Close your eyes…picture yourself flying over desert, seas, ancient ruins, mountains, forests, lakes and castles, then across oceans, rocky cliffs and large cities…and at the end of the journey, you have arrived in a place with friendly faces into the loving arms of family. Imagination? Perhaps, but actually, this was what we did in the middle of the week, flying from Israel to Toronto to end the holiday with the rest of the family. Now to fill in the blanks!
The Passover Seder: Last Monday seems like a long time ago, considering the busy week, but we will wind the clock back to the Seder night at the home of Geula and Yitzhak Twersky. I have written about the Seder each of the past 4 years, and reflected on the amazing educational event that it is. It is much more than telling the Passover story of the Exodus of the Jewish People from Egypt. Done properly, it is truly a re-living of events, an opportunity to place oneself right into the story and feel the power of the experience. The Twersky home was a terrific and unique example of how to accomplish this. Gila has 9 brothers and sisters and 8 of the children (plus Ariel and Elisha) were there for the Seder. Geula had procured a “bag of tricks”; a large sac of toys and games that mirrored themes in the story and were given out throughout the evening to the kids. There were also new books, Haggadot that told the story of Passover, given to the younger siblings. The Twersky teens also prepare a Passover play for all to take part in; a terrific adaptation of the music of Annie to the Pesach story!! As we talked and sang into the wee hours of the morning, everyone seemed to gather more energy as the evening went on, not less!
The next day we were invited to lunch at the home of Chani and Reuven Or. The Ors were our next door neighbors for almost 2 years in Denver. When we were all Denverites, their then teenage daughters were our babysitters and their sons were playmates for Monty and Elan. Fast forward to the present, and there are a lot of grownups and 12 grandchildren! Besides catching up with Reuven and Chani, we had a lot of fun talking to the rest of the family, reminiscing and marveling at where the time has gone. Of course, seeing our own kids and grandchildren means that we are caught in the same time warp!
The Festival of Freedom: One of the beautiful things about our trips to Israel is the joie de vivre, excitement and liveliness in the streets. This is no more apparent than during Passover, when the weather is perfect, most people are on holiday and just about everyone is out on some type of “tiyul” (Hebrew for trip or outing). The streets and squares are packed, the restaurants are full (as if we don’t eat enough on this holiday) and things are really buzzing. Passover is called the holiday of Freedom due to the Exodus from Egypt. Outside of Israel, it seems that everyone is still slaving in the kitchen or in the supermarket, preparing for the holiday for weeks in advance. In Israel, the sense of freedom is palpable as you marvel at the masses of people travelling everywhere.
Oleh Leregel: OK, now it’s time for your bible lesson. Lets’ check Exodus Chapter 34, Leviticus, Chapter 23 and Deuteronomy ,Chapter 15. What is the main theme in common? There are three Jewish holidays, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, which were marked by the entire nation gathering in Jerusalem from the Ancient Biblical times until the destruction of the second Temple in 70AD. These holidays were the Shalosh Regalim; the three festivals that one walked to Jerusalem to gather with the rest of the nation. Although this is no longer part of the official celebration (until such time as the Third Temple is built!) people still flock to Jerusalem on the holidays. Wednesday, before we left for Toronto, Barbara, Gila, Ariel, baby Elisha and I went to Jerusalem and met with Lynda and Alan Zysblatt, Barbara’s cousins. We had lunch just outside the Old City and then walked to the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall. We were joined by thousands of people, Israeli’s and Tourists, streaming through the streets of the ancient Capital. It was an amazing sight, as we jostled to descend to the plaza where the Western Wall is situated and joined groups in prayer next to the Wall. It’s very humbling to think that you are next to the structure that belonged to the Second Temple and that has outlasted over 2 Millennia. This was an appropriate way to say farewell to this leg of the trip, as we headed back to Netanya to pack and prepare for the flight the next morning.
Shabbat: We arrived in Toronto on Thursday evening, just in time to help with dinner and to tuck Shoshana and Shlomo into bed. Friday was a catch up and prepare for Shabbat day, which led into a reunion with the other side of the family! Shabbat was spent at Elan and Nomi’s home in Toronto, and Monty, Daniella and Tali joined us, along with Nomi’s parents Karyn and Robert and sibs Adina and Daniel. Just seeing everyone was great, but watching the kids play together was phenomenal. This was made even more special by seeing Nadav, one week post-op, looking amazing, drinking, playful and smiling like a six week old should! The comment of the weekend was Shlomo’s exclamation this morning that that was the best Shabbat, ‘cuz he could play with his cousin! I think we would second that; having our kids and their kids around makes all of these the best possible Shabbat.
So we are now entering in to the end of the Passover holiday, which in general corresponds with the Easter Holiday, so hopefully everyone reading this will have some special time with their friends and family as we move through this long weekend!
Wishing you a Chag Sameach and Happy Easter!
Barbara and Bruce