Yom chamishi, 21 Tamuz 5768/23 July 2008, Wednesday.
The last couple of days have been courtesy of Nefesh b'Nefesh. Those guys really know how to throw a party!
Avi and I went to our first NBN Welcome Ceremony, to greet new olim, fresh off the plane. I strongly recommend this experience. It is possible that it qualifies, to some extent, as hachnasat orchim; for even though you are not hosting them in your house, you are welcoming weary travelers Home, with smiles and dancing. What better way can there be to come to a new land!
The most moving part of the program was the acquisition of a shiny new Israeli passport by Frances Greenberg, late of Pittsburgh. Ms. Greenberg, at eighty-eight years of age, stood out from the rest of the hope-filled olim, by the fact that she had already tried to make aliyah once before, and had failed. Seems like the olim on the Exodus, back in 1947, lacked a Rabbi Yehoshua Fass to see the process through.
One of the really wonderful ways Israelis have of getting to know the people and places of their country is through "tiyulim." These little outings -- while not unheard of in Chutz l'Aretz -- really are a national pastime in Israel. Nefesh b'Nefesh offers some splendid tiyulim, at reduced prices, for first-year olim. This time we took a couple of lively boys to visit Be'erot Yitzchak, a kibbutz boasting a "Biblical Zoo," in the north of the country. We were actually interested in visiting the place, as it had been the location of our Soldier Boy's first ulpan, when he made aliyah in 2005. Following in his footsteps, we wanted to see the source of the near-vegetarianism our son preferred after months of cleaning out the dead chickens from the lool... Thankfully, the closest we got to actual chickens was the unbelievable odor emanating from the huge loolim. "Fowl" is the perfect word to describe those creatures. Even a serious carnivore may have opted for a life of broccoli and potatoes, after such a job. One could smell them from the road, as we took an otherwise pleasant tractor ride around the grounds.
The whole day was a wonderful adventure, for my husband and me, and for our son and his friend. Having spent several years on farms as youngsters, Avi and I had a lot about which to reminisce. He had vaguely urine-scented memories of sharing space with "Cousin Ikey" at Uncle Burr's farm. Seems Avi was a strapping fellow, even back then; and his yearly invitations to the farm coincided with haying season. My memories were sweeter. After feeding the animals and milking the cow (during which I perfected the art of shooting a stream of warm milk into a cat's mouth -- and who knows when that will come in handy?), I mostly hung out with my favorite creatures, the goats. As far as I am concerned, they are better pets even than dogs. Even though there was much to see and do on the kibbutz -- from baking pitot to rock climbing, water slides to camel rides, I kept going back to the goats. It was a day of pleasant memories.