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Joie d’Aviv (or: My day of paradoxes)

When you hate the beach as much as he does, you don't expect the Zionist dream to manifest between surf and sand

I spent the day at the beach. Anyone who knows me already understands what fresh hell that is for me. I can’t stand the beach. To say I hate the beach is to deal in gross understatements.

And yet, I was there with my wife and children. And I suddenly found myself enjoying every moment of that torture. I loved it. And then I started loving other terrible aspects of it.

I got sand everywhere. Every. Freakin’. Where. One terrible movie perfectly summed up my feelings on sand.

And yet, it was mostly from when I sat on the shore to help my 4-year-old build her first sandcastle. I spent a stupid amount of money on one of those sand molds in the shape of a double turret. Stupid rookie dad move, I know. But the first time she packed in the wet sand and turned it over and lifted it to see the perfectly shaped castle, her smile made it worth every agorah.

I got salt water in my mouth. I got salt water in my nose. I got salt water in my eyes. Apart from the sand, the part I hate most about most beaches is the salt water. Yuck.

And yet, I got all that awful brine in my face while I was splashing with my energetically inquisitive (read: crazy) 1-year-old, as she experienced waves for the first time. And even though she was repeatedly knocked down by the surf, it did nothing to diminish her amazement. I may have had a thousand little heart attacks each time she was thrown face-down or butt-first into the water, but not her; she just got right back up and chased the next wave. She was basically tubthumping without all the alcohol (המבין יבין).

I was in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv, the first modern Hebrew city. The city of Hebrew theater, Hebrew literature, Hebrew movies, and Hebrew TV.

And yet, every single person on that beach spoke exclusively French (with the exception of my family of Anglophones). I don’t know if they live here or if they’re just visiting; if they moved here out of a sense of ideology or if they were fleeing anti-Semitism; if they saw Israel as a haven or a homeland or both; etc. All I know is that it was wonderful to see all my French compatriots ditching Marseilles for the Banana Beach. I know it’s the same body of water, but this part of the Mediterranean is ours.

Speaking of the sea, I must relate that I did take a few moments to acknowledge the historic Zionist beauty of the scene in front of me. My native-born daughters frolicking in the biblically famous Great Sea on the shores of the city named for Herzl’s vision while surrounded by a veritable ingathering of the exiles (okay, it was two Americans and a beachful of Frenchmen, but it still counts).

I still hate the beach. Yet today’s beach day was a magical day of family treasures and Zionist dreams come true.

About the Author
Proud resident of a town in the heart of Jewish history, still watching it unfold.
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