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Danita and Michel Aziza



 
DANITA AZIZA: LESSON #35-GIVE IT A WHIRL

by Danita Aziza, September 15, 2011

My dear friend Judi is known to have the very best retro expressions.

On her most recent visit to Israel she treated us to an exceptionally stellar saying reminiscent of my Grandparents’ era; “give it a whirl”.  Give it a whirl became the catch phrase of her and her husband Joel’s time with us and although they caught a plane back to whence they came, give it a whirl was left behind and incorporated into our everyday lingo.

Give it a whirl so aptly captures so many of the decisions we have made from deciding to spend a year here, to deciding to stay and then many of the decisions we have made in between.  Give it a whirl denotes, in some respects, a pretty carefree and laissez faire attitude although quite the contrary when taken in the context of our thoughts on what school to send Rachel to, whether or not we should encourage Benji to join the IDF, whether Tali should stay on to do university in Israel or return to Canada or deciding to move from one Israeli local to another.

Michel reminds me frequently or more like all the time, that in Israel you need to be decisive and make decisions quickly otherwise you’ll be left behind in the desert sand.  Things happen here so quickly and change even faster and if you are slow off the mark, well you’ll inevitably have to pay some price.  While I’d never describe myself as footloose and fancy free, I certainly gave it a whirl when I suggested to Michel that we build a house from scratch in a town not too familiar, with a contractor we barely knew, without the official language of the Country and quite frankly lacking any previous experience in the business of building.

Call us crazy, but when Tsachi the owner of the house we were renting showed up at our door telling us there was a piece of land he wanted us to buy and that he would build us a house and that we had to decide by tomorrow, Michel and I figured, why not give it a whirl. And a whirl it has been.  From the experience of signing land title documents all in Hebrew without more than a faint clue as to what was written on much of the 50 pieces of paper that required our signature, to communicating our design ideas to an architect whose English was less than precise to purchasing all of the necessary finishings from lights to door handles we certainly have given ourselves an education in Israeli economics and culture that wouldn’t have been so easy to acquired if we hadn’t given it a whirl.

While I don’t profess to knowing much about construction or what is involved in building a house on any parcel of land anywhere, building a house in Israel on Israeli soil has gone beyond the ordinary. The day before the cement was poured, the kablan (contractor) called us to bring money and hamsot (good luck pieces) and throw them into the foundation of the house for mazal, good luck.  I fished out from my purse compartment housing my various “ can’t leave home without” Jewish paraphernalia a piece of paper with blessings and placed it in the ground.  After 14 some moves in the past 25 years I figured a little extra insurance wasn’t going to hurt and I only regret that we didn’t capture the moment on film.

For me building a house in Israel has meant more than just creating a place to house my family, my belongings and to welcome friends and visitors.  For starters we have built in a new area of Even Yehuda, which makes us feel sort of like pioneers with the piles of dirt and unfinished roads surrounding us.  The copious amounts of dust that comes into the house would have driven me bonkers in Canada as would the pounding of hammers at the crack of dawn from the two houses on either side of us still under construction, yet thoughts of being part of the development of this small Israeli town makes all of that tolerable. 

While you are very concerned about staying on budget when you undertake such a venture, we found ourselves rationalizing extra expenses we encountered as not just cost for materials and labor, but providing jobs and income for the workers who built the house and suppliers who provided the materials. The same thinking no doubt could be applied anywhere, but building here in Israel gives it extra significance especially when I consider the number of Arab Israeli workers and young Jewish Israelis who were involved in the construction of our home. Being an environmentalist and minimalist want-to-be, I grappled with many of the things we ended up doing in the house that weren’t entirely keeping with my ethos by believing that I was doing something good for the country in many ways by building a house here.

Unlike many Israelis who are very definite and who sometimes opt for the less than politically correct avenue in their quest for getting exactly what they need and want, Michel and I are still at heart very much Canadian.  Everyone has been very helpful and forthcoming with offering advice in a variety of ways.  One particularly lovely and very eager to help couple who are new neighbors of ours so kindly offered to take care of getting us the best deal and ordering all of the shower doors for the house.  Their offer so generous and their motivation nothing more than wanting to help, we couldn’t help but to give it a whirl and ended up with something that wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.  While the stripes on the doors are a bit dizzying, they are a daily reminder that giving it a whirl doesn’t always result in a favorable outcome, but it’s really ok to hit a bit off the mark for the sake of the whirl.

I’ve done a fair share of whirling and twirling since I found myself living my life in Israel.  Whirling, you might say, has definitely been the centrifuge of this adventure and despite just a spot of uncertainty, an ounce or two of frustration some knucking, dust and not to forget the stripes, I’m pretty pleased that by giving it a whirl, I have “on the whole” (another one of Judi’s gems) enhanced my life.

 

 

 

 

 
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