IV. Parents’ Language Acquisition:
We might need help talking to school administrators (I will devote time to ulpan. Currently, lo metaberet Ivrit. Computer Cowboy will do evening Ulpan; he will earn our parnasa.
As aforementioned, we hired a guide to take me around to potential schools for the kids. That fellow was gracious, encouraging, and non-threatening, at least to me (he knew how to “speak” to school officials). Yet, it was our realtor who helped us find a school for Missy Younger. Also, neither of the boys stayed in their original schools for more than two years. We’ve since learned that Israelis change schools more readily than do North Americans.
From our hired help, I learned, as well, that “no,” among negotiating Israelis, means “give me some reasons why we should” and that “no room” means “where is your protexia” or “call me next week, I’m having a busy morning.” I hope never to have to repeat the process of figuring out the unspoken strictures of a society when concurrently not being literate in the local language. At those initial meetings, I could not read school officials’ non-verbals, could not contextualize their remarks, and could not understand anything said to my face.
As for ulpan, given my many and assorted health challenges, I have attained a record amount of dropout billings at public and private schools. To wit, today, I am barely at the daled level of Hebrew comprehension. The best I can offer is that I’ve evolved from an individual who knew the street signs, which she could not read, were in Hebrew, to an individual with a command of a few hundred words. Said differently, instead of Israelis insisting on speaking English to me, when I open my yap, these days, they insist on correcting my Hebrew. Next, I hope to be able to read the many propaganda sheets, I mean, news sources, written in the local tongue.
As for Computer Cowboy, his workplace paid for tutors to come to his office to teach him, like me, though, during the years we’ve merited, so far, to live here, he’s been distracted by others of life’s goings on. To date, his comprehension is remarkable, his vocabulary is decent, but his prognosis for getting more proficient, any time soon, is confounded by his professional responsibilities. At least his employer, a European company with offices all over the world, insists that English is their language of operation.
V. My Employment:
I was a professor, but I need to learn Hebrew this coming year before I return to tormenting college-age students. If folks are interested, I could set up workshops in creative writing and/or in art when we get settled. I am also a first level herbalist, but I need to learn more about the plants native to Israel before I offer those services.
After making aliyah, I taught at a college and at a university here. I discovered several things about myself in relationship to this land: I don’t like empowering my ethnic cousins by teaching them critical and creative thinking; in most cases, folks with less education than me, but with more protexia, are entrenched in jobs I’d love to have; and, outside of English Departments, one really does need, especially when teaching subjects like textual analysis, a mastery of Hebrew.
Although I did and do continue to teach creative writing courses from my home and from various continuing education-type venues, I never offered an art chug. I’d rather devote building my own ceramics or painting my own pictures than bother with the effort required for the relatively small amount of money such proctoring would involve. The writing I can’t help but teach since it’s integral to me.
Last, I still practice herbal medicine as well as practice select types of hands on therapies for my family and closest friends. I won’t, however, much to the chagrin of a Persian, Israeli dear one, sell those services. That healer, herself a reiki practitioner, has been urging me, from the time of our arrival to the Holy Land, to sell that know-how. For better or worse, I’m still too New World to do so without licensure. The needed papers, in turn, either don’t exist in our corner of the Middle East or are too much of a bother to acquire. I jumped enough hoops just to get the Office of Education to recognize my three university degrees (and, I hear, b’ayin tova, that my path to certification was relatively easy).
My books and papers, as well as the classes that I taught, were in sociology, philosophy, rhetoric, and communication, especially in communication ethics. I do not think that I am open for tutoring during my first year, but I am open to creative ways to earn parnasa.
Without going into details, one thing lead to another and I returned to creative writing. Last year, French Creek Press published a book of my essays, Oblivious to the Obvious: Wishfully Mindful Parenting. This year, B’ezrat Hashem, will see the launch of a full-length collection of my poetry, by Unbound CONTENT, A Bank Robber’s Bad Luck with His Ex-Girlfriend, and, next year will witness, B’ezrat Hashem, Bards & Sages Publishing’s broadcast of a collection of nearly six dozen of my brief fictions, Don’t Pet the Sweaty Things. To boot, editors here, in North America, in Europe, in Oceania, and in the Far East, have kindly printed a few hundred of my freestanding essays, poems, and stories, included me on their mastheads as a columnist, as a blogger or as an editor, and have even nominated me for the Pushcart Prize!
And yet, my writing is tempered by other, at least equally important factors in my life. My family and I try not to lose sight of why we made aliyah.
Our reality proved to be different from anything we can think up, but, simultaneously, better than our wildest imaginings. That is, our life as olim has not been the stuff of storybooks, but the gist of narrative. Such seemingly topsy-turvy living, truly, is one blessing after another. From pilot trips to housing, schooling, language acquisition and employment, my family’s acculturation has been a gift.
Hopefully your aliyah experience, like ours, will be better than anything you can imagine. Certainly, it can be.