Sunday, February 14, 2016

So happy to go, so sad I couldn't make it work.

I know, I know.  I'm a jerk for being such a critical person, and I feel terrible about it.  I've had a stressful few days, and the prospect of not being able to support my family (by even looking at a home that was way above our means) really hurt my feelings.  In hindsight, I didn't realize that "a girl can dream," and I was smashing her dream with the heel of my boot, and I should have just stayed quiet and not bust a gasket when I heard my wife speaking about wanting beautiful things.  I just take her so seriously, especially since I try to give her everything she wants, and I was feeling like a failure that I wasn't able to give her the dream home that she wanted.  I was also feeling very threatened, since we cannot stay here in Beitar (or anywhere in Israel, as the work hours are not long-term doable for me), and I was feeling that I couldn't afford Denver's more expensive homes either.  So I felt painted into a corner.

Anyway, I have been thinking long and hard, and I cannot have more good things to say about Israel, the land, the beauty, the holiness, and even how wonderful it is for our kids to have friends and for me to have a community in which I am thriving both as a person and as a Jew.  Beitar has been a wonderful solution for us, and I'm actually saddened that I'll be saying goodbye to some really good friends I've made over the past few months.

Now you may shoot back at me telling me to "make it work."  I've tried, really I have.  I've shifted my hours later so that I work from 7pm-7am (and then I go to minyan in the morning).  I've shifted my hours so that I work 3pm-3am, still no dice.  I've also tried 12pm-12am, but then I cannot do my work since my law firm operates in the late afternoons/evenings simply because of the nature of my clientele.  I've pumped myself full of coffee, I've taken naps during the day, but no matter how I cut it, I can't make the hours work for me.  Maybe someone with a better constitution would be able to handle this, but for me, it is too much to handle... especially considering that I cannot "relax" and defuzz in the mornings, and I cannot nap in the afternoons, and while I would never do so openly, I blame my wife for it not working out.  No way in hell have I been able to take a nap while she is stuck with the six screaming kids -- I felt like a loser and that I was slacking on my responsibility every time I tried to close my eyes to prepare for my evenings, while I would hear my wife get frustrated with the kids all hanging on her competing for her attention.  I felt terrible for her having to deal with everything, and on top of that, I was asleep during the mornings as well.  Aside for a few precious hours in the late morning / early afternoons, I really had no time to run any errands, or to do anything except to work.  Life was work and work was life -- there was really no room for anything else.

I tried to help with the dishes, with the laundry, with the chores, with watching the kids whenever I could in order to lessen the burden on my wife, but really, all it did was drain me and I was unable to work that evening.  I lost so many evenings that way rescheduling appointments with potential clients to the point that I lost many of them because I could not muster the energy, the discipline, or the organization to balance both an Israeli day, and then an American work day after that.  My work and the time zone shifting each day (and the lack of sleep or energy that went with it) was consuming my life.

With full respect and love to Israel, I am happy that I am leaving in a few months.  I feel as if I have been in a one-room prison all year without the ability to roam free or to move about freely, and it has been a miserable experience.  I hope my wife, my kids, my friends, and Hashem forgive me and don't judge me because I couldn't make it work.  G-d knows I tried to make it work.  I still can't shake the feeling in the back of my stomach that I am a failure for making this work, and "if only I did X," or "if only I tried harder, or did XYZ differently," we could have made it work.  Really, it was not working, but I don't understand why I have to convince myself of this fact.  I'm so happy to go home, but so sad I couldn't make it work!

 NOTE: Image taken from Pixbay, CC0 Public Domain, Free for commercial use, No attribution required.  Link.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

We decide to move back to the U.S., and old money problems resurface.

My wife and I just had a conversation this morning about the stresses of having upside-down work hours here in Israel, and after last night's fiasco (dealing with Israeli taxes with accountants -- supposedly good ones -- who didn't know what they were talking about), I woke up this morning in a panic that we cannot stay here.
This does not have to do with anything negative about Israel -- NO, it has to do with the DIFFICULTIES of living a double life, with half of my life complying with burdensome US tax and banking rules, getting around geographical restrictions, because for some reason, being an "expat" US Citizen living abroad makes them think that you are a criminal!  I simply don't understand why I need to hide from my bank the fact that I am outside of the US?  I don't understand why being a successful attorney who moved his family out of the US to give his kids a good Israel experience in the midst of threatened economic and social collapse -- why is this criminal behavior?

Anyway, there is more to that story, and it appears that before I left, I upset the wrong person because as soon as I arrived to Israel last year, all of my funds in one of my US bank accounts (where we held most of our money) was frozen because they suspected "terrorist" activities.  Really?  From a frum Chabad Jewish lawyer with a beard, six kids and a kippah?  Anyway, the problem slowly got worse, and the so-called "flag" spread to my other accounts -- so much so that every time I call in to check a balance, or to pay bills or do banking transactions, I get forwarded to the "VIP" department, because I am a "special" customer (my wife has started joking that "VIP" really means "terrorist," and I'm really starting to wonder.)  Anyway, now I need to do a wire transfer to some Israeli Manpower Organization in order to comply with taxes here in Israel, and I'm concerned that this was the same kind of wire transfer that got my main account shut down when we first moved here.  But worse, if it happened, it would be to my law firm's bank account, which is the source of all of our funding, our food, our rent, everything.  This is the holy grail of bank accounts, and the Israeli accountants need for me to do a wire transfer FROM THERE to their organization to create a paper trail, or whatever their reason.  I'm nervous as hell that this will freeze this account too, and I'm not comfortable doing it, but I will in order to comply.

Then there is the prospect of severe increased costs when I return to the US.  There, I made a lot of money.  Here, I am not making a lot of money (likely because of my severely diminished number of work hours).  I calculated with my wife that if we moved back, I would need to make at least another $50,000 just to keep the same level of expenses that we have now because of yeshiva tuition, a mortgage, healthcare, etc.  I was willing to do this, even though it would mean that I would have to work harder just to make ends meet.

But then, as soon as we decided to move back... my wife got the "money bug" back.  We sold our Denver home for roughly $250K (at a net loss), which was good for us because we purchased it for $185K and put roughly $75K into it [these were improvements that we did for OURSELVES to live in this home forever, such as knocking down walls, gutting and redoing the entire kitchen, getting the best kind of granite countertops (well, the kind that my wife liked), purchasing an expensive refrigerator, the best rated appliances, etc., but it all seemed to feel like "fate" when we were presented with buyers who wanted to purchase the home from us just as we were speaking to real estate brokers to rent out the home once we made Aliyah.] 

In hindsight, because we were moving to Israel and we were committed to not leaving anything behind, it was nice to sell the home and not to need to worry about dealing with two homes -- one in the US, and the one we would be renting in Israel.  But then, we had to sell (really, give away) all of our possessions so that our basic necessities would fit in a "crate" to ship across the sea.  We had to sell our new car at an offensive low price, I had to sell my car for a measly $300 just to get rid of it, and when we came to Israel, we had to buy a car for 75,000 NIS because that was the cheapest car we could fit that came close to holding our six kids.  Then my wife crashed the car and wrecked the front of it which cost us another 10,000 NIS to repair, and then another few hundred dollars each month in insurance costs (oh well), then I lost about eight month's of salary to a home theft (yes, that happened), but that was part of what it cost to move to and dwell in the State of Israel.

Now when we move, we will again need to give away a few thousand dollars worth of items we purchased here so that everything will fit back in the "crate."  We will need to practically give away our new 70,000 NIS car (which will be worth almost nothing because my wife wrecked its value by being in an accident), we will pay another $15K just to move our belongings and fly ourselves back, and only then I will need to work extra hard to be able to pay for the increased expenses of healthcare, yeshiva tuition, etc.

On top of that, I was sharing with my wife just yesterday that the larger homes have electricity bills of $600 per month for many months out of the year, while the smaller homes (still large by anyone's measure, but "small" for what we were used to in Denver) have lower electricity costs of sometimes $200-$300 per month.  This pocket of change makes a big difference because with the larger homes, we are either heating or cooling the entire house because the indoor space is that much larger to temperature regulate.

This morning when I told her that I wanted to move back, and we spoke at length and decided to move back in June when the kids are done with their school year, (not January as we were considering beforehand so that we can give Beitar (Israel) a chance,) she got the "money bug" back that she had when we lived in the US.  "I want a big, giant dream house... with a Jaccuzzi and a pool... and a big magnificent kitchen with high ceilings, real wooden floors -- not the "fake" wooden floors we installed in our old home (I spent over $5,000 to install those wooden floors [which was a splurge], and yes, I think they were laminates or something but we researched the quality and decided that those were the best quality for the money we were paying)... Immediately, I almost had a heart attack because I remembered in the US our old fight that she did not respect how hard it was for me to work to make the money I made, and now she is already spending money in her head that we don't have.

I don't get this.  What is going on?!?  How the hell can she switch back to the "I want a big giant house with riches and diamond and beauty and, and, and, and..." when we just spent a year in Israel [I thought] teaching the value of austerity.  We lived a six-figure lifestyle here which was a meager lifestyle here, but it was certainly luxurious compared to the meager $35,000 salary most people in Israel live on.  Hell, some of my friends here can't even afford the weekly bus pass to pay for transportation to work (let alone good food on their table, clothes to wear, or any sort of comfort), and here she is suddenly going back to dreamy "I want everything" mentality that threw us into marriage counseling the first time we were in Denver.

I have nothing wrong with buying a more expensive house than we had the last time we were in Denver.  After seeing the millions of shekels a small measly home goes for here in Israel, even the most expensive home in Denver is cheap, comparatively.  But there is a difference between looking for an above-average lifestyle and going for a lifestyle that would only draw the attention and envy of the community.  Why can't we be like everyone else, and live a regular lifestyle within our means life everyone else?  Why this sudden desire to get the biggest and the best?  Did she not learn anything during our time here in Israel?!?

NOTE: Image taken from Pixbay, CC0 Public Domain, Free for commercial use, No attribution required.  Link.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Balancing Israel versus the USA as far as deciding whether to move back.

This isn't going to be much of a coherent post because it is 1:30am Israel time, and this is the second day in a row that I am unable to work.  I am so deeply distraught about whether to stay in Israel or to throw everything back on a crate and ship it back to the US.  I cannot think straight, I cannot function, I cannot focus.  I think I'm also hitting a bit of a depression as well.

The issues to balance have been hashed out.  We are balancing my own health and mental sanity of being isolated from my family and from society because of my work hours with the benefits being here I provide for my family as far as providing them a good community, friends, good school, and a great and meaningful life experience.  But what kind of experience can a childhood be when the tatty is always somewhere else, whether that be emotionally exhausted, physically stressed, or mentally checked out?

Then I think of the physical security of the family which would be put at risk if we returned, based on the news I am hearing from the various sources I read.  Corruption is rampant, the economy is about to collapse, taxes and healthcare costs are going up, social stability is fragile at best, and people are being lied to by those in power elected to protect them.  And, the candidates either want to morph the United States into socialism (Sanders), provide more of the same (Hillary), or create a post-constitutional police state (Trump).  Then there is the Black Lives Matter crowd (fraud), ISIS (murderers), the Muslim refugees (fakers), N. Korea testing nuclear missiles and launching potentially dangerous satellites (imperialists), and a banking system that is about to collapse (greed).  Why would I want to move back to a place like this unless I am ignorantly ignoring the issues hoping naively that they will not cause my family any issues?

For days, the decision to go back seemed like the good answer.  End of June, we're leaving.  But then, something changed within us, and so we said, "January, maybe never [if we can figure out how to live here happily]."  But without a driver's license, what was an isolating situation has redoubled itself as a very isolating situation, especially since I won't risk renting office space only to get arrested on the drive over to or from work each day.  And it needs not be said, but the bureaucracy to do anything is like ten steps to do whatever you want to do, and it involves going here to this office, getting a stamp at that office, sitting down with this person who shows up to work only on every second Tuesday after a full moon between 9:00am and 9:07am.  Then when you get there, he was out sick that day and you just blew five hours of your life running around for nothing, only to do it all over again.

So in sum, good community, good group of people here, good for kids, good for friends.  Bad for me, bad for my connection with my family, bad for my health, and I just don't know whether I want the easy American life back, or the difficult life here.  I am losing focus of what is important, and I do not know how to weigh my options.  And I can't snap out of if and get back to working my butt off as I have been doing for over a year now being awake EVERY OVERNIGHT here.

Monday, February 08, 2016


So... I asked Hashem for some guidance in deciding whether we should leave Israel back to the U.S. or whether we should stay in Israel, and now this happened.  I can't believe I was almost arrested from just having a bad day?!?  I was pulled over because I was talking on the cell phone (illegal) with no headlights on (illegal) and no seat belt on (illegal), with no Teudat Zehut (Israel National ID) (illegal?), and no car registration paperwork (illegal).  Plus, I accidentally lied to the cop saying that I had been in Israel for a few months (this was an accident, I only meant I had been here in Beitar for a few months), only for him to find out that I've been here more than a year and that I don't have an Israeli Driver's License.  This was after the bank stole a whole wad of cash which was the reason I was on the cell phone really upset in the first place.  After all this, the officer called two other cops over the radio which came via motorcycle, and surrounded my car from both sides.  Then all of a sudden, something changed, everyone backed off, and he gave me a small ticket with a warning.

My wife (a Hebrew speaker) afterwards in shock said, "I don't know what changed, but I heard him talking, and he said he was going to arrest you.  You were going to be arrested."

Here is a letter to the Rebbe that I wrote on the topic (now writing him two days in a row):

23 Shvat, 5776 
Ana L'orer Rachamim Rabim ba'avor ... 
Dear Rebbe, 
I do not understand how to interpret the events of today.  This morning, I woke up, and because my wife was feeling ill, I went downstairs, cleaned up the living room and the kitchen, and then when it came time to pick up our youngest daughter from gan, I decided to drive into town to withdraw some funds from our U.S. bank in Shekels, and deposit them into our Israeli bank account. 
When I was on line at the bank to use the ATM, there was a poor person going to people at the bank ATM as they were taking out money.  I find this highly inappropriate as there are shuls and tzedakka institutions set up to give money to people like him (and we often donate to these organizations).   
When it came time to use the ATM, I refused to do so, and I told the man who was standing next to the poor person in Hebrew, "I am not taking out money from the ATM while he is standing there waiting to ask for money."  I guess I shamed him and I did not realize it, and I am sorry for that.  I have already encountered this guy many times and I thought he belonged in a home of some sort, not roaming the streets. 
Minutes later, when I walked to the next block to deposit the funds in our bank's ATM, the same poor person came over and asked people on line for cash.  I told him "slichah, lo," and he walked on.  Again, I was annoyed that he was asking people on line at the bank. 
When it came time to deposit the cash into the bank account, I had an intuition to deposit my stack of 50 NIS bills from my wallet rather than the 200 NIS bills that I just withdrew from the bank.  The ATM machine failed, it took [stole] my money, and I was really upset, especially because I do not speak the Hebrew to fight with the bank tellers (plus the bank was closed even though it was in the middle of the day), and I certainly do not have the time to stand on line only for them to tell me, "sorry, you lost your money," and if I did, who would I call to fight it?!?  I don't even know how much money I put into the ATM -- it was a stack of 50 NIS bills! 
Driving back home, I called my wife to tell her what happened.  In haste, I forgot to put my seat belt on (and, I did not have my lights on, something I realized later on which is now illegal here).  An Israeli police officer standing in the middle of the road flagged me down, pulled over my car, and started asking me questions. 
It has been literally A YEAR AND ONE DAY, and we did not have an Israeli license as was required by law.  My wife was on speaker phone, and she heard that he was going to arrest me for driving without a licence, for talking on the cell phone, AND for not having seat belts on. 
I started saying tehillim, and when saying tehillim, I remembered the poor person I probably embarrassed earlier that hour (right before the bad things started to happen).  I felt bad about it because he was not poor because he was lazy, but because he had mental issues.  I've also seen him before and have reacted the same way when this guy would walk into a restaurant to ask people for tzedakka.  I repented (in whatever small way I could), and my wife told me that immediately after the police officer was about to arrest me, he had a change of heart and decided to give me a ticket.  He didn't give me a ticket for driving without a license.  He didn't give me a ticket for talking on the cell phone while driving (a 1000 NIS fine in Israel).  He gave me a ticket for not having seat belts on, a 100 NIS fine. 
I am very shaken up by this event because I don't even know where or how to obtain a drivers license here in Israel.  My wife and I tried before, but we got confused with the bureaucracy, and never followed-up on it (and a year passed unbeknownst to us, and drivers licenses were the last thing on our minds with all the chaos of living abroad in Israel).  I wouldn't even know how to use the bus system to get to a DMV or do all the steps that are required beforehand without a car. 
But here is the bigger question, and this is the point of the pidyon nefesh.  Was this whole event Hashem violently protecting his poor and the downtrodden?!?  I learned that every action in Israel is directed by Hashem himself, and so was I the violator here?  And, if so, DO I EVEN WANT TO LIVE HERE KNOWING HASHEM IS WATCHING EVERY MOVE I DO SO CLOSELY?!? I am a good person, but obviously I have my fair share of sins which I atone for.  Do I really want to live in a place where I can be recognized by Hashem and punished so readily for something [I thought was] as minute as getting annoyed at a poor mentally ill person for soliciting tzedakka at a bank ATM or in a restaurant?!?  AND if he is hitting me so hard so fast for something as small as this (remember, yesterday I just gave our shul 3,000 NIS as a donation, and we give thousands of dollars in tzedakka and maaser every year!), SHOULD I BE AFRAID OF BEING PUNISHED FOR ALL OF THE OTHER SINS THAT I DO?? AND DO I EVEN WANT TO LIVE IN A LAND WHICH SENDS OUT PUNISHMENTS SO STRONGLY, SO QUICKLY, AND SO HARSHLY??  WAS THIS THE REASON OUR HOME WAS BROKEN INTO IN RECHOVOT AND OVER 100,000 NIS WAS STOLEN FROM US??  We already give so much tzedakka!! 
Further, on my mind is leaving Israel.  I spent most of the afternoon in awe of the beautiful land, and feeling so lucky that we could live in Israel (and survive financially).  I was saddened that we spent most of our year "residing in Israel being busy with our very stressful daily lives" without visiting the historical sites, or the various biblical cities (safety permitting) where various events in Torah happened.  It would be such a shame if we missed all of that because we were too busy with school, kids, the tourist sites, and visiting various cities for non-religious amenities. 
I was also a bit saddened that we might be missing out on a meaningful life, as I do love our shul, our community, and the fact that our children are doing well here in Israel.  And, I do not want to be like Yona who "runs" away from Hashem [to America] thinking that Hashem won't see him there because as you clearly said, "Hashem goes down to galus with you." 
It is a few hours later and I just returned from mincha / maariv (shul).  My heart hurts because I don't think I want to be here anymore.  I don't want to work the night shift, and I don't want to have the responsibility of having Hashem watch so closely over me.  I am not a chossid, and I am by far not a perfect person.  I really don't want Hashem attacking me every time I do something bad (or when I neglect to do the million things I *could* be doing.)  I just want some tranquility, some peace, to raise my children in comfort, and to not be killed by some plague or disease, some government entity, or by fanatical crazies.  Can't I just live a "good" life, do my part in helping the world, and be left alone?!?
 NOTE: Image taken from Pixbay, CC0 Public Domain, Free for commercial use, No attribution required.  Link.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

My Letter to the Rebbe asking for a bracha (or, permission) to leave Israel.

Below is a letter (a "pidyon nefesh") that I wrote to the Lubavicher Rebbe.  I sent it to the Ohel via their website, printed out a copy for myself, and I put it in one of the Rebbe's books.

22 Shvat, 5776 
Ana L'orer Rachamim Rabim ba'avor... 
Dear Rebbe, 
As a follow-up to my letter nine months ago, our family has been living in Israel, and as of a few days ago, we have officially spent one year living in Israel. 
As you know, last year, we made Aliyah and we moved to Rechovot.  I learned Chassidus once a week, but because we were unable to fit in with the community (me, my wife, our children) were isolated from the community, and because of a few potential disasters that happened, after spending Sukkos in Beitar Illit, we decided to move to Beitar, and we have been living here happily for the last three months. 
While in Rechovot, we experienced a theft of a lot of money -- over 100K sheckels was stolen, along with whatever else the thieves took when they ransacked the house.  I suspect that the thieves were individuals who looked at our home to rent it after we decided to move to Beitar.  The reason for this is because I almost never left the house, at it appears as if they were stalking us to see when both of us (my wife and I) would leave the house.  They went through our locked door as if it was butter, and the police did almost nothing to help find them.  This saddened us because the income we lost was many months of work (pushing myself every night to work overnight), and we wondered what we did to have Hashem cause this to happen. 
Shortly before the theft, we "lost" our oldest daughter for a few hours because the bus driver who we hired didn't know she did not get on the bus.  My wife drove over to her school, and called me crying that she couldn't find her.  We couldn't find her, and there was no person to call or to hold accountable to know her whereabouts.  In the end, a friend's parent picked her up and took her home, but this did not negate the terror we experienced not knowing where she was, or who to call for help.  Then when I confronted the bus driver, he apologized, but I wanted to punch him in the face because he didn't seem to care that he lost our daughter. 
Then there was the Rechovot community.  We tried to fit in, but there was really nobody that we could befriend.  Much of the community was Hebrew speaking, and even so, the families kept to themselves and did not interact with the other community members, and thus every Shabbos and every day, the kids were stuck after school from 2pm until bedtime without friends to play with or people to interact with, so it was us they turned to, all the time, every day.  We tried to play with them, to learn with them, to take them out to the park, but it was never enough to give either us or the kids any comfort or tranquility.  And after a long day, only then did I need to spend the overnight working at the law firm, every night. 
We moved to Beitar after the theft and after a very difficult few months over the high holidays, where we realized that with all of the time and efforts we put into developing.. [OMITTED PERSONAL STUFF]. 
So we moved to Beitar, and while there is still no place to call my own (still no makom kavuah), at least I am making friends and my kids have friends at school.  We are still not integrating with the community as we would like to, but this is more our fault than anything, as my wife and I are often overwhelmed with just raising our now six children. 
The difficulty is that even here, I am still working crazy overnight hours to work the law firm, and it is taking a toll on us emotionally and no doubt it is affecting my mental health and my physical health.  I never leave the house except to go to shul or to run an errand, and I am feeling lonely, isolated, as if I am (yet again) a prisoner in my own home.  I have been trying to shift my work hours from what has been 4pm-4am (or 4pm-6am) Israel time [6am-6pm Denver, Colorado time] to starting to work at 12pm, but that has almost never been happening.  The reason I have been trying to do this is so that I can live a normal life and wake up with everyone else and go to sleep with everyone else.  It is a work in progress. 
My wife has gotten ill these past few days (we had a stomach virus move between each one of us), and she has been feeling quite homesick and missing our life in Denver.  She feels as if we have made a mistake by moving to Israel, and that the whole experience has been one disaster after another.  She expressed her desire to move back to Denver, and that has released in me an overflowing desire to also leave -- to throw everything into a crate, and to move back to Denver. 
We have had deep and detailed discussions comparing our life in Israel to the life we had in Colorado, and we feel that we made a mistake for coming here.  We would like to go back as soon as possible, and we ask for a beracha for guidance on how to make the correct move both spiritually, physically, as well as how to choose the best time to move. 
Since my wife brought up the topic, I have felt a deep overflowing of remorse and sadness that I have been holding back from the difficulties I have experienced over the past year.  I finally see an end to the sadness, and an end to the constant and daily struggles I have experienced since moving to Israel.  My wife hedges and wants to visit Denver over Pesach to test whether we actually want to go back (or, whether we would be happier staying here), but my heart actually aches from thinking about staying here. 
It really hurts me to be in a room all day and all night with almost no motivation or desire to socialize with the community because I cannot get myself together to shower, to get out of the house, and to socialize with the community.  Rather, I wake up, have a coffee with my wife, sit in my office (upstairs bedroom of our duplex apartment) with no sunlight, and play with the computer, the news, and the kids by day, and work by night, stressing my body to the point of illness.  I miss seeing people, I miss being able to handle problems that come up (now I am an illiterate immigrant who doesn't speak Hebrew well, and this causes such embarassment for me since most of the community now speaks Hebrew [the Anglos are not Chabad and they live somewhere else]), and thus I rely on my wife to handle all of the school issues, all of the electricity, gas, government, taxes, and everything that has to do with speaking Hebrew.  Rather, I sit at home and bring money in to the family while my wife takes care of everything I am incompetent to take care of.  Then on Shabbos, seeing sunlight for the first time all week, I walk to shul disoriented, jetlagged, and a bit "hung over", and then I need to face the community who wonders where I have been all week.  And I have such a difficult time being friendly because I feel disoriented. 
Since my wife started talking to me about leaving back to Denver, I have had a difficult time thinking of anything else, and I cannot wait to leave.  I ask for a beracha that moving back is the healthy option, and that we are able to move as fast as possible to return to Colorado, and to resume the semi-tranquil life that we were living before we left.  I ask that our parnossa be restored to the levels of income we were making in Colorado, and that we "do something" to reconnect with our Jewish roots so that our descent should only be for an ascent.  I ask for a beracha for a smooth and comfortable transition, and I ask for a bracha for the safety of myself and my family both in physical safety, health, tranquility, in their learning, and in living a healthy and meaningful lifestyle. I also ask for a beracha that my children learn well in their school, that they work well with their teachers, and that each of our children develop strong friendships with their classmates, and that us as parents also develop close friendships and integrate with the Denver community, and that we all remain a cohesive family.  Amen.
NOTE: Image taken from Pixbay, CC0 Public Domain, Free for commercial use, No attribution required.  Link.

Monday, February 01, 2016

I've had it with this upside-down work schedule. I simply cannot work the overnight shift or eventually it will kill me.

So I don't know how to phrase this, but we and the kids just got over a stomach flu which circulated from one kid to the next, then to me, then to another kid, and now to my wife.  This happened on our one-year anniversary from making Aliyah celebration, where we went to a hotel which cost us roughly $350USD even though it was off season.  Can you believe hotels are so expensive here?!?

Anyway, in my wife's illness from the stomach flu, she started sharing with me how home sick she was.  She talked about how easy it was in Denver (even when we were living in California), how easy life was.  We had one school where all the kids went to, the school was great, the kids had friends, and ...we had AMAZON PRIME!  Oh Amazon Prime how I miss you from Betar Israel!

While she was merely sharing her feelings of being homesick these past few months, as soon as she did, I myself felt an outpouring of homesickness of the way life used to be in the US.  I woke up in the morning, had breakfast and a coffee, prepared the kids' lunches, saw them off to school, then I went to work in my giant office space where I would work like a normal human being during normal business hours.  I would sometimes call my wife and we would go out to lunch together, or I would stop at home and pick something up, and then go back to work.

At 7pm, I would come home, I would put the kids to bed, say shema, sit down and exchange a few words with my wife over tea, and then we would either watch a show together, or I would play video games into the night.  Whatever the recreation, it was also a way to "de-fuzz" from the tough day at work.  This allowed me to go to sleep at midnight (or sometimes at 1am), and I would wake up refreshed and ready to start my day all over again.

Here in Israel, my schedule is ass backwards.  I wake up at 11am after having been awake until 4am, and I wake up feeling like a zombie.  I stumble out from my office couch (because I rarely sleep in my own bed because the noise in the morning wakes me up), and I greet my wife who is already five hours into her day.  She has already woken up with the kids, gotten them fed, dressed, made lunch, sent them off to school, and then by the time I am waking up, she is either cleaning up the house or relaxing on Facebook.  I fight the inclination to feel like a lazy loser for waking up so late, so I drag myself as if hung over to the kitchen to make myself some coffee.

I come downstairs and I try to have a conversation with my wife (which is where the daily mini-fight comes from, because she is simply not interested in talking and I am intruding on what she calls her "private time").  This is the conversation which often ends up with a "no, you're wrong, it is not like that, it is like this," leading to some huffy puffy hurt feelings, followed by a quiet walk of shame back up to my office to waste away the next few hours.

In Israel, I don't start work until 4pm which is 6am CST when most of my US clients for the law firm wake up.  During these next few hours, while I try to make good use of my time, more often than not, I end up reading about the terrible politicians in the US and what big "O" has done this time, I watch a televised presidential debate on YouTube, or if I am productive, I will listen to a few classes online.  Either way, I burn myself out because there is nothing to do except fry my brain (an activity that should be happening AFTER my work day, not before it).  Then the kids come home, I play with them some until I get overwhelmed, and then 4pm comes along and I need to get to my meetings.  I take a few calls, sit in on a few meetings, and I work my client's cases.  Around 6pm, I get called down for dinner (or sometimes to cook dinner), and I am downstairs until 7pm when it is bedtime.

Then at 7pm after saying shema with the kids and fighting with them to get to bed, I get back to work.  Well, sometimes it is that I only then get to work.  The problem is that by this time, I am WIPED OUT and I really don't want to start my work day, because I am already exhausted from the day I just finished, especially if my wife had me running errands during the day (while I myself agree to do so because otherwise I will be clawing at the walls from cabin fever), or if we went out for a late breakfast together in some cute kosher restaurant on some kibbutz or in Jerusalem.

So I force a few cups of coffee down my throat to get caffeinated, I get on the phone, I force myself to work, and because I'm so tired, I am not so productive.  Not to mention the fact that because I am in an "office" at home (I am working as of this week on getting an office outside the home), I cannot make noise or argue loudly with the opponent attorneys which messes with my ability to work effectively.  Then around 4am, I finish off my day, and crash in bed from a really really unbearably long day.  Oh, and sometimes my 4am's end up being at 6am, after my wife's cell phone alarm wakes her up.

So I've pretty much had it with this "upside-down time" lifestyle, and I want out.  I want to go back to the US when I woke up with society, and when I slept with society.  Here, I feel that my work hours will be the death of me within the next ten years, tops.  I give myself five more years of this before I'm dead of a heart attack or just the unhealthy lifestyle of being awake all night every night (and then having to jetlag myself every shabbos so that I can be awake for shul).

But then I go back and forth about the merits of Israel versus the desire to go back.

NOTE: Image taken from Pixbay, CC0 Public Domain, Free for commercial use, No attribution required.  Link.