I love my babysitter! I adore her! I know why my daughter doesn’t cry anymore when I leave. I understand why she glows and bounces up and down and claps when the babysitter arrives. Mind you, we’ve been in Israel a week. We’ve had our babysitter three days, and if she leaves I’m going to cry right along with my daughter. Whew! So it worked out after all.
My babysitter is the roommate of a former colleague with whom I’d studied Yiddish in Vilna. She’s in Israel on a thesis fellowship, done with classes, and loves children. She’s drop-dead gorgeous, got a beautiful singing voice, speaks fluent Hebrew, English, Czech and probably several other languages, washes my dishes just because they’re there, and causes peals of laughter to ring out from the room in which the baby is playing.
But that’s not why I love her. I love her because today, after three days, she told me that she really believes my child is special. And I think she really meant it. Imagine.
I have to say that my daughter has taken to Israel immediately. Just Monday I was walking down the pedestrian green on the boulevard in which we live, and I suddenly noticed the traffic was weird. There were two cars following us. I felt my muscles tense. I’d been kidnapped in a taxi in Venezuela once (in the end I was unharmed, thank G-d). But when I looked again, I noticed the people in the cars were smiling and waving. I turned around to look at my daughter, who’d been riding on my back. She was blowing kisses and waving. Yes, she’s making the most of Israel’s love for children. Didn’t take her long to figure it out, either.
She's a lot smarter than I am. I've still not mastered such charm and gracefulness.
We spent the first week setting up house and repairing my cell phone because I had an evil battery charger that sucked the energy out instead of putting it in. Yes, it's a pain, but just imagine the vocabulary one acquires. How many languages can YOU say "I'm not crazy" in? Also, this gave us lots of outdoor time. The pregnant women and mothers of the new crop of babies that we see everywhere in the streets are very helpful in sharing where they get the best bargains in diapers and toys. I started teaching last week and will start Ulpan soon.
I am so excited about these six months, I don’t want to lose a minute. Tel Aviv may seem like an unlikely place to learn and grow Jewishly, but it's very promising. I didn’t have a strong background in Jewish studies or Hebrew growing up, and I want to learn enough for the two of us—since my daughter doesn’t have the example of an Abba’s daily davening. I’ll have to be it. Me and the communities we build. Well, she’s terrific at community. And we’re off to a good start.