Friday, May 4, 2012

Transition to the Workplace

Shalom, chaverim! We are now in the unusual situation of having had an entire week without any holidays. However, that will change once more next week, when we first have a day off from Ulpan on Tuesday because it's a teachers' inservice day. Lag B'Omer starts on Wednesday night, which means we also have Thursday off. And then of course it's Friday, which we always have off, and Saturday is Shabbat, so we have that off too. Given the amount of holidays Israelis have, it's amazing that Israel has accomplished so much in such a short time.  Also, given the national respect for Shabbat and time with family, I'm not surprised that Israel scores so high on indices for happiness and longevity. For example, the father of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just died this week, at the age of 102.

Speaking of time off, we are getting into a nice rhythm with our lives here. Sunday to Thursday, we get up bright and early at 6:30 a.m. and are in class at 8:00 a.m. sharp (with the exception of  holidays, of course). Class goes until 12:15, and then we usually do errands on the way home. Lunch is around 1 p.m., and then we mess around on our computers. I also clean house or do laundry, and we take numerous little chunks of time to play with our kittens Pini and Dudu.

At around 4 p.m., we have coffee, look at the sea, and watch "Mr. and Mrs. Bird," two sparrows who have made their nest in a hole in our neighbor's wall. We have figured out that "Blondini's" rendevous with her drug-dealing sugar daddy usually happens on Sundays and Wednesdays, early in the morning. Elul sees her more than I do, though, because she usually meets him when it's my turn to be in the shower. (Seeing them grosses me out anyway--eww!) Alternate afternoons, we go to the gym and work out, and then it's home for dinner, followed by homework, pleasure reading, or watching television. I'm in bed at 10:00 p.m. sharp, and then it's lather, rinse, repeat.

It's hard to believe that this honeymoon period will be over in less than two months now. For the past two days, we've been studying Hebrew related to "avodah," or the four-letter word known as WORK. "Interview," "experience," "character reference letter," and "college degree" have been taught to us as new and important pieces of vocabulary. Once Ulpan is over, we'll be registering with a government office that deals with job placement and unemployment benefits, and we'll get some counselling as to what types of work we might be suited for. I expect my counselling will go something like what is shown in the following "Monty Python's Flying Circus" clip.  (As usual, if you can't see this YouTube link below in your email of this post, please go directly to the website at

I don't think it will be easy for us to find work, frankly, given our respective ages and lack of proficiency in Hebrew. But we'll do our best and see what we can come up with. I have a wonderful Israeli relation who came here from Russia in the 1970's, having been trained as a medical doctor. She did Ulpan, then went to a second Ulpan for medical terminology. But while she was waiting for her first job in medicine, she worked as a cleaner. Now she works at a residential hospital and has her own clinic. Heck, Golda Meier spent some early years here when her only gig was washing baby diapers by hand! So things take time, and we need to be patient with ourselves.

One of the odd things about "starting over" in mid-life is that strange experience of feeling like a complete novice about some things, and a world-weary, jaded cynic about other things. I am still at the point where I get a flush of pride when I manage to answer a sudden question in Hebrew with even a tiny bit of skill. For example, the other day I was sitting on a bench on the sidewalk, and a woman asked me what time it was. Not only did I understand the question, but I also managed to stammer out a response. I also showed her my watch so she could check my untrustworthy answer against reality.

But while getting jazzed about telling someone the time is great, talking about finding work brings up an entirely different set of emotional baggage. It reminds me of exactly how long I spent in the workforce, and what games go on there. It reminds me that I am not a kid anymore, and I really don't have my whole life in front of me...only what remains of it. And when I hear from other olim about what to look out for--e.g. shady recruiting tactics, unfair employment contracts, and so on--it reminds me that I've experienced these abuses before and have the battle scars to show for it.

However, you only fail if you quit or you never try in the first place, so I am choosing to think positively and be open to continual professional evolution. Which brings me to this week's video, a happy, funny, seven minute piece called "The Evolution of Dance."

Yes, it reminds me of how old I am. But it makes me laugh even more, because I've done nearly all those moves myself, including learning "The Twist" from my mother!

P.S. If you go to the "Blog Roll and Links" section of my blog, you will see instructions on how to go to the Facebook page for "Temple Sinai of Nahariya." This is a non-orthodox, egalitarian synagogue Elul and I started here (in our home!) in March. Our rabbi is Rabbi Golan Ben-Chorin of Haifa, Elul does the yeoman's work of organizing, promoting and fundraising, and I am the Cantorial Soloist. Also, we could not have done this without the vital assistance of Temple Sinai of Las Vegas, Nevada and Temple Sinai of Delray Beach, Florida, for which we are eternally grateful.

While I don't intend to make my own blog particularly focused on religion per se, establishing this synagogue has become a major part of our lives here.  If you're interested, "Like" us on Facebook to keep up with what's going on. With Elul's talents as a television journalist and independent filmmaker, you are also sure to see and hear plenty of excellent video, too.

Shabbat shalom, chaverim!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Selah, I mentioned to Elul in an email how heartening it is that against a backdrop of squabbling Semites and sub-standard sports coverage its still possible to find a Python fan.


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