trine Ben-Aish 88 298.
(photo credit: MEREDITH PRICE)
On his way to Thailand in 2001, Dudu Ben-Aish decided to visit a friend in Denmark. Two days before leaving Copenhagen, he met Trine, 35, a beautiful blonde Dane who joined him in Thailand for a vacation. They had no idea what the future held.
"Before I met Dudu, I didn't know much about Israel other than that there are lots of kibbutzim here, and they don't get along very well with the neighbors," says Trine Ben-Aish, glancing over at the baby monitor on the computer table nearby. "When I was debating about whether or not to join Dudu in Thailand - whom I met at a friend's house in Copenhagen and had only known for two days - my friend Simon laid out three options: 'One, you won't like him at all but you'll get a great vacation in Thailand. Two, you'll like him a little and you'll have a built-in holiday fling. Or three, you will fall madly in love with him and be completely screwed.' I remember him telling me that I should really go for one of the first two options," Trine says, laughing at the memory. "Obviously, I didn't follow his advice."
One year later, Trine quit her job in Copenhagen and joined Dudu in Tel Aviv. In August, 2003, the couple was married in the Copenhagen city hall. On October 27, 2005, the couple welcomed fraternal twin boys, Jonathan and Noam, into the world at Ichilov Hospital.
Born in Copenhagen in 1971, Trine spent all of her adolescent and young adult years in the city. Like many Danes, she traveled for six months through the Far East before starting her degree in Danish literature and modern culture at the University of Copenhagen. "My first job out of university was with a media company that had an Internet site," says Trine, who was responsible for on-line editing and content. "When I met Dudu, I was between jobs, so I was able to take a vacation before I started working at another hi-tech company."
In July 2002, Trine moved to Tel Aviv at the height of the summer humidity. Accustomed to the Danish climate, she had visited Dudu in December and April, but was completely unprepared for the intense Israeli heat.
"I thought I was going to be spending my time strolling through the city, and exploring my new home," she says. "Instead, I landed in 40 weather with 90 percent humidity. I can remember just trying to paint some chairs with the windows open made me cry from heat exhaustion. I was so hot I walked around with a wet towel on my head, barely clothed, and couldn't even muster the energy to leave the apartment. Going outside was a total nightmare."
Another major difference from her home country is the age of the city, and Trine says that while at first she was unpleasantly surprised by the esthetics, the energy and vitality of such a young place amazed her. "From my first visit here, I knew I could live here and enjoy myself. I am constantly in awe of how quickly and constantly things are changing. It's such a fascinating place because it's so young and yet so accomplished in so many areas."
Going from the fast-paced world of hi-tech to taking some time off in Tel Aviv was a nice change. She studied Hebrew at Ulpan Gordon for five months and made clothing to sell in shops around town in her spare time. "We weren't really settled here yet, so I didn't work much for the first few months. I found a position in business development at a start-up and worked there for five months part-time," says Trine. "It was an easy-going period of time."
Trine has two brothers, Lasse and Kasper, who both live in Copenhagen near the rest of her extended family. Her parents, Anne and Frank, make frequent trips to Israel. "My dad is a retired engineer and he loves the beach, so he was here this winter to help us with the boys and enjoy the sun. He took long walks along the beach and went to ulpan," says Trine, whose mom, a Danish teacher, was in Tel Aviv this fall for a few weeks. Her older brother Lasse and his wife Pia have two daughters, and Kasper, who is still studying, is single. Trine's grandfather was in the resistance movement during World War II, and her grandmother used to smuggle arms for them in her baby carriage with Anne inside.
"She used to get the weapons across Copenhagen in her stroller," says Trine. "But one day she narrowly escaped being captured in a raid with my mom in the carriage and she decided that was enough, so she quit doing it."
For the first few years here, Trine says she didn't have many Danish friends, but after getting pregnant with the twins, she found an Internet site with Danish women living in Israel and has met many. By chance, a neighbor with a young son is also Danish. "Most of my friends are English speakers from abroad - American, British, German, Australian, and Swedish," she says.
In December 2003, a few months after their wedding, Trine found a position as PR and marketing manager at ICQ in Tel Aviv. "I work solely in English, with international PR," says Trine, who took four months of maternity leave when the twins were born. "Because they were twins and they were premature, I got an extra month, and after that I started to go back to work slowly until this June, when I began working part-time."
Just one block away from the Tel Aviv beachfront promenade, Trine, Dudu and the boys live in a spacious, two-bedroom apartment. "It's nice to be close to the sea. We take a lot of walks along the beach, and the boys love the water." Dudu takes advantage of early morning spear fishing before heading to work and enjoys weekend games of beach volleyball almost year-round.
"We're waiting for the kids to grow older, so we can get a life again, and in the meantime we're trying to catch some sleep here and there," says Trine, who wakes up with the boys several times every night. Hagit, the nanny, arrives at 8:30. Both Trine and Dudu leave for work when she arrives, and Trine returns at 3:30. Dudu sometimes works long hours, but on good days, he's home to help Trine with the bathing, feeding ritual. "I usually start bathing them around 7 and put them to bed around 8:30," she says.
"You must mean before the twins, right?" says Trine. "I used to read books and make clothes. Before I had babies, I did some sewing. I thought I would make all of their baby clothes, but I just don't have the time." She also laments the reduction in nights out with girlfriends for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee because of the constant sleep deprivation.
"I was never baptized and my family is completely secular, but I was raised in a Christian culture," Trine explains. "We never went to church, but we celebrated Christmas and Easter because it's more cultural than religious." After her marriage, Trine converted to Judaism.
A native speaker of Danish and quasi-native user of English, Trine says she can get by in Hebrew but much prefers to communicate in her other languages. "I speak Hebrew with Dudu's parents because they don't speak any English, but if I can avoid using Hebrew, I do," she says. "I never thought I would be that way, but I'm just not comfortable in Hebrew. It doesn't feel natural to me."
"I'm Danish," she says. "And aside from the terrorism and the conflicts, the thing that annoys me the most about Israel is the lack of concern for the environment. It's so sad to go to the beach and find that the family before you has left their diapers, their empty humous containers, their plastic forks and spoons and their cigarette butts."
"Right now, we're in limbo about whether to leave Tel Aviv and move to a moshav with a proper garden and house, the way I grew up, or stay in the city we love so much," says Trine. "We're open to everything, and who knows, one day we may even move back to Denmark."
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