Yves Shefner in Israel at War 2006

Life in Haifa and north of Israel during the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Day 15 - Odd way to celebrate 10 years in Israel

Two days ago, July 25th, 2006, was exactly 10 years to the day I got off an ElAl plane at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv arriving with little Yarden in my arms and Sari. I was looking forward to a real adventure and a good place for Yarden to grow up. I go an adventure alright :-)

Today the radio is playing mainly quiet and sad songs in honor of the fallen soldiers and the mood is more somber than it was last week while Israeli jets and artillery were attacking from far away. People are realizing that this might be a harder war than we anticipated and we will likely lose many more men. It is an odd contrast to the 10th anniversary celebration I was planning - which included inviting a lot of friends to a garden barbecue and toasting the fact that I not only survived here but also thrived.

In the last 10 years:
  • I went to the "ulpan" (literllay studio) for learning Hebrew and sat there every day for 5 hours or so, for four months, in a class mainly filled with new Russian immigrants.
  • I made new, close, friends.
  • I did part-time marketing consulting work for Israel high-tech companies
  • I separated and divorced from Sari
  • I got a job as sales director for a internet security firm and began travelling all over South America and Europe for business and meeting all kinds of wonderfull people from all over the world.
  • Five years ago next month, I started AltimaOne, a high-tech distribution and R&D firm which has been growing and thank God, has been profitable for the last 4 years.
  • I won a court case to spend more time with Yarden which has had a great impact on him and our relationship and was one of the best things I ever did.
  • I learned to play guitar - again.
  • I survived a couple of minor surgeries which didn't feel so minor. I also survived a car crash and a couple of broken bones.
  • I took a course in Spanish.
  • I joined a competitive tennis league, for the first time in my life.
  • Other, more personal things that I'd rather not mention here :-)

When a Jew immigrates to Israel, it is called Aliyah, which literally means going up. Emmigration from Israel used to be called Yerida, or going down. Which shows the state of optimism of the early Zionist idealists. Today, it is not politically correct to use the word Yerida, but Israelis still hang on to the word Aliya. One old-timer who fought in Israel's war of independence, told me once that one day in Israel is worth a hundred years in the diaspora.

While I arrived with other motivations, I really have gotten so much out of my experience here, though not what I expected. The T-shirt is right, life is what happens to you while you are making other plans.

A lot of people ask me if I ever plan to move back to Canada. Frankly, I can't see myself going back after living here. While there are a lot of wonderful advantages to living in Canada (peace, and relative prosperity for example), there are ones here - some of them less tangible.

The weather and the view is better from Haifa than it is from Mount-Royal, I'm 10 minutes from a dip in the Med and 5 minutes away from a hike in the beautiful Carmel mountains. There is way more to see and do in this country than I remember in Canada and I am two hours away from Skiing in the Golan Heights (when there's snow).

I also like the warmth and directness of Israelis - even though it often seems rude.. I like that here, political correctness is still a guideline and not grounds for shunning. I like the feeling of everyone pulling together in hard times and that they enjoy the same fate together.

I also find it hard to imagine myself starting over in Canada when I have so much here. But then again, who knows... It's nice to know Canada is still there. It actually gives me strength to continue here in these hard times :-)


Shalom,

Yves

PS. Thanks to Metz for your insightful comments!

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