Thursday, October 23, 2008

Making Aliyah with the Rosners II

You might recall that about two months ago I went on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight on which R. Shalom and Dr. Tamar Rosner (and family) immigrated to Israel (link). I got in touch with them to see how they've been doing since arriving, particularly on the holidays. The short answer: Great. It seems the holidays have been a really inspiring experience that will hopefully last for a long time.

R. Rosner sent out two updates to his former congregants which, with his permission, I am posting below (with the names of some former congregants omitted to protect their privacy).

Rosh Hashanah update:
Click here to read more

Baruch Hashem, we are settling in here in Nofei Hashemesh, Israel. Our house has come together (a.c., appliances, emptying of some of the boxes), and we have been home for the last couple of shabasim. On our block, there are five families that have moved in, with hopefully a few more on the way in the coming weeks. It's very exciting to be involved in our new community, though there is construction going on around us (as there is in all of Israel). We are next door -- a 5 minute walk from the 2 other large anglo communities here in Beit Shemesh -- Nofei Aviv and Scheineld. They have been very welcoming to all of us -- many baalei chesed and machnisei orchim.

The kids are getting acclimated in their respective schools. The language is obviously the biggest challenge, but they are being good sports, bli ein hara, and little by little, it will get easier. The school has special services for new olim, including hours of ulpan 4 days a week, along with trying to have a buddy for each new oleh, helping them with the language and other work issues. Nothing unexpected, it'll just take time.

Our shul started parshas ki tetzei. We are now housed in a school at the top of our block. B"H, we have had a crowd each of the past few weeks, about 60-70 people in the mornings, as well as a nice showing at the shiurim (30 or so). We even have a few steady Israelis, who I'm sure wince, as they hear me give my derashos (or rather, derashot) in Hebrew, though all the shiurim are in English. I also already feel like I never left the US, in that B"H, we are crowded into our room in the school, and whenever someone walks in, we try to figure out where we can stuff another seat. In any case, it's very exciting to be here, and we feel that it a tremendous zechus to be able to build something here in Artzeinu Hakedosha.

Tamar has not started working yet, as she is still full time with the house and getting the kids settled. I am out early, once again, B"H, giving the daf, with a volunteer uploading after each shiur onto I am also in Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim for morning and afternoon seder, teaching both some of the shana alef and all of the shana bet. Thank God, it's going well.

Though it's been very hectic, we have tried not to lose the focus of where we are and why we came. Our house looks out onto the beautiful mountains of Shevet Dan. Last week, we made it to a bar mitzva at the Kotel. Last Friday, we had the zechus of driving our family to Kever Rachel for mincha. The government opened it up to cars this month, to see how it goes. It was very special and inspiring. We still find it hard to believe that we live about a half hour from Kever Rachel, and 40 minutes from the Kotel. Speaking of the Kotel, last week Avigayil (5th grade) had a tiyul to Yerushalayim, which included walking on the walls of the Old City, and late night selichos at the Kotel. Yehoshua (7th grade) has it next week, with a scheduled stop in Shaarei Chesed, to see Rav Shlomo Zalman's house. It's a real privilege to have such mekomos hakedoshim as destinations of the kids trips. We are looking forward to our first chag in Eretz Yisrael. and yes we are still holding two days Rosh Hashana, though Succos is a different story.

Succos Update:
Succos was great. One really feels that the entire country is involved in the chag. Before the chag, one could sense it in the air. Wherever you looked, people were buying sechach, daled minim, and getting ready for the yomtov.Yom tov itself was one spent with family and friends. We were in our shul for the first and last day (not days, but it wasn't so hard to switch that). The weather was mostly beautiful, a little hot some days. On Wednesday, we walked mamesh outside of our door, and hiked up the mountain (with Tamar's sister and family). it was great. Then off to Alon Shvut for a BBQ and then Modiin for a bat mitzvah BBQ. The kids had a great time. Thursday was a trip to Naot Kedumim, a national park, where they have a succa exhibit, bringing all the mishnayot succa to life -- higher than 20, shorter than 7, on a boat or a camel, in a haystack, and many others. It was fascinating. For Shabbat, we were in Chashmonaim with my family. On Sunday, we went to Pnei Kedem, in the Gush area, for their annual kite festival. Pnei Kedem is a yishuv of about 25 families, living in caravans for years already, and they run this festival, where literally hundreds of carloads of people come to participate. It was very memorable -- they are on top of a montain, so it's great wind for kites. On Hoshana Rabba night, I had the zechus of giving 2 shiurim in the Beit Shemesh area, and finally back home for Simchat Torah -- very leibedig, all of our families were very involved in hakafot. All in all, I hope that the chag remains a highlight for the kids throughout the year. People have said that the year revolves around the chagim, and we alreay feel that way. Now it's straight till Chanukah. The kids went back to school today, and as mentioned, each day hopefully is a little more Hebrew learned, and a little more class understood. Hope this gives you some update.

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