There is a delightful phenomenon that I have been noticing in my community. I am sure that it happened in the States as well; but either it is more prevalent here, or I was too busy to notice it as much there.
Whether it is Israeli, or generational, or a combination of the two, I see a lot more fathers walking their kids to school, pushing strollers, carrying their babies around in "snugglies," and pushing shopping carts while having lively discussions with two-year-olds about paying for the Bamba before we can open it.
Some local fathers were pleased to offer their thoughts on the subject. Patiently explaining around my pidgin-Hebrew with their pidgin-English, they gave opinions as varied as -- well, as varied as opinions you would expect from a group of Jews.
A slightly older oleh from America agreed with him. "My father used to drop my mother off at the hospital when she went into labor, and then he'd go to work. It wouldn't have been 'normal' for him, in his generation, to spend this much time with the kids."
Another young Israeli father said, "No, it's Israeli. We want to spend more time with the kids. And also it's to give more time to the mother."
A very practical South African oleh said that it's all about the schedule that life in Israel requires. "It depends on who landed the A.M. job, who needs the car -- like that."
Upon occasion, I wasn't sure if I was photographing a father or a big brother walking the little one to gan; but even this variation is one I did not perceive in the States -- at least not as often.
In Baltimore, fathers frequently drove their kids to school. So another factor may be the city vs. small-town differences: It would have been a bit trying for fathers to walk their kids the four miles to the school my sons attended. Naturally, life was lived pretty much between station wagon or van drop-off and pick-up. ("Car Pool" is practically a religious affiliation in Baltimore.) But even when school was not involved, I just don't remember as many fathers having the "dad-and-kid" time to push strollers and shopping carts.
Whatever the reason for the frequency of fathers picking up and dropping off their children, taking them shopping, and in general "hanging out" with them -- it is a pleasure to the eye and ear.
And anybody wanting to make a crack to an Israeli dad about spending too much time playing "Mr. Mom" might want to be sure that the former IDF soldier isn't carrying both a baby in a backpack and his M16.
This post dedicated to all of the kids of Neve Daniel, for cheerfully submitting to these pictures. May you continue to enjoy the bracha that is your Abba for long and healthy years.