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"How does it feel to be Israeli?"

So I’ve officially been an Israeli citizen for two days…and it’s surreal. Everywhere I go, people welcome me home: from the teller at the bank to the man who made me hummus. Seeing my picture turn into an Israeli ID card right before my eyes and hearing the official say, “Mazal Tov, you’re officially Israeli. Welcome home!” felt mildly overwhelming and completely wonderful. I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long and it’s finally here!!

As for my first two days: I’m mostly unpacked (although am in need of a trip to Ikea), I’ve opened a bank account (all thanks to my Israeli friend who stayed with me all day through the bureaucracy and smooth talked the bank to give me good deals and low fees), gotten an Israeli cell phone number (add me on WhatsApp since I can’t text anymore!), eaten amazingly good hummus (again, thanks to the same friend who is slowly showing me all of Israel’s best secrets), and started to explore Tel Aviv. Today, I took the morning to myself and just walked for almost two hours, I found the synagogue I want to go to tonight (and another one in case I want to try it out), I found my Ulpan, walked on the beach and on main streets and side streets from North Tel Aviv down to the south. It’s pretty remarkable to just look around and realize all of this is now my home.

It’s also extremely hot. Like 94 degrees, 70% humidity kind of hot. Walk outside and sweat immediately kind of hot. No wait, I take that back…not if youre Israeli. Unsurprisingly, after walking around in the direct and bright sunlight, I looked flushed to say the least. I looked around and saw that no one else appeared to be even remotely hot. Girls have waist length hair down, women wearing pants…even saw a pregnant woman who didnt have a drip of sweat on her…and then there’s me wearing a dress, hair has to be up, dying of sweat. I may be officially Israeli, but I certainly don’t look it yet. But as anyone who knows me knows, I would take this weather ANY day over the cold…so bring it on Israel! I’m ready to sweat until I can’t sweat anymore (because I’m pretty sure that’s what has happened to everyone here…they just ran out of sweat).

For the moment, I’m just taking it all in and enjoying each moment in this wonderful country (and napping quite a bit…thanks jetlag). My apartment and roommate are wonderful! I’m getting ready to go to my first Shabbat service in a few minutes and could not be more excited to have my first Shabbat as an Israeli.

More to come later.

Views from my walk today and my apartment! If you look closely, the apartment on the third floor with the Israeli flag is mine and Dani’s!

As promised: some useful Hebrew words for future visits:

חומוס (choo-mus) aka hummus. Sounds almost the same, but you need that CH sound in the front…good hummus is vital to survival in Israel.

תודה (toe-dah) means thank you. If I’ve learned anything these past two days, it’s that Israelis are extremely helpful and kind and you will find yourself saying this over and over again here.

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