Yesterday made one week since we arrived in Israel and we have felt warmly welcomed each day.

On our second night in town, we had dinner with my dear friend Yaffa’s family. Yaffa & I went to graduate school together at NYU and she and her husband Menachem have always taken care of me. I always spent holidays with them in NYC and when we found out we were moving to Haifa, they checked out our apt. for us, helped with the paperwork for Noah’s school, etc. Menachem is an amazing cook and you can feel his love when you eat one of his meals. They have 2 boys, Boaz (11) & Nimrod (9), who were very impressed with Noah’s ability to read the English instructions that popped up when they were playing video games.

Roy’s college friend Brian is married to Sara, whose sister Ibrah has lived in Haifa for 20 years. Sara graciously put me in touch with Ibrah before we moved and minutes after telling her that we’d arrived, Ibrah invited me to go Israeli dancing with her Mon. night. Fantastic! We drove to a community center about 30 mins. east of where we live. The first hour was instruction, which was just like the camp and Hebrew school dance lessons of my childhood . The second hour was regular dancing, which was hard because most everyone else knew the dances already, but was still great fun. The diversity of the women there was very interesting–religious/non-religious, young/old, serious dancers/those there to gossip…

Tues. I received a phone call from Osnat, one of the graduate students of my colleague Anat, who I have come here to work with, with an invitation to join her family tomorrow evening. She has a daughter Noah’s age and she insists, in that Israeli way, that she simply must help us get settled. I don’t think we have much more settling to do, but I appreciate the sentiment and would never refuse an invitation. She reminded me that it is part of the Israeli charm that when she says that they will pick us up at 5, that could mean a 40-min window.

Yesterday, my trooper-of-a-sister Deborah made the trip from Jerusalem to Haifa with her 2 youngest children to see us. A 2-hr bus ride, with 2 bus-sick children! That’s a wonderful welcome! We hadn’t seen each other in about 5 years – just after Noah was born Deborah came to NY for a wedding with Yitzchak, who is just a few months older than Noah. Since then, Chaya Rachel was born who we had not yet met. We were very excited to get the boys together since they are so close in age. Chaya Rachel is 2 and adorable and smart (of course). She looks exactly like Deborah did at that age. Roy & Noah came home from work/school early and we spent the afternoon together, mostly on our neighborhood playground. Yitzchak quizzed me on my Hebrew: “Do you know what is a shulchan [table]?” “Ken [yes].” “Do you know what is a yaldah [girl]?” “Ken.” “Do you know what is a delet [door]?” “Ken.” He did stump me with the word for roof, though. Haven’t learned that one yet. Yitzchak also taught us “kof“. When we were on the playground he said that he wanted to be the kof and that Roy & Noah should keep the ball away from him. Aha! Kof = monkey and he wants to play “monkey in the middle”.

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Noah also feels welcomed at his new school. He came home the other day very proud because during circle time his teacher told the group that he was special, because he came from the United States.