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Beverly Kent Goldenberg
Life Member, Hadassah Greater Detroit

Celebrating My Son Oren’s Birthday in Israel—Just Before the War

The entrance to the Hatzar, the Goldenberg Family home in Ramat Gan. Photo courtesy of the author.
The entrance to the Hatzar, the Goldenberg Family home in Ramat Gan. Photo courtesy of the author.
The outside yard of the Hatzar: Left to right: Oren, wearing an Israeli traditional floral birthday wreath made by his Israeli cousin, Shanee; Shanee; her sister Hadar (who currently lives in the Hatzar); their oldest sister Ravit; Oren’s brother Etai. Photo courtesy of the author.
The interior yard of the Hatzar. Left to right: Oren and his brother Etai on the swing that their grandfather, Saba Shmuel, built. Photo courtesy of the author
The entrance of the Goldenberg home. Left to right: Oren as a child on the steps of the family home in the Hatzar; his cousin Ravit; Oren’s brother Etai. Photo courtesy of the author.

“Mom, I decided I want to celebrate my 40th birthday in Israel, at the Hatzar,” our second child, Oren, informed us.

The Hatzar is the courtyard of my husband, Mickey’s, family home. It’s been the Goldenberg family home in Ramat Gan, Israel, since 1934. Mickey’s family immigrated to Palestine from Egypt when Mickey’s father, Shmuel, was 13 years old. Shmuel and his seven siblings were raised in that home.

Over the years, many aunts, uncles and cousins have lived together in several small houses erected around the courtyard. Today, the fifth generation of Goldenbergs are the residents of the family home: our niece Hadar (Mickey’s sister Haya’s youngest daughter), her husband, Nitzan, and their newborn baby girl Yael.

Everyone in the extended family has grown up, visited or lived in this magical residential complex of family love. Delicious meals, holidays, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, Israel Independence Day celebrations, as well as just plain family fun have taken place in this oasis away from the hustle and bustle of city life outside its gate.

Oren was blessed to spend many summers during his childhood with his paternal grandparents, Saba Shmuel and Savta Ester. He swung on the glider that Saba had built, sat on the doorstep of their house eating popsicles with his cousins, and gained independence going alone to the makolet, a small market at the end of the street, a staple of many Israeli neighborhoods.

Numerous visits to Israel, as a family or independently, were sprinkled throughout Oren’s life — for holidays, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, Chetz V’ Keshet (a summer program for high-schoolers), his own bar mitzvah, as well as living independently in Tel Aviv, post college, and, sadly, for his grandparents’ funerals. Although the Hatzar is thousands of miles away, in a different country, far from Oren’s home in Detroit, Michigan, his love for it has extended across the ocean. So, celebrate Oren’s 40th birthday in the Hatzar, we did.

We returned from this wonderful celebration just before the horrific attack of October 7. Joy turned to anguish and fear. Sirens, running to safe rooms and army call-ups took over the lives of our Israeli family. We were fortunate that none of our relatives were at the Nova Music Festival or living in southern Israel. Worry and anxiety took over for all the families in our Jewish homeland. We became glued to the Israeli news, constantly calling our family, day and night.

On yet another Shabbat in October, more anguish invaded our lives –this time in Detroit. On October 21, Samatha Woll, Oren’s childhood classmate, president and comrade in running the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, was stabbed to death. She was found in a pool of blood in front of her Detroit apartment.

We were in shock. I cannot stop visualizing her death and wondering why this happened. Our life of peace, joy and celebration in Israel and our native Detroit has been turned upside down.

It’s now well over 120-days since October 7. The remaining hostages have not been brought home. Soldiers are dying daily. Evacuated families in the north and south are still not living in their homes. Sirens, rocket fire and soldiers dying continue.

May all of the hostages be returned home. May the wounded be healed. May the carnage cease. May soldiers return home alive and uninjured. May Hamas’s rule be destroyed and overturned. May we find a solution to war. May we discover why Samantha was murdered.

We hope and pray that the future will bring peace and security to both of our homes.

Am Yisroel Chai.

About the Author
Beverly Kent Goldenberg has been a life member of Hadassah since 1968 and is a member of the Hadassah Writers' Circle. She was born and raised in Detroit and is a member of the Eleanor Roosevelt Chapter, Hadassah Greater Detroit. A social worker by profession, she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Michigan. Beverly worked at Jewish Family Service and Hillel Day School of Metro Detroit for over 30 years, creating social skills programs for children that were modeled state-wide. Her English teachers always thought that she would become a journalist. Better late than never, she has been writing and publishing memoir pieces and poetry the past several years. Beverly and her Israeli husband, Michael, raised their two sons, Etai (Caroline), a urologist, and Oren, a filmmaker and real estate developer, in Huntington Woods, Michigan, where they still reside today. Beverly is Savta to five grandchildren, Leo, Ami, Estee and Elie, Nesya and a grand-dog, Sparrow.
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