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Danita and Michelle Aziza


By Danita Aziza, Even Yehuda, Israel

Year one of an adventure has turned into year two and we continue in our quest to fulfill our dream of living in Israel.

Living here is indeed a privilege, but certainly not without challenges especially with three kids who have passed the age of caring only that the parents provide them with food, clothing and shelter and worry about nothing much else.

Last year we settled in Caesarea, one of the prettiest and quietest parts of the county.  Beautiful it was, but we were soon to find out that for us the area was a bit too quiet and isolated and we wanted our Israel experience to be filled with a stronger taste of Israeli society and culture.  This year we moved to Even Yehuda just outside of Netanya and it has thus far proven to be the perfect spot for us.

As two of our kids are at the American School we have eliminated a two hour commute and Benji and Rachel are virtually a 10 minute walk to their classroom.  The town dates back to 1932 founded as an orange plantation and is a beautiful blend of the old with the new.  New housing developments are everywhere and yet the spirit of Israel as it was just before Independence is preserved in all its glory.  The center of the town is very small and quaint and actually reminds us a bit of Gimli, Manitoba.

We were really insistent that if Rachel (our 12 year old) was to remain at the American school this year that she would have to integrate somehow in Israeli society so….she has joined Sofim which is Israeli Scouts and takes dance classes at the matnas ( community center.)  One of the greatest moments here has been witnessing almost 100 youth ranging in age from about 9-18 gather for Sofim and sing Israeli songs with as much spirit and gusto as I have ever experienced.   It was a highlight for me to see Rachel get her scouts uniform (even if the pants didn’t quite fit!). Tali ,Rachel, and Benji Azziza with  Daniel Schachter
Tali ,Rachel, and Benji Azziza
with Daniel Schachter

There are days when I can’t quite comprehend that we are actually living here and managing to find our way in a new culture, navigate the highways and streets of most cities and conduct very simple conversations in Hebrew.  That which I once viewed as routine, such as going to a dentist, finding a fish store or filling out a form is always taken as a major victory when the execution goes without a hitch.

At  the age of 47,  I had to take a driving test to get my Israeli license.  I actually took a few lessons prior just to make sure that I would pass. After driving for the past 30 plus years I couldn’t quite believe that I was driving  as nervous as I was when I was 16 with an examiner only fluent in Romanian and Hebrew in the passenger seat evaluating my driving techniques.   

Benji and Rachel Azziza and family pets. 
Benji and Rachel Azziza and family pets.  
We have also added another member to our family.  This country is full of dogs many of whom are abandoned for one reason or another.  There is an amazing organization called S.O.S. that takes dogs and tries to find suitable homes for them so that they won’t need to be put down.  Rachel read about the organization in the Jerusalem Post and convinced us to pay a visit.  It was certainly naïve to think that we could simply go to check out the place without coming home with a furry friend for our 6 year old golden doodle, Coco.  Rocky is an 8 year old tiny terrier who was quick to learn English and has found his place in the hearts of our family.

There is something about living in Israel that makes you do things you never really wanted to do or thought you could do.  I never thought I would adopt a stray dog, learn a new language, drive in Israel, feel at ease with my kids traveling the country on buses and trains and live a meaningful and content life in a place that is at the same time a foreign land yet considered home.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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