Thursday, December 25, 2014

Giving Thanks

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t get homesick too often. That being said, I was a little nervous about how I’d feel about missing out on Thanksgiving with my family.

My Thanksgiving was far from traditional (think peanut noodles and hummus), but it was a great evening. We did a potluck dinner at one of the ITF apartments in PTK, where everyone brought a dish to feed approximately 20 people. Before coming to Israel, I had been a pescatarian for 7 years, and I decided to begin eating meat and poultry again because I didn’t want to miss out on any new delicacies while abroad (as you can tell food plays a large role in my life).  This would have been the first Thanksgiving where I’d be able to indulge in Turkey, but PLOT TWIST we ended up having a strictly dairy/parve meal because some of the Fellows keep Kosher. This made for a very carb heavy yet delicious meal.

In true Thanksgiving fashion, I thought I’d share just a few of the many things I am thankful for in particular this year.

I’m thankful for Facetime

How else would I be able to spend the holiday with a few of my favorites that are 7,000+ miles away?

I’m thankful for my Petah Tikva family

These crazy kids filled any sort of void I could’ve had from spending the holiday without my family.

I’m thankful for my Israeli school family

My co-fellow, my students, and my incredible host teacher Rosi have helped make my experience in Israel exponentially greater than I could ever imagine.

Speaking of my school family, lots of fun things have been happening with teaching. For starters, my co-fellow Josh and I created our first bulletin board, which we hope to use to bring awareness of American culture to our students. Our November board was adorned with Thanksgiving décor – think hand turkeys, cornucopias, and statements of what my co-fellow and I are thankful for. 

Additionally, our 4th grade students finally got to debut their “Sam and Ann” performance. I wish I had permission to share pictures or videos of the students because they were amazingly precious and did an INCREDIBLE job! I could not stop gleaming throughout their entire performance and in that moment I realized I am 100% going to be a stage mom when I grow up.

Props for the skit - I spent way too much time on these bad boys
In Rosi news, the woman’s still a mensch (I’ve been told I should stop using “saint” because it’s not a very Jewish concept. Whatever).  I spent 3 out of 5 days of the week at Rosi’s house. Is there such thing as feeling too at home? Probably. But she doesn’t seem to mind. My first day at Rosi’s house is actually kind of a funny story. To preface the story, I am having things sent to Rosi’s address while I live here because I don’t really have access to my apartment’s mailbox.

SO, I got a call from the Israeli postal service saying that they had a package from my mother that they wanted to deliver to me. They asked me to wait at home (read: Rosi’s home) from 12-3 PM so I could be there to receive the package. That’s kind of a wide range of time so I was a little annoyed that I’d have to sit and wait, but worse things could happen. The real kicker, though, was the man on the telephone’s parting words. “You will have to pay 505 shekels for tax in cash or credit card. Thanks.”

505 SHEKELS?! I still don’t have a firm grasp of the dollar to shekel exchange rate (in my defense it fluctuates) but I knew it was a ridiculous amount. At the current exchange rate, it comes out to a little over $126 dollars. I could not fathom how a package that contained about $30 dollars worth of product could be so heavily taxed, so I decided to call my mom to discuss how silly that was.

Probably what I looked like when I found out I needed to pay 505 NIS
Long story short- I discovered that my mom declared that the contents of the package were worth a bit more than they actually were because she was concerned that otherwise they would not take special care of the package and make sure that it arrived to Petah Tikva. Safe to say we have since learned our lesson for the next package. The deliverer ended up coming a little past 2 PM, but it was torrentially downpouring outside so Rosi told me to wait for her to return from a meeting so she could give me a ride home. I ended up staying at her house till 10 PM that night, only leaving after having dinner and watching TV with her family. Rosi even suggested I just sleep over since she lives so close to school, but I had to decline considering I didn’t have a change of clothing or any of my work materials. 

Friday after work, Josh and I made our way over to Rosi’s house for lunch. Rosi, her husband, and her youngest son Eyal sat with Josh and me and enjoyed probably the spiciest shakshuka all of us have ever devoured. Over lunch, Rosi invited Josh and I back to her house for Shabbat breakfast the next day and we of course had to oblige.  Volunteering 101: A humble stipend means you never turn down free food. So on Saturday, for the third time in 5 days, I returned to Rosi’s house to enjoy a quintessential Israeli Shabbat brunch, filled with challah and jachnun. Then I was in a bit of a food coma so I took a nap on her sofa. Typing this out is making realize that I probably am getting a bitttttt too comfortable. As the kids say, “Sorry I’m not sorry.” 

Because when you find a Pharaoh hat, it'd be a sin to not try it on

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