30 June, 2009

Tying Up all the Loose Ends

Even when it seems that all the big things are done (getting Aliyah approval, getting the visa, arranging to be on a charter flight, yada-yada-yada) there is still more to do; it is never ending.

Tomorrow I am closing on the sale of a property to my son, then finalizing some legal issues with my estate, then taking care of some banking matters, and then having - ugh - dental work done.

Thursday I am finishing the paperwork to get one of my rentals signed up with a new property manager, attending a memorial event for my husband who died last year (it would be his 60th birthday that day), then attending the Bon Voyage party my daughter is giving me.

Friday I will check my bags again - to make sure nothing was forgotten, pick up the cake I am taking to shul, and go to services at Beth Tefillah for the next to last time. (Saturday morning will be the last time, and I am taking another cake then, as well as other food.)

Sunday, I will shlep two gigantic bags, a carry-on, and one "personal item" (i.e. -a second carry-on) to the Tampa International Airport to fly to JFK. This will be the first time in a long time that I have checked luggage; I am normally a carry-on only type. On Monday I get to do the check luggage thing all over again, but this time on an El Al charter, not Delta. It will actually be my first El Al flight

I know, it doesn't really sound like that much to do, but the fact that I no longer have a car makes it seem a little overwhelming. If it weren't for good friends and family members I couldn't get it done.

19 June, 2009


I am in awe as I gaze upon a grainy black and white photo of me on a State of Israel Aliyah Visa. While some people might find the photo, and indeed the entire visa, unattractive, let me tell you that this is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful things I have ever beheld, and definitely the most beautiful thing I have seen this week. Hine Ma Tov!

The visa is certainly one of the blessings for which I will be thanking HaShem this Shabbat. What about you? As the Shabbat nears, what beautiful thing have you seen this week, for which you can be grateful to HaShem? I would love to read comments expressing the good things you have recently beheld.

18 June, 2009


"$20 or you'll never see him alive again!" The message and photo came yesterday. Today, I am happy to say, Gary Gopher has been rescued!

If you do not know this little guy, here is some background. He is the grandson of the gopher who starred in Caddy Shack, back in 1980. Gary tried the golf course life but it just wasn't for him. He wanted to see the world - from above ground. We met when he was seeking a position working with children. He has lived in my classroom for six years, while working as the Head Animal Guide. He helped take students on virtual tours of the world, as we studied geography. Most of his friends are 12 year olds, who are used to seeing him in his safari suit with backpack, but here you see him dressed for his next, and most important adventure ever - making Aliyah to Haifa, Israel.

In this photo, Gary is being held from the balcony railing outside a rental condo I own. I have been storing some things there while sorting and packing for the journey to Israel. Gary has been house-sitting the property. This building - Sea Castle Condominiums in Gulf Harbors - is supposed to be very secure. There is a fob system to get in the building, and each fob has its own id number so they can track who is coming and going. Also, there are security cameras. It just goes to show, Jews are not safe anywhere. I am making this point, because I am tired of hearing, "Israel!!? Aren't your worried that it is dangerous there?"

16 June, 2009

THE LOOK (the consulate saga continues)

In the last post, believe it or not, I did not share all the details. I mean, really, what am I writing - a book? Anyway, I had just gone into the locked room where you get in line to do the actual applying, and I saw the people in line in front of me pulling their passport photos out of an envelope. I realized that my passport photos were in the leather portfolio with the offending calculator, that had been locked in a second room across the hall.

I pushed the buzzer to ask to be let out into the hall. Then once in the hall, I buzzed the third room - where the intake officer goes while he is not 'intaking.' He came out with one of those sooo Israeli looks of exasperation. I explained I had noticed the family in front of me with their photos, and I had realized my photos were in my portfolio. He wanted to discuss whether I needed them. "Maybe," he said, "they are applying for something different from you. Did Rosie say that you would need the photos?" I answered that she did not mention the photos but I wanted to have them in case they were needed. His look of exasperation deepened to a level only possible for a sabra, as he retrieved the portfolio and I took my photos.

As it turns out, I was not asked for photos, so I was feeling kind of foolish when I went back into the hall. I was all prepared to apologize to the officer for putting him to the bother of allowing me to retrieve the photos - apparently unnecessarily, but a new officer came from room three. I had started to speak, thinking it was the other fellow, then had to say, "oh, you are a different guy." He responded, "the other one is the nice one; did you have something to say?" I just muttered that I was going to tell him he had been right about something. Officer number two said, "Of course he was right. He is always right."

I just got off the phone with the consulate. They called to ask why I did not give them my photos, and to tell me that now I must send them the photos so they can process my application. They convey all this with a tone that matches the "look," to which I am becoming very accustomed.

So I can see how it is going to be, if I do not develop a more Israeli attitude: I will be right about something, but after getting a couple of those sooo Israeli looks of exasperation, I will back down and not argue my point. Then it will turn out I should have argued, because now I have to do more work and experience additional delay, and be asked why I did not do things correctly in the first place.

My visit to the Israeli Consulate

I just returned this afternoon from a day in Miami, where I picked up my JAFI approval and delivered it to the Consulate along with my passport. They say I should receive the visa within a few days.

In retrospect it was probably not the best idea to wear a fully loaded 22 pocket Scottevest travel vest to the consulate. The officer asked me to empty my pockets but the one little tray he put out was rapidly overflowing. He asked if I had anything that could be used as a weapon and I said that sometimes I had a nail file but I could not immediately find it, so I said I must not have it with me. Later, when he said I could retrieve the items from the first tray, I noticed the nail file, and pointed it out to him. By this point I don't think he cared; he was busy with an item in tray number three. He asked, "What are these?" as he held up a container of brushpicks. I told him they were for the teeth, but he looked like he just couldn't grasp why such a thing would exist.

Then came the purse. You may wonder why I would be carrying a purse when I already had 22 pockets full of necessities. Indeed I usually do not carry a purse, however, the purse was not to hold purse-type items, but rather my Acer netbook (a miniture laptop perfect for travel). The consulate officer asked me to turn it on and open a document on the hard drive. I said I didn't think I had any documents on the hard drive because I keep my documents on my Mac. So he asked why I would bring this computer instead of my Mac. I explained that the Mac does not fit in a purse and the Acer is for travel internet use. He got the same look as when he learned about the purpose of brushpicks.

Then the officer wanted me to turn off my phone and ipod. When leaving home my nano had a dead battery so I grabbed my i-touch. I usually do not take it because it behaves as if it has a mind of its own; it doesn't like to stay properly shut off, so it turns itself back on. It did this a couple times at the consulate and as I was apologizing about the trouble getting it to stay off, the consulate officer looked away as the screen again lit up, and said to me, "it is off now - it is okay."

All in all, the most offensive item I had turned out to be a calculator. I had not even realized I had one. It is built into a multi-pocket leather portfolio I had brought along that was holding every document I had previously provided for my Aliyah application - just in case. He had to lock the portfolio into a secure room while I was on the premises, all because of the built-in calculator. I guess I should try to cut the leather and remove the calculator so I can use the portfolio without worry that it will cause a stir. I will do that right after I give the i-touch away to my daughter, and go out and purchase an emory board, with which to replace my nail file.

09 June, 2009


Oh Wow! Rosie (shaliach) called today to say my Aliyah has been approved. I am sooo thrilled, and grateful to HaShem!
I am scheduled to meet with Rosie on Monday at 11:00 in Miami. If I understand correctly, she will be giving me the papers to take to the Miami office of the Israeli Consulate where I can apply for my Aliyah visa. Hopefully the visa process will go quickly. Will write more when I get my breath back.