I have been visiting a Mediterranean country.
It is a very significant one.
Small yet the main pulse of the world.
I came for many reasons. I have strong ties and history here.
My father escaped the evil of the beginnings of the Holocaust into what was then Palestina.
A mere 16 years old.
His parents had a plan for their three sons. They protected their children along with their community in Czechoslavakia. Sadly there was no escape for them.
They made such sacrifice. I am forever indebted.
My mother unfortunately did endure the unfathomable pain and horrors of the Holocaust, being ripped apart from home, belongings, and family at age 12.
She too was orphaned and eventually found her passage to the land , also prior to its establishment as a state and homeland. Her entry via The Atlit prison camp.
My father passed away over four years ago, thank g-d at the age of 92, ready for the next passage, riddled with the side effects of old age.
I miss that incredible Renaissance man, and feel him greatly when I am in this amazing country.
So I came to celebrate.
I came for Passover, the holiday of freedom.
Holocaust Memorial day/ Yom Hashoah.
The Day of Remembrance/ Yom Hazikaron
Yom Haatzmaut; the day of the establishment of this progressive incredible country.
A family wedding.
And my youngest child, my only son’s graduation from The Technion Medical School.
Yes all things proud.
I came to visit family, and close and significant friends, to find and visit any elderly relatives still with us, and to make sure that we stay connected.
To visit my fathers grave.
The day prior to the Passover holiday , we buried my mothers first cousin, who was also like a sister to my mother. Formerly a soldier who fought for the establishment of this state in the Haganah forces.
She too was 92 and made the best limoncella ever , must retrieve that recipe asap !
She was buried in a special section for Haganah soldiers in the Jerusalem cemetary, Har Hamenuchot.
When my father arrived here as a young teen he soon joined the Haganah, the Israel forces at the time, and fought in the the 1948 War of Independence.
He was proud to be a part of this and the piece of shrapnel forever embedded in his leg as a reminder of this fight.
I am staying in the city he loved.
In his youth , as an orphan, he enjoyed life in Tel Aviv, along with his brothers. Gordon beach, Frishman beach, a bit of malaria from clearing the swamps, but he was strong and recovered.
As an elder person, Jerusalem the holiest city in the world, was more suited for him. Its good air filled his lungs, its hills, its views,and spirituality filled his soul.
I have had great joy in my visit here so far, and some challenges as well.
The celebrations both fun and serious invigorated and filled me,
For the first time I experienced what it feels like to hear the 2 minute siren that halts everyone and everything as a reminder that we remember and honor those who perished and those who survived the Holocaust.
And the 2 sirens for the night and day of Yom Hazikaron, The Day of Remembrance.
There was the visit to Har Herzl, observing so many groups of students and families coming to visit the military burial grounds of Israel, where I also visited my mothers first cousins grave. A cousin who survived the Holocaust, who managed to enter Israel with his brother, immediately fought in the Haganah and died at Latrun.
We visited a lone soldiers grave, a famous lone soldier. They are all precious.
Then came the switch over to Yom Haatzmaut, The Day of Independence, from Shofars blowing to dancing, music, fireworks, wild celebrations, bbqs in every park and backyards across the entire country.
People and groups came pouring in from all over the world for this, and we were celebrating together on the streets of thousands of years of history,
Pure joy and fun!
I have experienced amazing cuisine with so many rich flavors, and I have experienced the challenges of a major crowded noisy city covered in construction, yet covered in amazing cafes.
Every street name evokes a curious piece of history.
I have experienced the challenges of the rental market not always being forthright.
I ended up in a lovely place where the trash collection took place at 1:30 am. The next one was well appointed, but turned out to be located above a laundromat that was probably servicing much of Tel Aviv ! I had to request that they turn off their blasting music at 11 pm. The next one ended up having major renovation inside the beautiful Bauhaus building beginning early in the morning. Trying to escape this noise I would look for cafes, only to have cigarette smoke around me, eventually finding a quiet bookstore cafe to work in. Peace !
Towards the end of my trip, on a lovely evening walk with my son, I tripped in a ditch with a tree planted in it. Someones strange idea of Urban planning. I had quite a tumble that warranted a visit to Terem in Jerusalem, the private urgent care which was actually very efficient and impressive and provided me with an American trained doc from Delaware.
I soon returned to my travels, albeit a bit more delicately for a few days.
As my son said: ” So you can survive climbing for three days in a row, hanging off of cliffs; Mt Arbel, Nachal Sevitan in the Yedidya Forest, Har Meron/Mt Meron, but a Tel Aviv street ?!”
The couple behind me said: ” You fell very well. We have cold beers in our bag, would you like some?!”
Yes, I am very tired of living out of a suitcase. Yet, I am very grateful for this precious opportunity of time . To be here. To celebrate. To find out more about my roots. To discover new things. To observe this vibrant, progressive, growing, World leading country.
They are savvy.
They know their cuisine, their wine, their technology. Their biomedical, scientific and agricultural advances. THE security mavens, True experts in so many areas. Its amazing.
I do miss my immediate family very much. My children and grandchildren, my elderly mother. The stability of my own environment,
But, I never feel lonely.
I am with my nation, and they are nurturers.
They feed you, they notice you. One cannot ever feel anonymous here.
Even on a day when tragedy strikes, such as a flash flood sweeping away 9 creme de la creme students on a special outing. Pure tragedy. The entire country felt it, The entire country wept
I feel the love of these people and see the worlds diversity here, as everyone comes to visit from all over.
From important holy sites to the everyday. To just walking along a street and spotting a young lady leaning on her balcony listening to some fun music, I look up. we start dancing to the rhythm, laugh, and life goes on with a smile.
Where else can you get into your GETT taxi ( the Israeli version of Uber) and meet the sweetest driver who begins to share his life with you and then opens up the top of his cab and the sky and stars are right above and then…he pulls out two karaoke microphones and you are riding thru the streets of Tel Aviv singing with you taxi driver !
I visited a Synagogue in the port city of Acco ( Acre). It was a Tunisian Synagogue. It is also called The Mosaic Synagogue. It is covered in mosaic stones and art of every Biblical verse, every prayer, stained glass, silver carvings, and more. I felt like I stepped inside a tapestry of everything I have ever learned in regard to the worlds creation, its history, Jewish history, the Bible, and prayer.
These are just some of the beats of this country, pronounced sights, smells, and sounds. Biblical, modern, ancient, mystical, free wifi in Tel Aviv, young and hip, old and growing. Soldiers, mothers, colors, we are side by side.
70 years young, 70 years old
its stories are bold
This is our home. This is where we belong.
This is the heart, always was from the start.