After an uneventful flight on Wednesday night (shoutout to Shoshana who very graciously took me to the airport), I arrived in Israel (last visit was 5 years ago!) on the Thursday night before Chanukah. Adina P was a great travel buddy, eating my dinner and sleeping the entire time. :D She had the window seat, I had the aisle, and an Israeli guy named Ziv sat between us. Fun for him, right? ;) We were a little giddy at the start of the trip and I think he was a little nervous, but in the end there wasn't much conversation between us, being that Adina was unconscious for about 9 (out of the 10) hours.
Once we arrived, Adina headed to Ramat Beit Shemesh and my Tanta Ronda picked me up and we headed to Modiin.
It was wonderful to be back in Israel; I felt like I never left. Modiin has really grown since the last time I was there. It was very cool to be at the exact site of the Chanukah miracle on the actual holiday itself. As Airtime said, some things just go together. It was so wonderful to leave behind all the holiday zaniness in NY and be in Israel, where you can feel Chanukah in the air.
Ronda & Aaron's apartment (also home to the Chocolate Dreams Company) is really lovely. Since they made aliyah 6 years ago I have really missed the family gatherings at their home and it was really terrific to be there, especially for a chag. Finally met the newest family member, Shoko, the dog (my newest best friend ;)).
So sorry to have missed cousin G (he came home the following Shabbat) but hope to catch him when he is in the states. Cousins B & M have gotten so tall, I hardly recognized them! Ronda & I did some produce shopping that evening; the size of the fruit and vegetables is amazing! We bought sweet potatoes that were about 10 inches long! The owner of the store suggested we buy a fruit (can't remember the name of it--I think it's called Anana) that I was able to make a Shehecheyanu on.
Uncle Aaron had to go into Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) that evening so I went along for the ride and popped in to see Chanie N and meet baby Gitty. It was a really nice, impromptu visit. After about 1/2 an hour, Uncle A came back to pick me up and we headed back home.
On Friday I davened (prayed) on the mirpeset (porch) with the view of Harei Yehudah (Judean Hills), and then helped Ronda get ready for Shabbat, cooking all the yummy food, and shmoozing and catching up.
Former Baltimorean and current neighbor in Modiin, Elliot C stopped by with his daughter for an order of chocolate covered pretzels. Went out for a run and got see some more of the city and then lit the chanukiya and welcomed Shabbat.
Went to shul on Shabbat and met some of Ronda & Aaron's lovely friends and neighbors. Shabbat day was quite short and we had a nice little Chanukah party on Motzei Shabbat, with yummy levivot (latkes) and hot chocolate. Watched Yona & Tzvi's wedding DVD and was so sorry to have missed that special simcha last year. You could smell the oil from the menorahs and latkes wherever you went, it was really fun.