As I look out my living room window this early afternoon on this bright and sunny day here in Maaleh Adumim, at the red roofed houses across the wadi and the mountains in the distance, I can’t help but wonder at the marvel and beauty of Israel, of how developed we have become, of how miraculously we continue to survive in the often tenuous and unenviable political and unfriendly environment we find ourselves in. I so appreciate the beauty that is Israel, both the land and the people, (though often enough, do get frustrated and angry with the way many things are done here; I’m learning ever so slowly not to ask ‘why’ and learning to be more assertive), and no more have I felt these feelings than over the past few weeks.
My Aunt Esther, who has been visiting here over the past month, left Israel yesterday to return to her home in Pittsburgh, Pa. She spent last Shabbat with us here in Maaleh Adumim and it was quite refreshing for us to hear her unspoiled characterization and appreciation of Maaleh Adumim. Walking the street with her on Shabbat on our way to shul was like walking with an innocent child seeing something amazing for the very first time and wanting to reach out and touch it. Esther said to me that she tried to imagine where I live before she came but didn’t imagine anything like this. She recalled learning in tanach of this area, of the Midbar Yehuda, but she just couldn’t believe her eyes at the beauty of the mountains around her. Esther hadn’t been here in about 16 years and had never been to Maaleh Adumim. Everything Esther experienced here, every place, her Ulpan experiences with me (how everyone in my class loved her) the other lectures she attended, the people she met, all of these were experienced with a sense of eagerness, excitement, enthusiasm and sheer exhilaration.. She yearned for more. We’d been busy, but she wanted more. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone experience a visit to Israel with sheer unadulterated joy and gratitude. Perhaps that is what I’ve learned most from her visit. That someone with the life experiences and wisdom she possesses has so much to teach us. I’ve said this often to my mother and keenly feel and appreciate my heritage and know, that even if their (my mother’s and Esther’s, or for that matter, anyone’s family heritage) stories don’t always interest us, we have a duty and obligation to hear them, to learn from them. I believe it is vital for children to hear about their past so that their future will be that much more meaningful. Kol Hakavod to you, Esther and thank you for being here. I learned a lot from you. It is always special to have family members visiting.
As you all know, Bibi Netanyahu has decided to impose a ten month building freeze on all new construction in the settlements: i.e.: Judea and Samaria, as another gesture to the Palestinians in the hopes of restarting peace negotiations. He calls it a ‘temporary freeze’ but I doubt that will be the case. Once you’re in it, it’s hard to get out. Maaleh Adumim may or may not be affected by this law: the book is still out on that one, because Maaleh Adumim is considered a city, one day to be adjoining Jerusalem. Additionally, it was announced that close to one thousand Palestinian prisoners will be released for the return, finally, of Gilad Schalit. That number is astounding. One Thousand. The names will be released to the public 48 hours before their release from jail. One Thousand anti-Israel, anti-Semitic terrorists. One Thousand murderers and others. How many with blood on their hands??? And, God forbid, how many of these will return to their terrorist ways?? I question why this is so? Why has it come to this? Why do we keep giving in to terrorists? (I did say I’m learning not to ask why, but some situations just beg that question) With giving away land, money, water, and more and more. It is never enough and we are always accused of being culprits and perpetrators of wrongdoing, of unfairness and inequity to the Palestinians. It is an impossible situation for this government and who knows what to do. Emotions abound, yet all want Gilad Schalit home safely. But again, at what cost? Also on the radar this week was the generous gift donated by Keren Hayesod, Jewish National Fund (JNF) of 3000 trees to the Palestinian Authority. Now I must ask, why in God’s name would this organization give over trees that were bought/grown with money donated by Jews in Israel and abroad?? I don’t think that if any of you donated to this organization that you intended for your money to go towards the beautification of land for Palestinians??? This to me was outrageous, and fortunately, our mayor of Maaleh Adumim did voice his outrage over this. I believe JNF should be ashamed and I know I would think twice before giving to JNF again.
I hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to make or enjoy the festive Turkey meal, but did have cranberry cobbler!! It was strange not celebrating, and even stranger still for Meyer and Eitan to have work/school. But it was fun in the evening when we go to Skype with Michal and Chezky who were in Cherry Hill by my sister for Thanksgiving. We need to do more of that!! It is a lot of fun being able to see and speak to you. So if anyone has skype and wants to talk with us, please let us know. (Hint, hint.. Especially to those of you family and friends who we KNOW have cameras and skype).
Eitan went on an overnight tiyul with his school this past Monday and Tuesday down to the Dead Sea (or near it) and near Masada. They hiked, barbequed, and slept in tents in the wilderness. Their Rabbis went with them and all enjoyed. He did come home quite exhausted though. School is going well for the most part, though some challenges do remain, and his Hebrew is improving daily. Nothing particularly new with Yechezkel. We are still waiting to hear what unit he will be in in the army in March, and probably won’t know for a while. But, he’s looking and feeling great!! Exercise, and of course, Israel, agrees with him. This Shabbat he will be joining in the Rambam Shabbaton, to be held in Torat Schraga in Bayit Vegan. It should be a fun time for all.
It was great seeing Jennifer Reich (Barnett), even for a short time. Like I’ve said so often, we cherish these times. And a special Mazal Tov to you Eli and Allison on Brigitte’s engagement!! As you can tell, we like knowing what’s going on in West Hempstead so please keep us informed.
Meyer is doing well, working hard, learning, and being a solid support for all of our family, thank God. I will be beginning my job search soon, probably right after Chanukah. In the meantime, I am reestablishing some connections I made last January, and hopefully all will go well. We are looking forward to our first Chanukah in Israel. I have vacation from Ulpan and Yechezkel and Eitan both have off from school. Meyer has to work everyday of Chanukah which is no different than in previous years. He’s a little bummed, but what are you going to do? He’s not alone here; there are a lot of people, particularly those in the service industries who do work on Chanukah and he will be like everyone else in the States who has to work on Chanukah. There is a Nefesh B’nefesh Chanukah tiyul that we will be joining, though I can’t remember to where.
This Shabbat will be mellow and uneventful for us which we could use. Not going anywhere, not entertaining anyone, just keeping it mellow. I am not even going to shul. (Sorry, Deb). Just hanging out on reclining chair with blanket and plan to read on Friday night and Shabbat, and just rest. Next Shabbat we will be going to my cousin’s in Efrat for the first Shabbat Chanukah and after that, the next round of guests are coming: My sister Susan and family!!! Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And then shortly after that comes Yeshiva break.. We are so looking forward to seeing some of you.
Well, time to sign off and do some Ulpan homework. We miss you all. With warm wishes for a Happy Chanukah, Chag Sameach. May it truly be Sameach for all.
Love from your Israeli friends/relatives, until next time,