Sunday, September 2, 2012

8/2/12: A Perfect Friday And A Moments Reflection

Since I last wrote to you on August the 18th, my sister left Israel to return to the states, I finished my Ulpan until I return home to Israel at the end of October, I lost my precious cell phone in one of Israel's thousands of taxis, said goodbye to my dear friend Susanna who left Israel to return to her life in the United States, said goodbye to three of my roommates who went on vacation and who I will not see until I return in October, and made it through my first month without Stephane in Tel Aviv.

Needless to say it has been a rather trying few weeks both without a phone and having to say goodbye to one of my dearest friends who I will miss very, very much. Thank goodness my Tel Aviv friend pool is steadily growing (thanks in large part to my roommates), Ida is here, and I talk to Stephane on the phone or skype at least once a day, or it would have been a fairly lonely last few weeks here before my vacation.

I will preface what I say next by saying that I absolutely love everything about living in Israel, especially the freedom it has given me to start my own life, and forge my own path, away from the various opinions and influences of my family. However, along with the joys of this kind of freedom sometimes it is a bit hard being so far away and completely on my own. However, no matter the hardships I experience here, it always seems that I have someone upstairs watching over me ready to fix my problems before they become anything more than a slight, and very occasional, hardship. In recent weeks I have met and forged relationships with dear family friends of my grandparents who I now know I can call on if ever I needed anything, I have two wonderful people in Tel Aviv (also friends of my grandparents) who have, over the past 3 years, become like adoptive grandparents to me, and now, to complete my Israeli family, I now have someone who I can call my Israeli mom, and when you are a young woman whose mother is so far away, it can never hurt to "borrow" someone else's mom :-)

It all started the night I lost my phone, which also happened to be the first night since I moved to Israel that I got legitimately sick. I felt so awful, was in a panic over my phone (I know it sounds crazy but I am very reliant on that little gem of technology), and the two people who usually know how to make me feel better when I'm down or out of spirits were both very far away from me. The next day, after talking on the phone with Stephane and my mom, who both could only do so much for me being in Australia and California, I was told by Stephane to contact his mother who wanted to get in touch with me. I borrowed my roommates phone, called her, and what happened next was like the greatest medicine for anyone feeling down and alone. I have met Stephane's mother many times but because she  speaks only Hebrew and French we have only recently been able to communicate well. While I was on the phone with her she told me that she was going to be like my Israeli mother and if I ever needed anything (and she stressed "anything), I was to come to her. Just a few words of comfort and encouragement from her and suddenly I didn't feel so family-less. Not to mention the fact that I conducted this whole conversation completely in Hebrew (that didn't hurt in making me feel better!)

The next week Stephane's mom got in touch with me again and extended an invitation to both me and my sister Ida to join her at her home for Shabbat dinner. Wanting to see her and thank her for all of her help in person, and remembering what an amazing cook she is, I was only too ecstatic to accept her invitation. I won't deny that I was a bit nervous about the language barrier, especially since my handy translator is off exploring the land down under, but I wasn't going to let that stop me.

Friday night arrived and around 7:30 I met Ida close to her dorms and from there we walked a couple blocks down the road to Stephane's apartment. When we arrived the house was all set up for Shabbat, Stephane's adorable little brother was there to let us in, and his mom was soon to return from a friend's birthday party. To fill the time while we were waiting I spent about 25-30 minutes running around the apartment playing a hybrid game of balloon dodgeball with Stephane's little brother. I've never seen a child with more energy, but it was a lot of fun!!! I got my exercise for the night that is for sure.

Shabbat Shalom! 

The cutest little boy in the whole world! 

After about 30 minutes Stephane's mom returned home and it was almost time for dinner. While we were helping her get the food on the table naturally we talked about how much we all missed Stephane, and once that conversation was over it was time to eat! Stephane's mom said the Kiddush (blessing for the wine), his little brother said the Motzi (blessing for the bread), and then it was time to eat! We had the most wonderful chicken stuffed with mushrooms, vegetables, rice, grape leaves stuffed with meat, bread, egg salad, and cabbage salad! It was such a feast and one thing was more delicious than the next.

Bon Appetite! 
When dinner was finished, and to say that I was in a complete food coma would be a gross understatement, we prepared for dessert, continued to have great conversation, and then retired to the sitting room. The desserts in Israel are really amazing and Stephane's mom prepared a gorgeous fruit platter for all of us. Even though I didn't have much room in my stomach I ate as much as I humanly could; it was too delicious to pass up!

After dessert we talked for a little while longer and then said all of our goodbyes. It was the perfect 3 hours and the fact that I was not only able to talk , but have surprisingly good conversations, was really one of the greatest aspects of the evening. As I walked to the door I was assured one more time to come straight to her should I ever need anything, and with that I said my goodbyes and told her that I would see her again very soon. I returned home that night feeling better than I have in a long time knowing that if I'm ever really missing family, I can just walk down the street and one is right there! I'm also so glad that Ida was able to come with me to meet everyone. Not only do I now have Stephane's family to turn to if I ever need anything, but my own sister who is here and close to me! It is really perfect! The only thing that could have made the night better was if Stephane were home, but he will be back soon enough :-)

My Israeli mom! 

Me and my sissy! 

In one week I travel back to the United States for 5 and a half weeks so this week will be spent saying goodbye to everyone from my program who is about to leave Israel, wrapping up some last minute affairs here, and then ready myself for a wonderful, long vacation. The best part is when I return home a certain someone comes back a short week later!

Until we meet again <3,

Jordana Simone

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