Wednesday, October 19, 2011

4 years. 22 years. 1,941 days.

"To all of the House of Israel: Happy Sukkot!"
Yom revi'i, 21 Tishrei 5772, Hoshana Raba.

In a few days, we will have lived in Israel for four years.

In a few days, we will have been Jewish for 22 years.

Yesterday, our nation welcomed home a native son who has been in captivity for more than five years.

Is it any wonder that life has not stood still long enough to be written about lately?

It's time for an "aliyaversary" retrospective.  I have more pictures than words -- but let me share them with you as they come to mind.  The bottom line:  We have made a place for ourselves here, a place that makes more sense for us than anywhere, of all the fine and interesting places we've ever been.   But we miss you -- and can't wait to see you here!

Our credit card company sends Rosh Hashana greetings.

So does the army!

A banker who has befriended us offers us something sweet for Rosh Hashana.

The ads on the buses advertise sukkah decorations.

My friend Ami got an automated message from Bezeq (the phone company) offering to give him free wake-up calls for Slichot.  I love this country!

Even Neve Daniel has a shuk for Sukkot.  All the quality, none of the travel.

Mishpachat Mizrachi adds a "Parents' Room" wing to the sukkah, decorated with flags from our States of origin.

Would anybody but my Dearly Beloved think of military guidons as sukkah decorations?  (Where's yours, Soldier Boy?  We looked for that Golani "Gdud 12" flag everywhere!)

The view through the "blue glass picture window" is still breathtaking.  (This one's for you, Bubbe.  Thanks for showing up every year, to help your son-in-law with those final construction details.)

History, politics, shellfish -- we've got it all.

Ahhhh...  my leichter.  The sense of home is complete.

I love the Sukkot table setting best of all.

I never liked honey.  But silan -- date honey -- ahhhhhhh!

A "Davening for Stella" excursion to the Kotel... delightfully augmented by a group of Chareidi school girls.  "Oiveenee Malkainee..."

With Standing Together, we visit a group of miliumnikim -- reservists.  I have two questions for them:  "Do you have kids?  Do you have pictures?"  You should have seen the joy with which the cell phone cameras came out!
The Strung-Out Quartet performed American blues and rock with other musicians at the Neve Daniel Jam Session during Chol Hamoed.  It ain't Hershey Park -- but it was a lot of fun nonetheless!

Yaakov and Leah Urso regaled us with an authentic Nashville sound.

Eliezer Barnet playing his homemade cigar box guitar.

We shared our fiddle player Uzi Volman to turn Eliezer into a bluegrass band.
One of the guests in the audience was a mother of a Neve Daniel resident.  Commenting on the concert, she said to her daughter-in-law:  "I love incongruous things and this is one hell of an example!"

Tzvi Zelevski added a sweet Russian soulfulness to his Hebrew tunes.

As the seasons change, we switch from iced coffee to cafe hafuch -- with artwork!
Finally learned the art of the braided round loaf!
Grilled veggies are so ON this time of year, am I right?
Fall and football, right?  Coach gets together for a chol hamoed strategy session with some of his prime gridiron warriors.

The Dearly Beloved took me out for a birthday meal or two, of course...

All of my boys are in uniform these days.
Stunt Man is in an elite Paratroopers unit; and Sports Guy is in an elite football team.

Yes, Doctors Leventhal -- they still leap backwards off of walls.  But thanks to your wisdom, I can mostly duct tape and superglue them back together...

When Robert Kraft's wife left this world, he asked the guys who play for Israel to wear her name on their uniforms as they played in the international competition.  It was their honor and privilege.

In the IDF, you are permitted to say "shehekhiyanu" when you receive your uniform and your weapon.  Why?  Because defending the Jewish people is holy work.
Far from giving up their Yiddishkeit due to army service, as we were so often warned, the boys find opportunities to talk about the beauty of faith in Hashem with fellow soldiers who ask GREAT questions, and show much interest.
Yeshiva Bochur earns the "soldier of the week" award.  And I thought those "My son is on the TA Honor Role" bumper stickers would make me proud...

Visiting Stunt Man outside his base late one chol hamoed evening.  Okay, I know I look a bit "ufgarecht."  I spent most of the visit plucking ants out of my clothing.  Now I fully understand the concept of "shpilkes."

Gilad Shalit returns to the arms of his parents after one thousand, nine hundred and forty-one days in captivity.  We tear our hair over the cost. We embrace him with our full hearts.  Huge emotional conflicts.  This is what it is to be an Israeli.  This is what it has always been to be a Jew.
Photo credit: Kalman Feldman, the talented mechutan

We miss our family in the Old Country, and cannot wait until they return Home!  (This includes ALL of you.)

Hoshana Raba: The seventh day of the holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).
Slichot: penitential prayers said during the time leading up to the High Holy Days
Leichter [Yiddish]: area let up for lighting the Sabbath and holy day candles
Davening: praying
"Oiveenee Malainee": the way the Chareidi Yiddish for the Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King) prayers sounded to my ears
Chol Hamoed: the intermediate days of Jewish holidays -- spent by Israelis in wonderful fun family trips around the country, and musical festivals
Cafe Hafuch: the national drink of Israel, cappuccino -- "hafuch" means upside-down, and we certainly are!
Shehekhiyanu: a special prayer recited over any momentous event thanking G-d for bringing one to this place in time
Ufegerecht: discombobulated
Shpilkes: unable to sit still; ants in the pants -- Don't ask.