Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve written, and as I’ve received many inquiries as to when I would resume my writing, I thought, no time like the present. So here goes.
Prior to writing, I decided to check Arutz Sheva, which I haven’t done in a while, to see if there was any new Gilad Schalit news. I wish I hadn’t. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. There was unfortunately, a terrorist attack today just a little while ago in the Shomron community of Shavei Shomron, near Einav. A forty year old father of seven was attacked and killed while driving on route 54. This was the first fatal attack in about seven months and serves as a reminder of the savage, sadistic, animalistic Arab population that live in our midst and with whom our government will forever strive to achieve a working viable peace. It just can’t be that Jewish blood is cheapened like this. We continue making good will gestures towards the Palestinians…removal of road blocks, easing of restrictions on the Palestinians, building freeze in Yehudah and Shomron…etc etc. .All of this, while the Schalit deal remains in the works and we face, yes, the release of our captive soldier with the release of 1000 of these terrorist murderers. There are few words that remain to express my sentiments over this issue and I suppose I will write again on this subject once Gilad is freed (if that is to happen) to the waiting, comforting arms of his mother and father. So I will leave this subject for now. May Hashem revenge the blood of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai.
Chanukah in Israel was wonderful. The colors, sites and sounds of children playing in the streets, the aromas of the sufganiyot and latkes, and the children eating them were treats to all of our senses. The first Shabbat Chanukah we spent with my cousins in Efrat and enjoyed good company and conversation, beautiful davening, very cold weather, and of course sufganiyot!! (At least everyone else enjoyed sufganiyot…they are not my thing)l We also enjoyed participating in a very informative Nefesh B’Nefesh tiyul to a reserve at the northern Dead Sea area, I believe called Ein Tzukim. It was beautiful, peaceful and serene. This was an area in which a few years back there was a fire, set accidentally, that destroyed all of the area’s natural reserve. Within three days of the devastating fire, palm trees and grass started to grow again and the area has since returned to its full natural beauty. We walked down close to the receding shore line of the Dead Sea and then ate a picnic lunch before heading on to the Qumran caves, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. Our guide was a sherut leumi girl who, one could tell, really loved what she was doing. She spoke of the scrolls as proof of Jewish existence in this land for thousands of years and said for her, this is Israel and this is the meaning of being home. All in all an enjoyable day, though not enough hiking for us. We hope Pesach to really go out and hike and see the land.
We were also treated over Chanukah to dinner with Bernie and Gitta Zivotofsky at their lovely apartment in Katamon. Meyer, Yechezkel, Eitan and I all enjoyed spending time with them, sharing stimulating conversation, viewing Bernie’s hiking pictures, and sharing a sumptuous meal. We all enjoyed and appreciated the get together. Come back soon, Gitta and Bernie!!
This past Friday, the last night of Chanukah, my sister Susan, brother in law Yaakov and nephew Ilan arrived from the States and they spent Shabbat here with their other two sons, Avi and Dani, who are learning here. We had a great time talking, laughing, and of course, eating. Shabbat morning we all went early to shul and were treated to the very best Torah ’leiner’ ever!!! Yechezkel leined his Bar Mitzvah parsha melodiously, slowly and with a beautiful Israeli accent. It was so enjoyable and everyone here was delighted and told us that he could lein anytime!!
Ulpan resumed for me on Monday, school resumed for Eitan on Sunday. It was great getting back to the routine of Ulpan. I really missed it. We no longer have a car, as we found it too expensive to continue renting. We have to cut cost somewhere, so for now, Meyer and I are commuters. It’s a little difficult at times and somewhat of an inconvenience, but we manage. I walk about a mile to a supermarket that I enjoy shopping in, shop, and walk home. The supermarket delivers which is a wonderful convenience. Meyer and I both bus in to Jerusalem, he for work, I for Ulpan. We hope in the not too distant future to purchase a used car. I am beginning my employment search now, sooner than I’d like, but such is life and the necessities that go along with it. Like I’ve written in some of my earlier emails, life can be tough here sometimes, but it’s home. Our home.
Susan and Ilan spent time in my Ulpan class on Wednesday which they both enjoyed. Susan felt it was slightly above her level and it amazes me that though I don’t speak as well, I understand almost everything that is said in class and if not, I ask or look up words in my dictionary. She speaks very rapidly and I am really beginning to understand so much more. Now if only my mouth would catch up!! (No jokes please).
Susan and I spent a great day together today…sans children and husbands!!! Truly a great bonding day for both. We went on a walking tour of Maaleh Adumim, Mitzpeh Navo, and the local mall. (The weather was warm and magnificent today. A truly beautiful day with gorgeous views). We ate lunch in Aroma Café, where we chatted like old times. Unfortunately we will not be spending Shabbat together, but we each will have an enjoyable Shabbat hopefully. Susan and family in Jerusalem, and we in Maaleh Adumim with Yechezkel having invited two friends from Yeshiva. Time to cook again!! Susan and clan are leaving early Thursday morning but we will have dinner together Wednesday night. I really don’t want her to leave!!! Why does everyone leave???
Before I sign off, Meyer and I want to wish a sincere Mazal Tov to our dear friends Avraham and Silvia. Though we won’t be there Saturday night to share in the simcha, we cannot think of a more deserving couple than they. Avraham and Silvia, you are and will be in our thoughts and we wish you and the shul continued success and happiness always. May your continued wonderful and unblemished work for the Young Israel be a shining light to all who follow in your footsteps. We love you and miss you.
Well, ho, ho, ho, time for me to sign off. It’s been a busy exhausting few weeks and I must get some sleep. Missing you all and wishing a Shabbat Shalom. This next week promises to be eventful, for good or bad, so I’m sure I’ll have what to write next week. Let’s hope for more good. I don’t recall recently a time when events in Israel were so weighty on all of our minds. Perhaps because we Stepners are living here now, we are more attuned to the profound impact of all that is happening here and their ramifications: The decisions to be made. If ever there were a time for tefillot, now would be it. And I am not one to rest on tefillot alone. We need more action. We need more noise, more vociferous outrage at what is happening around us. But, tefillot can’t hurt. When all are sitting in shul this Shabbat, please bear in mind the week to come. Please when Tefilla lishlom Medinat Yisrael is recited, please really listen. Recite. Listen to the Misheberach for Gilad Schalit. Be there. Be here.
With love always,