By Piera

They say the oldest one can learn to speak fluently in a new language is between about eight and twelve years old. Hagar was just barely on the cusp of this window when she immgrated with her father, mother, and brother from Israel to America, and she considers herself lucky -- she was able to pick up English fairly easily.
Hagar and her family lived on Long Island, and her immigration status made her interesting to other kids, so she was “adopted” by three girls who became her best friends for the next couple years. The biggest difference between America and Israel, she said, was that in Israel she felt safe going everywhere by herself. She was walking to school alone by the time she was seven. In America, however, her parents made sure to never let her go anywhere alone.

Hagar moved to America because her father was a doctor and wanted to learn more about everything. He had already seen everything Israel had to offer medically, and America was the best option available. Hagar’s mother was an artist, and she stayed home for the first several years after moving. She also learned to bake, because everyone missed Israeli bread and the only bread available on Long Island at the time was WonderBread, which isn’t exactly comparable to high-quality Israeli bread.

Hagar goes back to Israel to visit her mother and most of her extended family every couple of years, and currently lives in Chicago with her husband and her daughter Amalia. Hagar is most reminded of Israel by something she didn't expect: children's books. Her mother saved some from Hagar's childhood, and gave them to her when she had Amalia. Hagar realized that she remembered the words to books and songs she'd forgotten existed, so in a way, she is reliving her own childhood through her daughter.