Two weeks before my flight I panicked, but I wouldn’t dare tell anyone that I had thoughts of backing out. Somehow I got over the fear, or was too chicken to admit to my friends and family that I was thinking of staying, and I got on the plane to Israel. Besides for a place to sleep for the first week or so, my plans were pretty vague. I wanted to live in Tel Aviv, but the place I found with a free bed and roof, was in Ma’alot Dafna, so I began my new life there. I cried myself to sleep the first night.
I studied Hebrew at Ulpan. I got a job waitressing at Agas V’Tapuach. I began the five-year director’s track at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School. In Hebrew. I am currently in my fourth year. I’m still stuck on the idea for my diploma film, but I am so thankful every day that I am in this strange and wonderful place. I don’t want school to end because I love it, and also I have no idea what the future holds. I try not to think about it too much.
As for Agas V’Tapuach, I’m still a waitress there. It’s a family restaurant, and I’ve become a part of their family. I go to the owner’s for Shabbat meals, they helped me move a few times, and their daughter has become a good friend.
Sometimes things are tough, but I wrote this list to remind myself why I’ve stayed in Israel.
- I had a few heartbreaks, and now I’ve finally found a mensch… for now…
- I have great friends, many of whom I try to convince not to move to Tel Aviv.
- I have the city of Jerusalem, which is beautiful, and lively, full of secrets, and delicious (not literally).
- I have short-term goals.
- I haven’t had a cavity in four years.
- I have two great, Israeli, roommates.
- I have a cheese guy, and a coffee guy.
- I have special Israeli bureaucratic experiences that I will always cherish and quote.
- I still have my American accent that I hope not to ever lose.
- I have free health insurance.
- I am more confident around cats.
- I have dreams.
- I made a few short films that got good responses.
- I have a minus in the bank, which makes me feel more acclimated.
- I have learned to love drinking coffee in a café on a Friday morning.
- I don’t always have Shabbat plans until Friday.
- I only eat donuts during Chanukah.
Those are only a few, but I could go on.
The first time I returned to New York to visit after I moved to Israel, I was scared I would get back on the plane to Israel and regret it… but that didn’t happen. In America I felt welcomed, and I had a few authentic hot pastrami sandwiches on rye with coleslaw and a pickle, but when I landed in Israel I felt that New York was a great place, but just not for me. Feeling nauseous on the sherut back to my apartment I thought to myself, “I may be paying rent, and I don’t have a house, but at least I have a home.”