I am writing from Jerusalem. It’s my last touring day of a 2.5 week trip. We leave motzei-Shabbat. Three of four suitcases are packed. I can’t believe how quickly the days flew by. It has been a wonderful trip. For Sean, my husband, it had been far too long since he’d been here. It is our children’s first trip. It was time. As my oldest once said, “My connection to Israel is purely theoretical.
We arrived in the midst of a heat wave. “A heat wave- it’s July!” you might have said, but even for July it was practically unbearable. To make the welcome to Israel experience ever so special, it took us about three hours to get out of the airport. And so, with sweaty, jet-lagged, exhausted teens we met our first day in Israel head-on. Sean and I were all set to begin running to our favourite hangouts, but with more sense, we headed to Kfar Adumim, our home while here, for showers and sleep. On our first Friday we ran the kids ragged. They stayed with us as we walked the streets, exploring only what we pushed them to explore. They were so tired, both physically and mentally; Sean began to worry about their love of Israel being negatively effected. But after Shabbat something changed. Maybe it was a lessening of jet lag. Maybe we’d fed them enough ice cream, cakes, ice coffee from Aroma, or pickles and olives. The space between us as we walked the streets widened. Less and less did they look back to us for confirmation that we were still there. They were beginning to see Israel through their own eyes, rather than ours.
We’d planned to stay mostly around Jerusalem with a day or two in Tel Aviv, and a possible trip north. We’d planned a worry free trip, a trip of food, fun, sunscreen and sightseeing. But Israel is not Disney, and reality is not always so simple.
I wrote this the other day after the missiles began.
I’m sitting in my cousin’s living room in Kfar Adumim, just outside Jerusalem, looking out over Jordan (We really can see the Jordanian horizon from the living room window.) It seems so peaceful, but we know it’s not. Yesterday we were at Latrun. Due to Sean’s questions and friendliness, we ended up beyond the museum in the offices talking to the person in charge there. He told us to “Please don’t go to Akko. Even if someone tells you it’s okay, don’t go.” which was the next day’s plan. He said to Jesse, “Someday you may be able to tell your children you were here when a war began.” Jesse is now with USY. We got to hear them go over the procedures for getting to the safe rooms when we dropped him off.
The matzav doesn’t matter. This is our home, and nothing is going to stop us from enjoying the all too short time we have here. Sean is making plans for our aliyah in a dozen years, and the kids seem nonplussed about the goings on. So we stayed around Jerusalem. On the plus side we managed to see just about everything on our list of things to do here. On Thursday we went to Yad Lakashish, Lifeline for the Old. It’s such a wonderful place. We had a tour and spent lots of money. After we took the LRT to Machane Yehuda to pick up lunch- hot pitot, hummus, techina, tomatoes, celery, and pickles. Back on the LRT, we picnicked in Teddy Park, a new park outside the Jaffa Gate. We sat on a grassy hill overlooking a new municipal fountain. Beautiful and modern, there was a Roman era house excavated and restored just below and the walls of the Old City above. It’s both an amazing and natural juxtaposition. A walk through Yemin Moshe and then back to the Kfar. Before we left, we lay on the grass. Keren wanted to wait an hour for the fountain to start up again. Sean and Gavi were ready to head back. Me- I said to Sean, “I don’t care. I’m here in a beautiful park in Jerusalem. I happy just to breathe the air.”
Back at the Kfar my cousin, and I sat in the entrance to the mirpeset (porch/deck) watching his tortoise eat some of our leftover celery. We were interrupted by the hazakah (sirens announcing the missiles). In the Kfar we have 2 full minutes to get to the miklat. Here, the miklat is normally inhabited by a tortoise and a turtle in a pond. We, four adults, 2 kids, a tortoise and a turtle, listened to the news as we stood/sat among the hay. (Most miklaot don’t have hay. Our miklat is special.) We heard Iron Dome deployed; waited our time, and headed back out, merely inconvenienced, for dinner and ice cream. For us this was just one small moment in time. The kids were great. The sound of Iron Dome startled them, as did us all, but they let the experience roll off their backs. Sean is waking the kids for our last day of touring. He and Gavi are tossing stuffed animals at each other, and I just heard a reference to iron dome as if it was supposed to be a normal part of life
So I sit here writing and wondering. What would Canada or the US do if children on vacations had to be told procedures for safe rooms? Would they continue to talk about proportional response? Would they be dropping leaflets and calling cell phones to get people to vacate their planned bombing areas? Would the population be as disgusted over revenge?
We have just a day and a half left to this trip. Even with the change in situation here, it’s not enough. I would stay the summer happily. I would take the kids to Akko, to Tzefat, to Haifa, to all the places for which we simply didn’t have time. We’ve only just gotten back into the pace of being here. I am jealous of my eldest who has four more weeks.
My cousin asked me if I’d heard from Jesse. We haven’t. He doesn’t have a cell phone, and we trust USY to take care of him, and inform us of anything we need to know. She said, “You make good Israelis.” I sure hope so.