Saturday, September 17, 2011

Coming Home to Oakland

I really hope the memories we've created through our travels and life in Israel remain strong in our hearts. In case we forget, we have our blogs which we are having printed into books, one for each of us.
On our last night in Jerusalem, Mark went to a wine festival.  Micah and Jonah and I enjoyed dinner on Emek Refaim and finished packing and went to bed.
We traveled home from Jerusalem through Warsaw and New York.  In a big rush, Mark decided to purchase a couple of bottles of Israeli wine from the duty free store in the Tel Aviv airport.  Well, we get to Warsaw and try to go through security check to get from our arrival gate to our departure gate and the agent there tells us we cannot take the wine through.  Duty free shop forgot to give us a special sealed bag so the liquid wasn't allowed.  We asked if there was ANYTHING we could do.  He said the only option would be to exit the sealed area and check them in one of our backpacks.  So, we got to go through customs, got our European stamp from Poland, and stood in line to check Jonah's backpack, now empty except for two wine bottles and some cushioning clothes and newspapers.  We then got back with plenty of time to spare because our flight was delayed more than 2 hours total.  It was a very frustrating wait.  Every half hour they announced that they would give us an update in a half hour, then a half hour later, the update said, "we'll give you an update in a half hour."  LOL  Luckily, there was a delicious coffee shop there where I had a special hot chocolate and Mark had a special coffee treat.  We finally boarded and flew to New York where we had a now VERY short layover.  We just got our luggage, went through customs, cut to the front of the luggage check-in line and checked in, then cut to the front of the security line, went through security, quick bathroom stop, and picked up some food, and walked right onto our plane boarding for San Francisco.
We got home late in the evening.  Mom and Dad Bloom met us at the airport and brought us home to their house.  We stayed overnight and drove ourselves home in the morning. They had been taking care of my car while we were away so we used my Volvo wagon to drive home from San Mateo to Oakland.
The renters left our house in very good shape.  A few minor things had to be fixed like a slow draining sink, some broken off tiles, etc. but we really didn't have much to do.
We immediately unpacked all our clothes from our suitcases and storage.  We only had one day to unpack and repack for our trip to LA for our cousin's Bat Mitzvah.
However, my college friend Lara was also in town for a short time with her daughter Sophie so we agreed to get together at my house that afternoon and go out to dinner together at our favorite burrito place in Oakland, Los Cantaros on Grand Avenue.
But I got one of the biggest surprises of my life when in the door walked my freshman year college roommate, Jode Gedansky!  It was so excited to see her and get to chat with her about the directions our lives have gone.  We still have lots in common and I was so so happy to reconnect.
The next day we got in the car and drove to Fresno where we met Mom and Dad, Jennifer and Zach for a night in Fresno.  We went to the Fresno Grizzlies game and stayed overnight in the Radisson Hotel there.  It was pretty fun but not as good as in years past.  We couldn't get in too early because there was some kind of season-ticket holders' special event going on before the game.  So no practice balls from the stands, no players hanging out stretching and giving autographs.  Oh well.
Near Fresno we stopped a the Sun Maid Raisin factory store and bought some snacks and a postcard for Rafi "I hope I get my raisins from Fresno." Swidler who is one of Micah and Jonah's friends from All Star Sports Camp in Jerusalem..
The next day we drove to Los Angeles.  It was a wonderful Bat Mitzvah weekend for Maddy starting with the amazing Friday night dinner hosted by the family friends, the Saturday afternoon service and party at the country club, and the Sunday morning brunch at Chris and Laurie's where the kids were swimming while we ate yummy food and chatted with family.
While we were there we got to each some yummy kosher food on Pico, a new meat Mexican place.  YUM!

The weekend rounded out our trip beautifully because we stopped in LA for a long layover on our way to Fiji in March and while we were there we went to Pico, ate Chinese and Japanese food at Shanghai Diamond Garden on Pico, and met Maddy, Laurie, and Samy there for a pre-Bat Mitzvah chat.  What perfect Harbert bookends!  :-)

On our Saturday morning of the Bat Mitzvah weekend, we extended our Israel experience just a bit by attending a Modern Orthodox shul called B'nai David.  We know a couple of families there from Camp Ramah and the service felt very similar to the ones we experienced at Yedidya, Yakar, Shira Chadasha, and Mizmor L'David with a side-by-side mechitzah and a Torah carry through the women's section.
After the Bat Mitzvah weekend, we drove home and life in Oakland began again.  We had three days to get Micah ready to start his new school, CCJDS, and two more days for Jonah to be ready to start at Joaquin Miller in third grade. 

Good news to share - they are both loving school after about a month so far.  Micah has made new friends and is doing well at his schoolwork as a middle schooler
Our first week back, I forgot to go to three things that week.  A TBA book club Monday night, a JM auction envelope stuffing meeting Wednesday night, right across the street from our house, and finally a haircut appointment for both Micah and Jonah on Friday.  Well, Micah's hair was SO long, I don't know how I could have forgotten!  But it made me realize that I needed to start using the calendar that I bought for 10 shekels in Jerusalem.  It's a reminder of our special time there that I am carrying with me this entire school year.
Since then, not so many missed appointments.  We're getting back into the swing of things. I helped with Lice Check and one lunch prep at CCJDS.  I'm helping in the office, library, and working with students at Joaquin Miller.  I'm learning things for my Hadassah Trainers trainings, attending Rosh Chodesh, Hadassah, and WTBA events, and went back to book clubs.  I'm back in yoga class at Barefoot Movement and will start up Core Flow and ballet next week at Shawl-Anderson.  Mark and Jonah both had their birthdays and we enjoyed a San Jose Giants game with cupcakes, a San Francisco Giants game, and a very special musical Havdallah birthday party at our house.  Life is good and full.  We are busy and happy to be home.
Though I will miss our life in Israel, I very much appreciate being back in my chosen community with my special friends and sleeping in my own bed.