What a crazy week this has been. It seems that the world is raging around us. In the U.S., the horrible attack in Boston, poison sent to a U.S. Senator, and the fertilizer plant tragedy in Oklahoma seem to have come as a one-two-three punch to all of us.
On the Israeli end, terrorists fired rockets from the Sinai into Eilat. Thank God everyone got to safety before the rockets landed.
It seems strange to blog about "everyday life" in light of these events, but everyday life must go on. In fact, affirming everyday life may be among the best tools we have to deal with tragedy. To that end:
Last week was Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) which is followed by Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day). It is a difficult transition to go from a very sad day to a very happy day and L actually asked me as we were headed out for a Memorial Ceremony before beginning the Independence day celebration how people could go from being so sad to so happy. The night Memorial Day started N went to a program with a friend. I stayed home with the girls because A is too young to understand and I wasn't sure how much L would understand (especially as it is of course in Hebrew). When N got home I sat down to talk about it with him. He told me it was very sad because many young soldiers had died when they had their whole lives ahead of them. He also told me that he felt scared because "when they were reading the names from the list I realized that my name could be on that list one day, and I don't want it to." What could I say? It's scary for all of us and something that I hope we never ever have to face. The sirens sound for a moment of silence at night and once during the day. It is a very powerful sound and emotion as an entire nation of people stops to recognize, remember and mourn those killed in action.
This is all followed by a huge celebration that marks Israeli Independence Day. I had heard about how amazing Yom Haatzmaut is in Israel so I was sort of prepared to be disappointed. I figured that reports had likely been exaggerated. Boy was I wrong. First we went to a Memorial ceremony at our local congregation. I didn't understand all of it but they did a good job, remembering and mourning. They read names from a list of people who had relatives in our congregation. Unfortunately, with Israel being such a small country and so surrounded by enemies, many families had a loved one whose name was read. There was a drum roll and the raising of the Israeli flag from half mast. Afterwards we all sang the national anthem and then the kids performed some songs and dances and we all joined in for some traditional folk dancing. Next we headed to the main drag in our town "Rothschild Street." It is hard to describe the scene. What a feast for the senses. It was like one long street fair/carnival. There was music and dancing and street performers, fire eaters, jugglers, people on stilts, people as statues, balloons, kids carnival games. And of course tons of street fair food. I had no idea cotton candy was so delicious. The excitement and celebration was unbelievable (and Tricia if you're reading---not like that.) I don't think I have ever been to a party like that. Our little town did an amazing job. Savta Joanie and Saba Paul also had a thrilling time (Joan could have been hired as the town photographer). We even met the mayor and told him that we were new immigrants to the town and had our picture taken with him. We dragged the kids away at midnight but they were still going strong.
Also, my dad who had been in the hospital a few days after his first chemo gained his independence and went home on Yom Haatzmaut. Hooray!
The next day we went to an air force base across the street. Five thousand of our closest friends had the same idea so it took about an hour to get to the base once we exited our town (normally perhaps a 7 minute drive). It was super duper windy but that did not stop the air force from doing an amazing Red Baron air show! We had fun again looking at all the different air crafts and exhibits (and of course eating the ice cream, popcorn and cotton candy!). Interestingly, N proclaimed that he would wait to leave Israel for the major leagues until after his army service. He even turned to L and told her "hey, we'll be in the army at the same time."
A few days later marked the end of the visit from grandparents. They took us out for a last night celebration dinner. Funnily, the restaurant was called "Breishit" (beginnings). But to be so cliche, I suppose every ending is a beginning. Anyway, the restaurant was in a nearby town which is rather artsy and fun. It was a very quaint, rustic setting and after a fabulous meal (who knew Israelis had so mastered fish and chips!) we went out to the courtyard where N filmed his first movie "Chicken and the Roosters." It is about a man who is called Chicken because he is afraid of so much. He must get an egg from the roosters in order to have a perfect breakfast. It's a comedy. He wanted me to post it to the blog but since Michael was the main actor and Saba Paul had a large role I'll need to get their permission. L and A did some song and dance performances for us and then we went back to Mazkeret to have cake as a belated birthday celebration for N and L. Was really a perfect evening. It was hard to say goodbye.
Yesterday, we got back into some routine. The kids took my ipad and were trying to get Siri (who can be addressed even when the ipad is locked) to give them the password for the parental lock. At a certain point I think A was highly confused. Wait a minute, she wondered, "how does it talk without a mouth?" She was clearly recalling some theological questions she has been asking about how God can "speak", although incorporeal. Is Siri. . . ?