There are a few things about living in Israel that never get old: the buzz of Jerusalem on a Friday morning, buses that flash the message “Shanah Tova” or “Chag Sameach,” The Rosh Hashanah and Passover bonuses that I receive at my job; I love living in a country with a Jewish culture. Admittedly, I maintain a strict observance of all Thanksgiving related practice – minus the football- and there is still a warm place in my heart for the movie theater on Christmas Eve, but there is nothing like Israel during the holidays.
Israelis begin their preparations for the fall holidays at some point in mid-August, it’s about that time when they begin to throw around the phrase “Achrei HaChagim,” (after the holidays). Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in the country understands the implication of this phrase: everything gets put on hold until after the holidays, no exceptions. There are particular rules for this “season” and learning to accept rather than fight the trend will make for a much happier holiday season. To name a few: don’t even think about trying to start a new job (you are much better off taking a vacation), assume that all government offices will be closed for two-thirds of this period, never start any type of home repair that will take more than a day’s work by any contractor – if you do, you will have only yourself to blame. In short, whatever it is that you figured was oh so pressing that it couldn’t wait, will have to wait until after the holidays. Over the years I have been on both the giving and receiving end of this phrase, it’s all part of the culture that I love.
Last year, right before Rosh Hashana, l learned that fertility clinics in Jerusalem, and possibly other parts of the country, basically shut down for the entire month Tishrei. A nurse told me in passing and I didn’t give it much thought; we were still in the beginning stages of the fertility treatments- tests and IUIs. I was prescribed drugs that stimulated the development and release of multiple eggs and told that if I were to ovulate over a holiday, then we should try the old-fashioned way. The stimulants at least increased the chances of conception. At the time I thought to myself, by next year we’ll be pregnant so there was no need to worry (I was so naive!)
Yet in the blink of an eye a year passed and we were well into the IVF process ready for another transfer of frozen embryos, but that would only happen “Achrei HaChagim.” When you think about it, it does make sense, IVF is an extremely time-sensitive process and there are too many days when the clinic would be closed. It is easier to slow things down to a full stop and give everyone, staff included, a break. Yes, we could have looked for a private clinic or another option that may have been open, but in the end we decided to take a break and wait. It wasn’t ideal, but also was not horrible to escape the process and enjoy the holidays; our embryos remained safe and sound in the freezer.
Israel is back in full swing and we have returned to our regularly scheduled fertility treatments.