Weekly Interview: Baila

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Balia has been a regular visitor and commenter on this blog for at least two years and I also read her blog quite frequently. It is therefore a pleasure Baila to welcome you here; thank you for your participation to this series.

Can you introduce yourself in a few words?

My name is Baila and I live in Modi’in, Israel with my husband, Isaac, our daughters, Liat, Tali and Orli and our wonderdog, Ozzy. I am a speech language pathologist by profession.

What is your religious background (if any)?

I guess I am what they used to call a “modern orthodox” Jew. I am observant of the mitzvot, but often feel like religious Jews like to make their lives more difficult for themselves by adding all kinds of stringencies.

When and why did you decide to make aliyah?

I’ve wanted to make Aliyah since I was a teenager. I spent a year after high school on a kibbutz (Hachsharat Bnei Akiva) and was very inspired.
Simply put, I believe Jews belong here and should get here when they can. We made Aliyah in 2007, many years after the dream was sparked.

Where in Israel do you live and is there a special reason you live there?

I live in the new (14 years) city of Modi’in. Practically speaking, we moved here because it is centrally located and we knew a few people living here. But I feel it was my destiny to end up here. Years ago (1985) while visiting Israel, my madrich (counselour) from my kibbutz program took me on a little ride. We stopped across the road from hills that looked like they were in the middle of nowhere. He told me that a city called Modi’in was being planned on those hills and that it was going to be the 4th largest city in Israel. I said, “one day I’m going to live there”, and we both laughed.

And here I am, in a beautiful place to live with a great quality of life.

When and why did you start blogging?

I had been reading blogs for about a year when I began to think, wait a second, this is something I can do. We were about to make Aliyah and I thought it would be a good way to keep in touch with my people that I was leaving behind.

Have you been surprised by the way your blogging activity has evolved over the years?

I never dreamed that strangers from all over the world would read my blog and actually comment. I love it. I used to be shy about telling people about the blog, now I tell everyone I meet—read my blog!! Comment!!— The blog has re-ignited my love of writing. Now that I have fulfilled one of the things on my bucket list (moving to Israel), I am hoping to fulfill a second one—writing a novel. Totally because of the blog.

I am also surprised by the way I feel about some of my fellow bloggers. I feel like I’ve made some friends through the blog—you, Leora, Raizy. Some bloggers have even crossed over into real life—Hannah, Kate, Robin, RivkA, Ruti, Mrs. S.

The blog itself has evolved, I think from an Aliyah blog to a general slice-of-life, with a sprinkling of what it’s like to parent teenagers. I don’t plan the evolution of the blog and it’s fun to watch the places it goes.

To what extent do you feel your blogging activity reflects on the global perception of Israel?

I had written an answer last week to this question, but the question has just gotten more interesting in light of the events of this week. (Baila answered this interview at the beginning of June.)

As a country, Israel has many problems. We are a tiny country, surrounded by states who make no secret of their desire to destroy us. And yet, we are perceived as aggressors because we believe in our right to defend ourselves. It enrages me so much.

I am an American by birth, an Israeli by choice. I love America and the ideals that have been engraved in me as its citizen. I believe in freedom and equal rights and it pains me to see the checkpoints and profiling. But they are a necessary part of our life here, I’m sorry to say. We’ve had bitter experience with what happens when we let our guard down.

My blog is not a political blog. There are other bloggers who do that so much better than I do. But when something like the ambush at sea happens, I feel it is important to express my point of view. Most of my readers feel like I do, so it is mostly preaching to the choir. But I do have some blogger friends who feel differently. Most importantly, I have friends and readers who do not have much experience with the Middle East conflict at all, accept what they read in the local media. I want them to see another side of things.

What post(s) are you most proud of?

Picking a favorite post is like picking a favorite child. I guess for me, one of my most memorable posts is this one, where I try to do the impossible: show gratitude for the generosity of the people in my life.

Gratitude

I find it easiest to write posts that come from the heart:

It’s my first war and I’ll cry if I want to
What I would say at a Chug Aliya
When my pet name reduces me to tears

… and some humorous posts:
These pictures are NOT for the weak of heart…
Do you know where your teens are?

And this one, just plain weird, where 25 commenters literally air their dirty laundry:
Taking a survey

Would you care to share a blog or two you enjoy?

This is also hard, because I enjoy so many. My blogroll has many of my favorites, but I haven’t updated in a long while, and there are more.

I’ve already listed some bloggers I read above. Truth is I like so many, it would take me forever to list them here, and I want to get this to you, ID.

Thank you for this opportunity, Ilana-Davita. It really was fun….

See you on the blog!

P.S.: The pictures are of the “C” towers of Modiin, a view of my window, once during a sandstorm and once on a clear day.

Last week’s interview