8 years ago today, saw me arriving on my cousin's doorstep in Netanya, Teudat Oleh clutched tightly in hand, having completed the formal process of Aliyah a few hours beforehand. Looking back across those 8 years, it seems hard to believe how quickly the time has gone by and how lucky I have been in arriving where I am today.
I have somehow managed to navigate my way around all the trials and tribulations of living in Israel and come out with a clean bill of health. Ulpan was fun, the army worked out particularly well for me (including them deciding with perfect timing that they didn't need me anymore - a story for a future blog perhaps) and since then I have constantly been gainfully employed. I have even moved jobs at my own volition and not according to the vagaries of the Israeli economy. I don't know too many people who have been employed in the same company for nearly 5 years as I have.
My landlords have been friendly, normal people. My current landlord lives next door and takes the view that I'm in the right as long as I pay the rent on time (which I do, religiously). And as of next month I will no longer have a landlord as I'll be moving to the place which I've bought and am having renovated by a chap who is accompanying me every step of the way and takes care of every small detail.
After moving flat, I will be getting married to a wonderful girl who enjoys cooking and ironing and eats her steaks rarer than I do! I get on brilliantly with my future in-laws.
I have made many great friends and even more friendly acquaintances and there are constantly more people being added into each category.
It hasn't all been easy of course. My beloved father passed away shortly after I made Aliyah and I have been forced to keep track of what my family and friends are doing in their lives by phone calls, texts, MSN and email. My friends have children who I know only as Jpegs.
Living in Israel through extremely turbulent times has proved a strain. I have been fortunate enough not to have been directly involved in a pigua but have had various near misses and have made enough panicked telephone calls for a life time.
Many of my friends have decided that Israel is not for them for various reasons. I applaud them all for having the determination to give the country a try and now have places to stay all over the world.
Reflecting back, although there are a couple of minor gripes and moans, I have, for the most part, had a great experience so far. I still get a kick out of walking to work in the sunshine, of wandering Jerusalem's streets, of the relative quiet on Shabbat, the fact that the meat counter in the Super is kosher and that the next person in the queue will trade recipes and check that I have a place to eat on Friday night - and many, many other things.
I love this country - here's to many more good years.....