious couples don’t meet the way that Jonathan and I did, nor do they meet at such a young age. I’d like to say that we are lucky enough to have experienced a lot of that initial passion and excitement, more so than other people, but that wouldn’t be completely true. In those moments, we felt (and still feel) a little out of control of our feelings. We’re run totally by hormones, and (trust me!) that is not always the healthiest way to conduct a relationship. Fire is a dangerous tool to have on the bridge of a ship; it can burn down the entire ocean.

I don’t know when we realized that this was going to be the forever kind of love, but I think that we both realized early on that fiery passion isn’t the kind of love that’s easily sustained. Instead, it’s the safe kind of sweatpants on a Sunday love, the trips to the supermarket love, the kind of love that makes you feel you have two feet planted firmly on the ground but you could fall back and have someone catch you kind of love that we wanted to water and nurture to watch it grow.

This brings me back to the idea of Tu B’Av. Like I said earlier, Tu B’Av is a holiday that celebrates all types of relationships. All stages of relationships. And it, like many other Jewish holidays/concepts, helps us to realize so much about the world that we live in.

I love roller coasters. Jonathan and I were supposed to go to Six Flags yesterday, but we got rained out. I love roller coasters because I love the feeling of being out of control, but safely buckled in. I love the feeling of going up a hill right after being whirled around a corner, that slow and steady uphill that promises the fast, stomach churning descent is right over the bend.

But you know what I love more? I love feeling safe, with both feet on the ground, once the ride is over. And that’s the real kind of love – the kind of love that promises to take you on trips and adventures and to make you feel like you’re out of control…but at the end of the day, stands next to you, both feet on the ground.

C&A, B&D, J, and every other person in a relationship or looking for a relationship on the blogosphere: you should fully experience the full picture of love every day for the rest of your lives.