Making Aliyah has its benefits. But how long is one really considered an olah chadasha? For how much longer can I milk my excuse, “but I’m an olah chadasha,” in order to get better service (maybe?) and be excused for my grammar mistakes. When I first made Aliyah, I liked to tell people, “we’re fresh off the boat,” but that era has ended. When will this one?

Today marks my first “aliyaversary” as they like to call it here. Many have shared with me how they celebrate, falafel night, Israeli folk dancing, etc. But none of those feel right for my celebration.

I want to spend my day introspecting about my choice of moving, and how I can make my year ahead more meaningful. Did the move really live up to my dreamy expectations? Did I accomplish all I wanted to this year in this country? Did I actually live in this land the way I envisioned I would, going to kivrei tzaddikim in the auspicious times, joining in on mass Jewish events that give me goosebumps from the amazing energy, visiting the wells of Avraham the week of parishes Toldos, walking through the streets of yerushalayim up to the Kosel during one of the sholosh regalim, as if on oleh regel? Not quiet. Life happens and all those dreams of connecting with Eretz Yisroel, Toras Yisroel, and Ahavas Yisroel get put on the back burner, remaining just a faint, distant longing that continues to simmer waiting to be experienced.

I want to go on a taanus dibbur from speaking English, by speaking only Hebrew for the day and see how that feels. Until now, my first go-to phrase has been, “haim at diberet anglit?” (Do you speak English), to which I continue, if answered in the negative, “Az leat, leat. Haivrit sheli lo kol kach tov” (So slowly slowly, my hebrew is not very good). I then need to focus all my attention on understanding what they are telling me, translating it in my head, thinking up my answer, translating that in my head, and then try to produce a somewhat intelligable answer. I’ve always been good at imitating accents, so my hebrew accent is really not so bad. Many Israelis think I am either Israeli (which truthfully I now am), or of French origin (due to my upbringing in Montreal, my reish gives it away). So when I answer someone in my somewhat flawless accent, I feel like I sound like an uneducated and illiterate person, since my grammar is jumbled and my vocabulary is so limited. But, then again, I can always pull the “I’m an olah chadasha” card and get away with it.

And finally, I want to look back and share my celebration with all my family, friends, and even those strangers who’ve helped me have a “klita kala” (or is it klita kal?). Those who have given me free furniture and toys, that showed support for my efforts, those who’ve translated messages I’ve received or acted as impromptu translators while waiting in line, those who’ve had patience to hear me through and repeat themselves multiple times until I understood them, those who have shown me how to properly use protectsia and haggle, and of course those who have expressed to me with tears in their eyes how special it is that I’ve returned to our land.