Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Home Coming

The quiet before the storm. A month and a day of travels, and three years and three days after having left Israel for our NYC adventure, we arrive back home tomorrow.
When we left for NYC Nomi asked me why are we going. I explained that the relocation will create opportunities of learning and growth for all of us. In time we will no doubt come to evaluate and take stock as individuals and as a family as to what this experience has given us. Right now I know I feel changed and lucky to have had the challenge and grown thanks to the many new experiences we had.
We knew before we set out that part of the appeal of this experience is how temporary everything is. Three years of living for today, living for next week, knowing that every decision has a "sell by" date. We constantly felt that we don't see / do now, we won't have another chance to. That thought energized us and the need to leave the city motivated us.

A brief summary of our US explorations: We went on 28 overnight trips over the past 36 months. Shortest trip was one night in Philadelphia, longest trip was to the West Coast. furthest we drove by car - Savannah Georgia, most favorite National Park - Shenandoah. Most exciting discovery Hot Springs West Virginia, most days gone with no showers - 3. Hottest night - Lake Mead, 33 degrees at 2am. Funnest museum - The Exploratorium in San Francisco. Best Swimming Pool - Cookie & Jerry in LA.
We can't begin to count the number of people we met. Each of us separately, and together as a family. People who helped us through our time in NYC, who supported and became our network. Some of whom have become as close as family others have left their mark on us in other ways.
We reconnected, deepened and strengthened our relationships with family in a way we had never expected possible, this was the cherry on top of the experience. The bonus we had not anticipated.

We are on our way home, we are nervousited about the move. Many hurdles to cross; re-creating our home, new schools, finding jobs, re-engaging with old friends, staying in touch with our US friends, the culture shock, getting used to caring about the news and what is going on around us, looking out onto a  different horizon and more. There are also so many things we are looking forward to: re-creating our home and the familiarity of it all, new schools, finding jobs that are meaningful, re-engaging with old friends, hosting our US friends here, caring about the news and what is going on around us, looking out onto a different horizon, great food and close family!

See you all very soon,

The Cummings family wrapping up our NYC adventure.

(View of the Watchman at Zion National Park)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Our Shavuot vacation

Nearly two years into our American adventure. I think we are now as settled as we will ever be here. For those of you in the loop, you know that till now things have felt up in the air, and in this coming September we will start feeling the need to think about our return to Israel, so for now we are taking advantage of being relaxed and enjoying summer.
Here is a summary of our Shavuot vacation.
We had a great time!


Life's funny twists and turns:part 2 by Nomi

On extremely short notice, we took off to Toronto.(see life's twists and turns part 1 )
After a 1 hour flight, we arrived in Toronto. Then we waited..... For 2 hours!
Then, we boarded a flight for ........... not 7,not 8,not 9, but 10(!!!!!!!!) hour flight to Israel .Due to the length of the flight, everyone got board pretty quickly (that's just a lie om). Actually I now remember we each had a little screen and we watch a bunch of movies. I watched a little Downton abbey with mommy and I also watched free birds. apparently the seats were really comfy.....
being here is really confusing because we are happy being here,but we are not, and home is where the heart is, but where is home?

Landing in Israel felt really weird because I thought that the next time we saw Israel would be when we came back to live here, but this was so unexpected and I didn't have time to process it in my mind.  Everything feels exactly the same like everything around us hasn't changed, but we have. A few new things that have happened..........

  • I went to the shop twice on my own
  • We went to the beach in February
  • I am going to miss nearly two weeks of school
  • I ate a hard boiled egg
  • I learned what a palyndrome is
  • And I am finally writing a post for this blog, as I have meant to do for a long time...
  • And finally I have not worn my red Shevet Tapuach hat for the first time since getting it on Machane Choref in Dec. 13.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Home Is Where The Heart Is?

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west" wrote Yehuda Halevi in the 12th century. I however am neither here nor there, and would love someone to help me find where my heart is...

This weird situation of being dislocated has thrown us all into a little bit of a spin. In a family this manifests itself in higher sensitivities, lower sense of tolerance mix that up with lack of structure to the day (trying to squeeze in an email or two where possible, kids catching up on some class work) the sense of confusion is great, not helped by lack of clarity as to our return date.

We are home. This is where we belong. We all know that, even Poppy who has now spent more of her lifetime in the US than anywhere else. This is where we are coming back to, where we will have Friday nights with Granny Nola, Grampsy Maxi and the Gilats, and yet for now, it just isn't.
This past week has highlighted for all of us how much we have worked at, and succeeded in, building a life for ourselves in NYC, in creating a home.

According to the dictionary the definition of home is one's place of residence, the social unit formed by a family living together, a familiar or usual setting; congenial environment; the focus of one's domestic attention, home is where the heart is, a place of origin, one's own country. These definitions as far as we are concerned refer both to NY and to Israel for now, and hence the confusion.

In a funny kind of way we have been exiled from our home to our home. We are "forced" to be here not from choice, and we resent that. While we love being here, for now we belong to a different home and we hope to return there soon, and in time, and when planned we will also return here.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Life's Funny Twists & Turns

Catamount Trail Map
As in Ski so in life... knowing how to carve out turns, jump at just the right moment, and occasionally choosing free style or proper form are key. You might think that this is all because of Sochi. But no. It is because this past weekend we were supposed to be skiing in Copake New York. Our lovely friendship with our neighbors would have taken another step as we would join them for Presidents day long weekend in the house they rented in upstate NY. Kids had new snow boots, Nomi had her free snow pass (they give them to 4th & 5th graders...), and I had a book! Then came the call.
Instead of freestyle skiing down the green trail, life took a twist and we found ourselves full speed down the black trail.

Thanks to the Jewish Agency mishandling our US visas, we booked tickets, packed bags and were on flights Israel bound all within less than 24 hours.

Here are some views from the trail -
Flight NYC-Toronto

On the flight Poppy kept asking me every time a flight attendant walked past- "is this the driver of the plane?", as we were walking off the airplane we saw the pilot, so I said - "here is the driver" and he invited us into the cockpit, and Poppy & Tomer to sit in the pilot seat.

The ceiling in Toronto airport was particularly pretty.

The kids are keen to write about our experiences since we arrived. I give them one more day in ski school, if they aren't independent by tomorrow, I swoop in and publish for them :-)
At least on this slope I can be a skilled skier, more than I could say had I ended up on the slopes of Catamount.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Summer is here, and we go exploring

After braving through the cold winter spring is here, and with it an invitation to go exploring. So when the oppurtunity presented itself, with a moments notice we were off. This time to Pennsylvania.
My desperate need for some outdoors, fresh air, and someting completely different landed us in the Dutch Amish Country.

In researching places to stay I was very excited to find a bunch of listings that said they were B & B on Amish farms, but had no websites. Suddenly not seeing any pictures of where we were going to stay, the positioning of the bed in the room, the view from the window, and the table we will sit at while eating breakfast seemed very appealing. If an adventure - all the way. We ended up staying in Jonathan & Lydia's house in a tiny village called Gap. Jonathan & Lydia belong to the New Order Amish, which means they are slightly less strict, but they looked Amish enough for us.
So Erev Shavuot was celebrated on a dairy farm, and eating ice cream in an extremely bizarre, unbelievably American buffet restaurant. I found the recommendation on a blog of a guy who dedicates his time to reviewing all you can eat buffets around the country. I have to share the introduction to his blog -

There is an art to eating at an all you can eat restaurant. There are Do's and Don'ts that you need to know to get the most out of this dining experience. The rules will be presented as we go along ...

It's definitely one of those experiences one has to have while here. The kids absolutely loved it. To be fair the food was good and fresh, and the display of dessert meant the kids rushed through dinner, to get to the end.

The next morning we walked through Intercourse, Bird-in-Hand and Paradise. Walking through these villages it felt like someone might feel walking through "Mea Shearim". Strange-looking people who just go about their daily business in such a different way to ourselves. They dress differently, they have a different language, and here they also ride around in horse and carriage as if it was the most natural thing ever. We decided we need some explanations about the Amish. Wikipedia could only take us so far. 
The designated area for the horses behind the bank
"push bikes", bikes with no pedals

We resorted to doing the the tourist thing and went on a buggy ride, through Amish farm lands, hearing explanations about their lives, and habits. The kids couldn't get over the fact that the guy who took us around had 26 grandchildren. We continued to have a terrific lunch in Lancaster at the Lancaster Dispensing Company.

Kids sitting on the buggy
We took the scenic route back to the farm and visited a few of the 29 covered bridges of Lancaster County.
So glad to be running around in the fields
At the end of the day we returned to the farm we were staying on, and went on a lovely walk through some fields all the way to a little creek. Everyone was very excited when we spotted water.

Pay close attention to who is wearing what on the way to the creek, and on the way back. Despite the water being very cold, and Poppy tumbling in, a great time was had by all.
The sunset. You don't get that view in NYC

On Thursday we went to Philadelphia. Not really knowing what to expect, but with anticipation of plenty to do.

We started off at the National Constitution Center, which talks all about "We the People" and was actually a really good introduction to America, how it came to be, and why they think they are the Greatest Nation in the World.

Poppy being sworn into office

We met some really important people there

Nomi having a moment with Benjamin Franklin
Can't remember who's lap Tomer decided to sit on,
or shake hand with...

From there on to hamburgers in Franklin Square and on to the Liberty bell, which is treated as an icon and a national treasure. After seeing it, reading about, and hearing what it meant to people - I still don't get it. This is definitely not the first time, and I am sure not the last when facing an American national monument and not quite understanding the fuss. I recall visiting the sight of the Boston Massacre along the Freedom trail in Boston. 5 people were killed in the massacre.  Sorry, but where I come from, you really need to try harder to impress me.
From there we walked on through the lovely streets of Old City of Philadelphia, beautiful homes and gardens, quick visit into the Quaker meeting house, and then Betsy Ross's house, ending up walking along Elfreth's Alley, aka "our nation's oldest residential street".

Much to the children's disappointment we didn't get to the Please Touch Museum. We promise to be back.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


I met some people last week, and they were talking about how people hibernate in NYC during the winter. I wasn't quite sure what they were taking about. Who hibernates? Who can even dream of hibernating with three kids, work, and the longest school bus strike since 1979.
When I gave the whole hibernation issue a second thought I realised that a combination of being bogged down by the need to set up life here, and the coooold winter maybe has meant the last 4-5 months were spent trying to keep the balls in the air, our ship afloat, my head above water. So not quite the warm relaxing image of hibernation I had in my head, but definitely something I feel we are emerging from.

So here are some highlights from the past few months. Promise to try and keep y'all updated more often.

Lots of love, and belated Chag Sameach

From New York

Exodus from Egypt