Living in Israel one constantly hears stories that warrant the tagline – “Only in Israel”. This past Friday night I had one of those encounters. Two weeks ago, when the war ended, I resumed my Shabbat morning tradition of taking an extended walk along the Tel Baruch beach in North Tel Aviv (since I no longer had to worry about where to run if there was a “red alert”.) During the course of the walk I decided to sport my hat as author of Newsweek’s “Tel Aviv Diaries” to ask some people what they thought of the current situation, and to share what they thought was going to happen next. One Israeli couple whom I spoke with were particularly engaging. They gave me the line that ultimately led my story: “What was, is what will be”. I continued to chat with the couple. We discovered we had much in common. We even knew a number of the same people. He was a lawyer. She was a surgeon. They were in the midst of transitioning from living in Jerusalem to becoming residents of Tel Aviv. We decided to remain in contact, and I soon invited them for Friday night dinner in our home.
We had a lovely dinner and discovered even more friends and acquaintances we had in common. After dinner my guest even called one of his dear friends from the United States (saying “you won’t guess whose house we are currently visiting.) The number of connections we shared was simply astounding. The same was true regarding our shared interests. Though, in many ways, that is a typical Israel story of our generation.
Then, what had been a very nice social occasion turned into an almost surreal experience. Towards the end of the evening the wife began staring at one of the paintings on our living room wall. She quickly asked me the name of the painter. When I told her that the painter’s name was “Weintraub”, she gasped. Apparently, the painter –Weintraub – was the father of one of their closest friends. The husband took a snapshot of painting and swiftly emailed the image to their friend. The friend immediately wanted to know whether or not the painting was for sale. She went on to reveal that she was the little girl in the picture. She vividly recalled the day that her dad wanted to paint picture of a particular girl, and asked her to dress up in those clothes and serve as his model.
The painting in question was one of the first paintings bought by my parents (who became art collectors). They had purchased the painting in Israel on one of their early trips, (I believe in in 1965 during our first visit to Israel.) This painting always hung prominently in the entrance foyer of their home. It was clearly my mom’s favorite painting in their collection. A little more than three years ago, when it was time for my parents to pack up those parts of their house that they wanted to bring with them to Israel, (they had planned to move here with us), that painting of the young girl was one of the few paintings they chose to ship.
Sadly, my mom, Sue Schulman, died a few weeks before we were scheduled to move. Her favorite painting was already aboard a ship headed here. My mom, whose Yahrzeit was exactly one week ago today never got to see her painting hanging once again in Israel. Yet, what a very strange twist of fate transpired here the other night. Suddenly, with out any warning – in my apartment in Tel Aviv – I was talking on the phone with the “young girl” who lived on the wall at my parents’ house in New Rochelle (for most of my life) and remains hanging in my apartment in Tel Aviv … Only in Israel.