There is a strong school of thought here that people should not really stay up all night. The argument is that we should learn for a couple of hours and then go to sleep for five or six hours, returning to shul for davening. This would allow us to be refreshed and attentive for davening, while at the same time maintaining the practice to study Torah the night of the chag. I have a couple of friends who do this—they say that it adds to the value of their davening, and they are much more comfortable this way.
I was not ready to change, though. With the exception of that strange sense that I missed the chag (because it ended before I had a chance to really experience it), we had a terrific chag. Mordechai (age 9) was my chavruta for the evening. This was his first “all-nighter” and no matter how many of his friends went home, he was determined to stick out the whole night. And he did.
I had joked with him that he would fall asleep during Megillat Rut. I was wrong. He fell asleep waiting for us to start the Megilla. His older sister Batya made it all the way to laining before she too fell asleep in her chair. So at the end of davening I had the treat of waking them up and trying to get them moving toward their actual beds.
Shavuot marks the stretch run to the end of the year here. Not only for the schoolchildren who are looking forward to summer, but also for the thousands of your kids who have been here for a year (or two) of learning in yeshivot and seminaries. It is fascinating to see them rushing from place to place, trying to squeeze every last ounce out of the time that remains for them to stay here.
For the first time since our aliyah, all of our kids will be in Israel for the summer. (Chaya may go for a brief two-week trip before she enters into national service for the year—but that doesn’t count.) Aliza and Batya will be going to Israeli sleep-away camps. (For Batya, this will be her first sleep-away experience.) Mordechai, desperate to go himself, begged us to falsify the registration forms and claim that he is a year older. He argued that he is bigger than most kids a year older than him, so why shouldn’t he go? Sigh
This will be the first Shabbat in a couple of months that all of us will be in the same country. Yet, true to form, we will not all be together. Our shul arranged a weekend in Kiryat Arba/Chevron, and we will be taking the three younger kids with us to participate in the Shabbaton.
I was of two minds in considering whether to go for Shabbat. Although there is a famous psak that states that kohanim can go into the Mearah, I personally refrain from it. There is a difference of opinion, and although I cannot set the standards for others (my father in fact, holds by this psak), on a personal level, I am loathe to err in this matter.
We decided to participate when we discovered that the group is davening by the Mearah only on Friday night, so I would not be missing too much.
The older kids, who will not be joining us, have all spent Shabbat in Chevron already. They have gone with their friends, sleeping in empty school classrooms on Shabbat Parashat Chayei Sarah along with thousands of other Jews. So for them, this is less of an experience. Plus, they get to spend a Shabbat with their friends.
It is also good that we will all be together to help prepare and pack for our forthcoming move. We are still not sure where we are going to end up (we will hopefully clear this up in the next week or two), but we know we have to be out by August. So having Chaim home will certainly be a help.
We are trying to get him registered to drive our car. For the first four years that we own our car (purchased with aliyah tax reduction credits), Goldie and I are the only drivers automatically allowed to drive it. As our kids get their licenses to drive, we have to go to the tax offices and get a special release to add them as drivers to the car. Without this release, they are driving illegally. Not only can they get ticketed, our insurance could refuse payment on claims resulting from a kid driving the car without the release.
Chaim, not being Israeli, adds a new dimension to the situation. He has a New York driver’s license, is not an Israeli, and yet is still our son and should be allowed to drive our family car. We called our insurance agent to find out how to register Chaim, and he told us that we should actually get him an Israeli license first. Apparently, since he is our son and comes to visit several times each year for an extended period of time, it is possible that the authorities could rule that he is obligated to get an Israeli license as a non-citizen.
Getting the license requires that he get an eye test, submit a doctor’s certification that he is healthy enough to drive, take two driving lessons from a licensed instructor, and then pass a driving test. It will take a couple of weeks to do. Once he has his license, we will then register him with the tax authorities as an approved driver of our car.
Conveniently, Israel offers something called youth insurance. In it, you register the car and the driver with the company, and they give you an hourly (or maybe daily) rate. When the driver is going to take the car, you call in and activate the insurance. Once he is finished with it, you call in and deactivate it. Since insurance for teens is so expensive here, this allows us to minimize the cost.
With Chaya getting ready to take the driving test as well (it is a much longer process for her to get her license, with a requirement for nearly 30 private lessons with a driving instructor), this will come in very handy. Hopefully, having a couple of drivers who can run the occasional errand or carpool will be beneficial.
We just hope that the process will be as easy in practice as it was in planning. We confirmed some of it at the Customs Authority this week. We originally went to their office to get a permit to buy a refrigerator with aliyah tax credits. However, even though we were told that we had four years to use the refrigerator purchase rights, it turned out that it is only available for three years. So we will pay a few hundred shekels more than we originally planned to. What can you do?