Saturday, April 21, 2012

Back to School...Israel Style

Back to School...Israel Style

It’s been a while since I last wrote and we are settling into more of a routine now.  The kids started school on Sunday (yes Sunday!) this week, right after Pesach.  We had prepped them to be ready for a big change from what they are used to at HMJDS (i.e. classes in Israel are usually 30+ kids, classroom decorum is questionable and Israeli kids can be a little pushier/impatient). We told them that they might not understand everything right away, that it might take a while to make friends, etc.  We too were prepared for tears and stomach aches.  

My heart sort of dropped as we left them in class – leaving these little kids to fend for themselves in the unknown.  But, amazingly, the reports at the end of the day were positive and no tears!  Yonah had already copied the weekly schedule into his planner and was excited for the variety of classes.  Koby and Micah are already referring to the kids in the class as friends (even though they don’t know names yet).  Now on the third day of school, we can say so far so good!  Who knows what will come once the novelty wears off, but we are happy for each good day!

Yonah had been excited to start and went in with a great attitude.  (We have been thoroughly impressed by his maturity and willingness to try new things.)  Koby and Micah were much more anxious.  Upon arriving at the school, we were very warmly greeted.  I credit the kids with a lot of bravery.  It’s not easy to walk into a strange situation – in a different language – and be expected to just join in with only 2 ½ months of school left!  But the school as well deserves credit- they have been accommodating and welcoming.  

And let’s not forget little Amichai.  He too is going to Gan (pre-school) not far from the elementary school.  He was excited to go and he walked in smiling.  Again, the staff was lovely and took him by the hand to show him around.  There are also some English speaking kids at the pre-school which allows him to chat away and actually be understood.  It’s a sweet place and I think he’ll have fun and hopefully pick up the Hebrew while he’s there.

The rental car is back at the airport and we are now reliant on our feet or public transportation to get around.  The elementary school is about a 15 minute walk from our apartment, and the Gan another 5-10 minutes past that.  It took us a day or so to find the best route and we have now located the shortcut that takes us by a little outdoor “farm” with animals (ducks, geese, goats and chickens) that belongs to another school in the area.  Going to school is downhill, but coming back is…well, uphill (In Jerusalem, getting most anywhere involves hills and it usually feels like you’re going up!)  Yesterday, our 20 minute walk to school with Amichai turned into a 45 minute walk home with a tired boy on 4½ year old legs!  Good thing we’re not rushing anywhere. 

Now that we are pedestrians, we are getting to know our neighborhood better.  Jerusalem is divided into many different neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality and population.  We live in Talbieh (for those that know, we are around the corner from the Inbal Hotel and Liberty Bell Park), a centrally-located and fairly well-to-do neighborhood with many Anglos (what they call English speakers), as well as French.  We have learned that this area used to belong to the Greek Orthodox Church.  When funding from overseas dried up (due mostly to the rise of Communism and the outlaw of religion), the Church was forced to sell its land.  Wealthy German Jews (hence the German Colony nearby) and wealthy Arabs were those who were able to purchase land in the 1930s.  There are some beautiful historic buildings from that time on the streets surrounding us.  We live across the street from a monastery.  They make quiet and interesting neighbors.  From our second floor balcony (where I sit to write on this beautiful, sunny Jerusalem morning), we can see into their well-kept grounds.  Between the hotel and park I mentioned earlier, there is a school.  Instead of a traditional school bell, they play “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles in between classes.  Sort of funny to be sitting at home and all of a sudden, the Beatles are singing (wait, and singing…and singing…)!

Now that the kids are settled into a routine (mostly), it is tempting for me and Alexander to wander neighborhoods, taste from bakeries/restaurants (we did treat ourselves to some hametz and adult time at a coffee shop after dropping the kids on their first day) and browse in shops all day.  However, we are looking into various places to study and hope to begin taking classes later this week or next.  Time to recharge intellectually...

Alexander has taken over the kitchen, preparing meals and lunches for the kids (who’s on sabbatical now?!).  Our kitchen supplies here are limited, so even when I want to help, there’s only one sharp knife, one cutting board, etc.  Oh well!  

It’s later in the day now.  Kids are back from school and another successful day!  Yeah!!!

Here are a few photos of some relatively recent outings...

Koby with Jerusalem surroundings in background
Boys usual.

Ice cream whenever possible! (At Kibbutz Yotvata)

Picnicking in the Judean Hills.

Trying to get through the narrowest tunnel yet!

No comments:

Post a Comment