Welcome to Israel / by Susie Lubell

Welcome to Israel

Shalom! We arrived yesterday evening with all family members in tact and only missing one piece of luggage - the baby's car seat (he rode commando from the airport), which arrived to my in-laws this morning via London. When we got to passport control and the woman in the next line over cut in front of us when our window became available, I knew we'd arrived in the right country. The older kids went to sleep last night around 11pm and woke up at noon. Not bad. The baby was up pretty much from midnight until 4am. Not great.

Mr. Rosen and I ducked out at 10 this morning to start our administrative journey. We dragged the baby along in an effort to reset his internal clock. First stop, the Ministry of the Interior where we had to change our National ID cards to reflect our marriage and three kids. As we got out of the car I started to put the baby's little fleece slippers on and Mr. Rosen said, I don't think he needs those today (it's about 65 out). I knew that if we didn't put them on I would get reamed by at least eleven older women for exposing my child to the elements. We stopped for a latte at the mall under the ministry and a fifty year old man mentioned to us that it was windy outside and that our baby should have a sweater. Didn't see that one coming. While we were sitting there we also saw a young woman come in with her friends to get coffee wearing the clothes she was trying on from the store next door still with tags and a security device attached. Maybe she got thirsty all of a sudden? Only in Israel.

We headed upstairs to get passport pictures taken and we saw a a religious woman (head covering and modest flowy garb) and her teenage son (side curls and giant knit kippah) in line, both wearing Vibram five-finger frog feet "shoes". I guess the quest for good arch support is universal.

With our photos and baby in hand we headed upstairs to the Ministry. The Bedouin man ahead of us was there to register his newest child too. I overheard the clerk doing triage handing out the numbers at the front desk say to him, first wife or second? Nice. The Bedouin are still keeping it real I guess.

After waiting for about forty minutes, which was not a long wait considering the last time I was here fifteen years ago I actually learned how to knit and completed a six foot long scarf in the time it took before I spoke to anyone official, it's our turn. We are both in the system as citizens but it apparently takes the same system 72 hours from the time we go through passport control to recognize we are in country. We have to come back on Sunday. Minor setback. Fortunately Mr. Rosen can come by himself and complete the task for both of us.

Next up, finalizing the bank account that my in-laws already opened for us. On Thursdays the banks are closed from 12-4 and reopen from 4-7. Until then, the kids are at the park and the baby is asleep and mama needs to take a shower. In queue after the bank, shopping for a refrigerator, Ministry of Absorption, elementary school registration and dealing with our iPhones that don't work here. Good times. So far I have not yelled at anyone or cried or used any vulgar hand gestures.