Monday, January 25, 2010

First days In Israel: January 10 - 20

As soon we arrived in Israel, we went to look for our luggage – but one of them did not arrive. We were really too tired to make the claim, so we decided to go to the hotel we reserved from Chicago. The problem was that the reservation was cancelled because we arrived 3 days later than we had expected! Therefore, we needed to find out where we can stay --at least, until we could find our apartment. We called two friends, and they invited us to stay with them until we find something where to live.

The first day we arrived at the Moshav Tirat Yehuda (טִירַת יְהוּדָה‎) [which means “the Castle of Yehuda”, one of the sons of Jacob, from the bible.] Is located very close (5 minutes) from the airport. Since we just wanted to rest a little from our Odyssey, we took a taxi and went straight there.

A moshav is a group of workers who produce goods on their properties and use the profit to provide for themselves. ‎ And this this moshav is very particular, because, unlike others, it has two groups of people. One group is does agricultural work, and the other groups work outside of the moshav in different fields: doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, etc. A moshav is very different from a kibbutz, although both are cooperative agricultural communities. The kibbutz puts more emphasis on community labor, while the moshav focuses more on individual labor.

The second day we move to Elkana (אֶלְקָנָה‎)‎ a city in "Samarian hills", or as other call it the “West Bank”. Is a nice city founded in 1977, inhabited by around 1200 families. The town was named after the father of Samuel, who is believed to have lived in the area. All the people in this town are as religious as are those in moshav Tirat Yehuda.

The third day, we started to look for an apartment where we will live for the next 6 months. When we were in Chicago, we found an apartment in Jerusalem, in a very nice neighborhood, on King David Street. We found this apartment through one of the online links that the people use to post and find apartments. After we sent the money to reserve it, we found out that it was a scam. We thought that it was not for us – this experience taught us neither to be so “naive” nor to believe that everybody in this world is honest. The person who “rented” the apartment to us lives in London. However, he had said that he lived in Jerusalem for a few years, but left because he found a job in London. We believed him. So, as I was telling you, we went to Jerusalem to start looking for apartment. There followed were 5 hard days -- but finally we found a little apartment in Pisgat Zeev, (פסגת זאב‎‎), a neighborhood of Jerusalem, located in the north of the city and close to Mount Scopus, the site of the Hebrew University, and a region named after Zeev Jabotinsky, one of the early leaders of the Zionist movement.

From Chicago to Israel

Hi friends!

Maybe you will be very surprised that I did not write a few lines to you since starting my trip. I hope you are not disappointed with me -- after you will have read the following, you will understand the reasons.

Last January 6, 2010, after packing and giving up the apartment where I was living, my husband and I moved to Skokie for a week and then we took a British Airways flight to Ben Gurion Airport, in Israel, with a "little stop" in Heathrow Airport, London.

Because of a snow storm in London, our flight was delayed 3 hours, and then at 8:30 PM we started our journey. This delay meant that we would lose our connecting flight to Israel, but at least we would be half way there!!

The emotion was great; my heart was beating as fast as the airplane was flying. It was 9:30 AM, of the following day when we landed in Birmingham. Yes, Birmingham, and not Heathrow. The flight was diverted because of the snow storm in London, Heathrow was closed.

Here we started our adventures!!! After we landed, no one told us if our luggage went straight to Israel or we need to pick up them in Birmingham. Finally, like the rest of the passengers, we realized that we need to take our luggage and find out how to go to Heathrow, and to catch the following flight to Israel, which was scheduled for 10:30 PM.

Each one of the passengers took his or her luggages and left the airport to find a bus which would take us to Heathrow.

We could not complain, we had 2 hours tour in the British Midlands country side for FREE!!!! We saw a lot of snow all the way to Heathrow. It was really nice and relaxing after all.

We arrived at Heathrow and needed to find out which terminal we need to go in order to board the plane to Israel. While we were waiting for the call and checking in the luggages, we were served snacks: tuna, chicken or cheese sandwiches, salad, cookies, water, and coffee.

One hour before that we needed to check in the luggage, we were told that the flight to Israel was also cancelled. The first flight, at 8:30AM, the one that supposedly we missed because of the delay, was cancelled too.

The BA Company sent us to a very nice hotel, in the city, the Marriot Park Lane close to the Marbel Gate Arch. Around 10:00PM, we almost were leaving, when one of the personal from BA told all the passengers traveling to Israel that there was a flight at 8:30 AM to Israel, Friday, the next day, but this flight was cancelled also. However, there was another at 10:30 PM, also on Friday.

Yes, it was Friday night, and I do not fly on Fridays, because of Shabbat, so I asked for a second night in the hotel. However, they did not want to give us the second night because they did not care if we are religious: “It is not our problem,” the manager of customer services told me. So, I asked her to gave me her name and to write me a note that she will not give me a second night, so that I can report her.

After 20 minutes of "arguing", she acceded to give me the second night. By that time we were really exhausted and we just wanted to go to sleep at the hotel, where we arrived at 12:00 AM.

We stayed in the hotel from Thursday night until Saturday around 5 PM, when we left for Heathrow Airport.

The following concerns something great for us and I wanted to share it with you. [Please feel free to skip this paragraph, if you want.]

On Saturday morning we went to the synagogue, It was a magnificent building with a lot of stained glass windows. Each one has a motif from the bible. The rabbi was the chief Rabbi of the UK, Sir Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. It was a "Kiddush morning" for the new members, so we felt that, by accident and just for this morning, we were "new members".

At 6 PM, we left for Heathrow and found out that the flight to Israel, the night before, which means Friday night, was also cancelled!!

Finally, our flight to Israel left that night at 10:30, and we arrived at Ben Gurion airport at 5:30 AM.