National Israel Bicycle Day, a/k/a Yom Kippur, is a strange blend of people going to synagogue, not a single car on the road at all the entire night or day, and as a result of these two, a big bicycle block party. Towards the end of the fast I took a walk with the kids outside and the place was swarming with people on bikes. There was a large crowd gathering around the synagogue and I noticed several of them occasionally entering to hear the Neilah service. The fast was over just after 6 pm, so we came home had a quick bite and then went back outside to watch neighbors and friends begin to build their sukkot.
The next day we went to the beach. Israel has officially entered vacation mode. When we told people we were moving to Mazkeret Batya and would be 25 minutes from the water, I'm not sure I had in mind what that even meant. I mean midwest living has serious advantages but now that we're so close to the beach I can see the pull to live near the water. This was like landing in San Diego but (any San Diego readers feel free to correct me) I don't think they put Sukkahs up at the beaches in California.
Palmachim is also one of Israel's national parks. Just to save you some time in case you find yourself heading to this beach anytime soon, the first tiny little sign on the left that says Palmachim is a military base so don't turn there. Anyway, when we arrived it was like landing in paradise. This is what you imagine when you picture yourself on a Mediterranean holiday. Pristine sand that felt so wonderful to walk on. Clear swimming water and when you look into the horizon the sky is 6 shades of blue and the water is 8 shades of green. Palm trees and shore line stretching out.
Lital who spent 7 years in Kansas worrying about sharks got onto a boogie board and started wave hopping in the Mediterranean Sea faster than you can hum the theme song to Jaws. Nehemiah was his little fish in water self and Ariella had a blast digging in the sand and chasing after seagulls in Hebrew. I guess she figured these were Israeli birds. Afterwards we went to the food shack for ice cream. I challenge you to find a place in Israel without ice cream. It is after all the land of milk and honey.
Next stop Ikea for lunch. A friend mentioned we could eat there on the way home. I have never lived near an Ikea and certainly would never have been able to eat in their cafeteria even if I had. Let me tell you, trendy feel good furnishings aren't the only thing they do right. Their cafeteria was incredible. I had soup in a bread bowl. We probably stood out a little in our beach clothes (I had no idea this was a date worthy type place) but the food was priced right and delicious.
Next day I took the kids to the Weizmann institute of science while Michael went to Home Center to buy a Sukkah. Can you even imagine going to your local home depot to buy your sukkah and schach? I think I missed the part about their children's museum being outdoors. Fortunately the weather here has started to change and so it wasn't super hot. Plus the good folks at Weizmann have a coffee bar at their children's museum b/c they know that in order for most parents to listen to 3 hours of "mom over here, mom look at this, mom look at me, wow mom how does this work? etc" is going to take at least a double espresso. After 3 hours of levers and pulleys and all types of hands-on fun my 3 children were most in love with the exhibit at the exit. The one that dispenses the sweetest of nectars that children worldwide seem to love. Yes, the coke machine.