Not My First Time

After voting 3 times since my Aliyah less than 3 years ago, the deal was sealed for me. I became convinced that there is no place like here.

It’s far from life in NYC, and I feel grateful.

This year, being in Israel, on Yom Ha Atzmaut, is not my first time, but it feels different. It went from the intense roar of the sirens for memorial day, that brought me to tears, to the next day, when I was faced with more tears, the ones that stem from pure pride and real contentment.

Since the Covid 19 pandemic, there is one message in Israel that is reiterated consistently, that has had a profound impact on me. Whether the news broadcasters make mention, or Israel’s leaders make a point of it, or the commercials on the television refer to the matter, the affect from the reference is quite heart warming. I am speaking about the attention and the reminder repeatedly, to care for the elders. There are those that have begun to either approach an older age, or are already there.

There is a very strong theme that is interweaved into the depth of Israel’s society, and into everyones’ heart and soul. The theme has been received collectively. It includes “Kavod”, sincere respect, coupled with kindness and compassion toward parents of all ages. Children of all ages respect parents, and children of all ages are mutually respected by parents. Everyday, I hear a lot of instructions relayed to children, they’re being told to take care of adults, this is a big deal to me. It especially impresses me, because these instructions are also according to “new rules.” While everyone must stay close to home, many are in a sense feeling an unusual lonliness these days. The advice that’s been spread, strikes me as a sort of role reversal, apparently necessary during these unprecedented times.

I’ve been doing a lot of observing with my time. The care from adult children, grandchildren, and just anyone’s child, while standing outside homes, holding up signs, singing songs, and just trying to catch some kind of quality time, just fills me up and over the top.

Last night the celebration for Yom Ha Atzmaut included well known artists; Nasrin, Omer Adam, Eyal Golan came onto the stage. This took place in Haifa with the Bahai Temple as a back drop (for real) and their audience was the Israeli Navy standing on their ship. Obviously the entertainment was wonderful, and uplifting. It had me dancing in my living room. What struck me the most was once again the reference to all the parents/grandparents still home, waiting for their children to be allowed to visit. The message reminded me that I’m not alone, everyone is waiting for the kids to come home, just like me. It showed me how this country is actually on the same page, and on the same side, at this time.

The television has had many, standing on some platform, in front of this country, and before everything else, they remind all children to take care of their Safta, and their Saba; and I cry happy tears. Why? This impresses upon me the love that’s involved, it is understood that parents and grandparents, and all children, no matter who they are or where they come from, all have the same love. It’s mutually shared and is so crucial to all of our existence.

Often, back from where I came from, people have asked me: what is outstanding here in Israel? My answer is this: it’s a entire country that sings, prays, and cries together. This is the cohesiveness that I’m enjoying on this Independence day. There’s a lot of good stuff surrounding me here in Israel.

I realize that I am a witness to an entire country that can be on one hand, on opposite sides of everything with each other, but this is not now. So, I just want to kvell a little about this place. I am very proud to be a part of Israel.

I dedicate this to my children.

About the Author
Allyson Altit is from New York. She has worked in the travel industry for over 27 years as a leisure specialist. Her area of expertise is in European destinations and Israel. She has been involved with charity work for the Hadassah organization as well. In 2009 she graduated from Queens College majoring in Jewish studies.
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