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Op-eds

Aliya – the good, the bad and the meshuga

  • BenitaLevin
What we miss most about SA It’s been just over a year since our family of four made aliya, and this week we returned for a visit to Durban. When people ask what we miss most about South Africa, the answer from all four of us is the same: Family. Being able to celebrate at a simcha is a privilege and a joy for all of us. Children reconnect with their cousins as if it’s been 12 days since they last saw each other, not 12 months. The bonds they share will clearly last a lifetime.
by BENITA LEVIN | Mar 29, 2018

The same applies when it comes to solid friendships. Thanks to technology and social media, we are able to keep in touch with good friends on Skype, Facetime and Facebook. My perspective on social media has changed since living oceans apart from so many people we’ve known for years. But nothing beats a cup of coffee and a good chat in person. Again, I know that the real, meaningful friendships will last, no matter where we are in the world.

On a more superficial level, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how good it is to pop into a Woolworths again. For me, it represents predictable quality – you know your clothing size and that the fruit is fresh and delicious. (I’m not an ambassador for the store; I just still believe there is nothing quite like ‘Woolies’.) On more than one occasion, I’ve smiled to myself while contemplating contacting Woolworths management to see if they’d be interested in branching out northwards?

 

The foods we can’t do without

There is no doubt that the food in Israel is one of the country’s tourist attractions – we’ve taken up the Israelis’ love for indulging in falafel, shwarma, unending Israeli breakfasts and humus with everything. But there are certain food items one just has to bring back from a trip to South Africa. These include Five Roses tea, salt and vinegar chips, Pronutro cereal, Romany Cream biscuits, fish-paste and dried mango. Everyone’s lists of favourites obviously varies, but an unofficial snap survey tells me that these items tend to dominate.

That homegrown South African spirit

One of the things I loved most about life in South Africa was the resilience and positivity of the South African spirit. In two recent trips I took here, I noted a sense of pessimism about the political and economic future. There was so much uncertainty about what lay ahead for all South Africans. Today, I feel a renewed sense of optimism – or, rather, cautious optimism. Still, it’s a far more upbeat sense that there is hope for the future. And it’s heartwarming to feel that positivity again. I, like millions of others, hope that real change is on the cards for all...

Home is where the heart is

Many people warned us about taking our children back to South Africa “too soon”. People from all over the world have shared various stories of immigration, and how a trip back to one’s place of origin might be unsettling for young people. My gut told me it wouldn’t be a problem for our children because they’ve adjusted so well to a very different way of life, and we’ve encouraged them to talk openly about anyone or anything they miss. They loved their trip; they loved being spoilt by grandparents, catching up with cousins and school friends, even spending the morning at their old school. But as we opened the door to our flat in Ra’anana, after just over a week away, my 10-year old daughter smiled and said: “It’s good to be back home.”

 

Smile of the week...

Wondering why a waiter in a Durban coffee shop looked puzzled when I ordered a cappuccino. I’d asked for “Hafuch, bevakasha” instead of ordering in English!

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