Keith Brooks
International Business Executive Living and Working in Israel

When Your Teen Asks to Celebrate Yom Yerushalayim in Jerusalem

When your almost 15-year-old daughter wants to go to Jerusalem with her friends, for Yom Yerushalayim celebrations, what do you tell her?

This was the dilemma my wife and I found ourselves the last day or two. In typical confusing parent mode fashion, we both had reasons to let her go, and not let her go.

If we were in the US still, this would not be an issue, because who lets teens go off on their own to a city almost an hour away? And by public transportation no less? At a high profile event like a Yom Yerushalayim celebration, there probably are some demonstrators outside as well. Yes, the hate filled people never sleep it seems and these days they cannot be trusted to stay peaceful. A sad but true state of the world.

But, we no longer live in the old country, we live in Rehovot where on Yom Haatzmaut we partied until the wee hours with our fellow city dwellers. Religious, not religious, somewhere in between the two, LGBTQ, Israelis, Russians, Americans, Brits, French, Italians, Bnei Menashe and who knows how many others were all out to celebrate. I don’t expect the celebrations tonight in Jerusalem to be any different.

National Israeli holidays, like any other country, bring out the best of everyone and it is a great party. We just have better food J.

If everything is awesome, to steal the Lego movie line, why would we think twice about letting our daughter go up to Jerusalem? A city she barely knows beyond the areas of the shuk and Kotel, to go party with what will probably be a few hundreds of thousands of people (50,000 came out to see Aerosmith in Tel Aviv last week), and your typical craziness of crowds, the wisdom of crowds and the few that take advantage of people ill-prepared for these situations.

Kids learn to be independent here much younger than most places, sometimes because they have to, other times because they can. Israel is, in general, pretty safe. If you think about it, many non-military people carry guns, and know how to use them, it does deter many situations. Still, things can happen of course and as parents, it is our job to imagine the extreme situations. When you live with the prospect of terrorist incidents around you, things like letting kids walk to 3rd or 4th grade school on their own when school is a 10-minute walk doesn’t seem so bad. Sending your kids to the local makolet or bakery on Friday is a normal occurrence. They feel better about themselves and learn some responsibility while gaining confidence in their independence.

Except when they don’t.

When your intelligent daughter can miss curfews, which she set. She catches, literally, the last train back from the Ashdod beach erev Shabbat, when she said she would have been home 2 hours earlier. Yes, trust issues make you question their ability to cross the street let alone go off to celebrate in Jerusalem.

Talking to your teen, as anyone who was one can tell you, doesn’t work very well. I am pretty sure she is listening, she does have an excellent memory, but the application of the information may or may not appear sometime soon. There is also the artistic streak within her which I am pretty sure sees time as the Salvador Dali painting.

We explain about the crowds, keeping her phone, purse/money safe. Remind her about the buses will be packed and to leave enough time to get to the station. Yes, we mentioned that most streets will be closed off or packed with people, even the Light Rail will be filled. We ask what her plans are if they miss the last bus because there are 5 of them going and the limit of the number of people allowed in a taxi is 4. Did they think about meeting places in case they are lost and their phones are dead or because of the crowd the cell towers are over capacity and not working? And what happens if some crazy terrorist decides this is the time to meet their 50 virgins?

Did they think about meeting places in case they are lost and their phones are dead or because of the crowd the cell towers are over capacity and not working? What happens if some terrorist decides this is the time to meet their 50 virgins?

My wife asked where are they going, what they will be doing and when. All reasonable questions but harder to qualify when attending what amounts to an outdoor open festival across most of a city.

Our daughter has some answers for us, she knows not having any answers will not help her plight. She is clueless about what she is about to experience as she embarks on this rite of passage, hopefully, she is not agoraphobic, but there is only one way to find out.

Experience is what brings wisdom. Timing they say is everything, this time we are willing to let her go on her next step on the roller coaster ride known as maturity. Being the eldest child has risks and rewards.

I am jealous, I want to be 17 again in yeshiva at BMT enjoying it all, out on the town with my friends and Rav Benny Eisner z”l.

Yes, some things are best left to the younger generation. Also, as some people point out, we are still new olim and these things are still meaningful to us, we will grow out of it

I disagree.

When you are an immigrant to a new country you relish the things which in your old country are reduced to shopping sales and minimal meaning.

It is our job, as parents, to instill in our children a love of family, religion, and country so they ensure the next 50 years with Jerusalem in our hands are even better than the first 50.

We told her to go and have fun tonight and make sure to make it back to the bus station in time to get on a bus back home.

About the Author
Keith Brooks made Aliyah in 2014 with his wife, 3 kids, and their dog. Keith writes about his Aliyah, Israel and Jewish life in general. Keith advises B2B companies on how to approach their potential clients regarding pricing, marketing and sales pitches. Keith is a MassChallenge Israel mentor, an HCL Master and an IBM Champion.
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