So, here we are, a few hours before Passover. This is the fourth year that we are spending Passover in Israel. Passover, or Pesach, is the holiday of freedom. The Jewish people were taken from slavery to freedom, going from a broken people to becoming a nation. The concepts of Passover are amazing universal messages: no man should lord over another, no man should own another, no nation should think that others are beneath them or inferior to them. The Seder tonight reenacts the Exodus from Egypt, and the acceptance by the Jews of the responsibility of being a nation; to build a society and to serve G-d. I think these are messages that are no less important today as 3000 years ago; in fact, maybe more so. When we look at the world today, people clearly have not embodied what had been taught millennia ago.
The past 10 days have been ultra-eventful, so get set! We left off in Switzerland, in the lovely town of Interlaken. We were attending the 7th International IVIg Congress which was a small meeting of about 200 researchers in Immunology and related fields. The unifying theme was the use of intravenous immunoglobulin in treatment of diseases. I recently published a paper that received quite a bit of notice at the meeting, so it was a lot of fun to discuss theories and practicalities (and politics) in the field with the others. We had a really nice Shabbat, with nice mild weather, perfect for a long walk to one of the lakes, which took up a good part of late Saturday afternoon. The lakes were nestled between a series of mountains, making it quite idyllic, a lot like Aspen (but not quite as built up or affluent in the town).
Sunday morning, we were off to Israel, taking the first train of the day from Interlaken to the Zurich Airport. Not only is it super convenient to take the train to the airport, but the luggage drop off is in the train station, so you are free of your bags in minutes. Then off to the terminal and a flight to Israel, landing at 2:30. The next major stop would be Bilha and Chai’s wedding, with a few minor stops in between….Car pick up, Netanya to drop off our bags and get dressed , Givat Shmuel to pick up Ariel, Gila and Elisha and then to the wedding hall. Luckily, the wedding hall was a five minute drive from Ariel’s house! That made things work out just perfectly. The wedding was gorgeous, with many highlights, including the fact that Bilha’s brother Yacov was the Mesader Kedushin, the presiding clergy for the wedding. That made it all the more meaningful. There was a nice cohort of Montrealers, both present and past, who came to celebrate with the Fruchter family. Of course great food and terrific music topped off the evening.
The next two days were ideal grandparent days. Since Gila and Ariel are both in school (although Gila has been off for maternity leave) they took advantage of the “free” child care to have us hang out with Elisha. As you can see by the accompanying pictures, he is a real sweetie! He is beginning to be playful, looking at toys and following, an occasional smile…perfect 6 week old behavior. So, we strolled him around the local mall and around campus. He played his part really well too, sleeping or lying contented unless he needed feeding. Definitely a classy baby.
Mixing a bit of business with the pleasure, I visited Tel Aviv University and gave a lecture to the immunology group,which was well received. My host was a superb immunologist named Ariel Munitz, who’s work I have followed as he trained with a good friend, Marc Rothenberg. Here is a new security wrinkle. You don’t just press up or down to call an elevator in the medical school building. You tell it which floor you want to go to and it tells you which elevator to take. When you get it there are no buttons to push. I am not sure why that is helpful, but it was a great conversation piece.
The rest of the time was punctuated with visits with Sylvia and Haim Fruchter in Netanya, and with Michal and Ronen Sela and family on a beach outside Netanya. Sylvia and Haim were in post wedding mode, visiting family and friends and criss-crossing the county. We picked up Gila and Ariel and the baby on Thursday to give them a bit of a pre-Passover holiday near the beach. We took some very nice sea-side walks, hung out and had a really nice Shabbat together. Sunday included Passover preparations, although this year, things would be a bit different for us, as we were not hosting the Seder, but rather we are joining Gila’s family for Seder on Monday night. We’re very excited about spending the next couple of days in Neve Daniel. Check out an article about Geula in this week's Jerusalem Post and her painitngs!
Of course, life is not always about vacations and fun. A few people noticed that I didn’t send out a post in the customary way on Friday afternoon. This was because at the time we were a bit pre-occupied about things going on in Toronto. Our youngest grandson, Nadav, had been vomiting for a few days, and was evaluated at the Hospital for Sick Children. They diagnosed a small intestinal obstruction (pyloric stenosis) which required a small surgical procedure on Wednesday night. He improved nicely, but as of the beginning of Shabbat in Israel, we did not know if he would be discharged. We are happy to report that he left the hospital on Friday midafternoon, and based on a great Skype call yesterday, it is clear that he is back to normal! He fed really well Saturday and Sunday . Shoshana and Shlomo were super happy to have their little brother (and parents) home and everyone was back to the daily tasks like shopping and cooking for Passover! Kudos to the nursing and medical staff at Sick Kids for a job very well done!
So, Thank G-d, everyone in the family is at home (or at least in someone’s home!) and will be celebrating Passover with loved ones; we with the Twersky’s in Israel, Elan and Nomi and co. with Nomi’s family in Toronto, Daniella, Monty and Tali with the Wagner clan in Toronto, my mom in Edmonton with my sister Roanne, etc…! As we sit around the Seder table discussing the Exodus from Egypt and the concept of freedom, we will pause to be thankful for both the ups and downs of life, because without the challenges, it may be hard to truly appreciate the good things.
Wishing everyone a Happy Passover, and Chag Kasher v’sameach and a Happy Easter!
Barbara and Bruce
Mazel Tov to Bilha and Chai on their marriage last week! Mazel Tov to our great Friends Sylvia and Haim
Fruchter and family on this wonderful simcha!
Mazel to to Ashi and Dassy Stenge and Grandma Gail on the birth of a baby boy!
Mazel to to Moti and Sarah Stenge and Savta Gail on the birth of twin boys! Busy week!!
Happy Birthday to R’ Elan in Toronto
Happy Birthday to David Weisz in Edmonton
Happy Birthday to Josh Samuel in Montreal!