I hated Family Day in Israel, until I realized this:

Today is family day in Israel, and my kids will go to school and sing songs about Ima and Aba and Saba and Savta frolicking around the citrus orchards

(Because Israelis do love their citrus orchards.)

They will celebrate an idea of family where bellies are always full, beds are always cozy, no one gets divorced or dies young or just disappears.

Because Family Day celebrates an idealized family — lifting it high on that chair just as we lift our kids on their birthdays and brides and grooms after the marriage ceremony.

Family Day is Exalted.

It used to piss me off – because it reinforces a stereotype about what family “looks” like or is “supposed” to look like — a stereotype I used to cherish for too many years until I realized that it just wasn’t true for me.

Because there is no one paradigm – hell, my kids dad and I live in two houses half a mile away from each other. Half the week they’re with me, half the week with him. They have a Grandmother close by who does as much for them as my mom would have done if she were alive.

But their grandfather’s and step grandmother are far away.

Instead, we have friends who help fill in the spaces and the gaps — good friends who have become like family. But there ain’t no room for that in the Family Day art project at school.

But still, we are family.  Messy, complicated, dynamic family.

But while I was writing about this – angry, pissed off (overcompensating, let’s be real) I realised something:

The people who created the idea of Family Day in Israel came from the most humbling, stark and broken terrain of all.

We are a country founded by immigrants who left everything behind — parents, grandparents, everyone. And Holocaust survivors, who lost everything.

The Family they imagined – the perfect family in the citrus orchard (again, we DO love our citrus orchards) was THEIR unattainable dream — and a reflection of the nation they wanted to build.

And you know what? Yeah, every family IS different – and the founders of the state of Israel and the first generation who helped build this state knew that best of all.

And even though my family doesn’t look like the family anyone imagines really — and I bet yours doesn’t, either — the fact that we have the luxury to dream of such a thing and build our own imperfect and wonderful and messy model on our own terms, is worth celebrating.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel, She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems. She now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors and talks to strangers, and writes stories about people. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She also loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.