Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Israel at 60 - An Oleh's Perspective

My aunt, Ronda Israel, has been sending out updates since she and her family have made aliyah 8 years ago, this July. Here is her latest.

Happy 60th Anniversary State of Israel

6 May 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

Like with any good party planning one must invite the guests, and I did,…
make a menu, and I did, grocery shop, I got Aaron to do it, and put
everything in the refrigerator until cooking time, and I did, all 60+ hot
dogs, all 6+ pounds of chopped beef, cold cuts etc. Here in Israel
Independence day is not a celebration unless you have a bar-b-que, with
hamburgers and hot dogs and the works, which means each family has purchases
enough food to feed third world nations! And that’s just what we planned to
do except we don’t have a bar-b-q grill. Ok, no problem we can broil and
bake and make it just as festive as we watch the sunset from our
mirpeset(balcony) and hear the concert from the center of the city and
watch the fireworks over Modi’in, a perfect viewing spot for all our guests
to oooooh and aahhhhhhhh?!

The only problem with this picture perfect scenario is that this morning I
woke up to a refrigerator that was hotter inside than out , a dryer that
needed repair and a vacuum cleaner that didn’t work at all even to suck up
the lint and molted socks from the broken dryer?! Yippeee, and I just
finished having the car repaired with a new radiator and towing?. Are we
having fun yet??? This was all too much to handle as I had to be at the
Kotel this morning for a Bar Mitzvah and brunch?! So like any self
respecting Israeli woman, I called the repair people, and left my loving
husband home to deal with the men who would traipse through my house to try
to fix all my broken electronics…….or they would all go to electronics
heaven where my car radiator was probably hanging out?

On the eve of Yom HaZikaron (Day of Rememberance for Fallen Soldiers
throughout the history of Israel), followed by Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Independence
Day) I was not optimistic that I could get a new fridge delivered before the
end of the week. OY? I could not deal with this as I had to be at the Kotel
pronto, it was a simcha and it was Rosh Chodesh Iyar. The weather was to be
extraordinary and the simcha, a bar mitzvah of new immigrants from Monsey,
NY, celebrating their first Bar mitzvah of 6 children.

Upon arriving at the Kotel, I looked around and saw so many many Christian
tour groups. You could pick a language and within a couple of steps to your
right or left you could hear it spoken. It truly was an ingathering of
humanity. The problem with a simcha at the Kotel is that on the women’s
side, you often cannot hear, from the men’s side, the young boy reading
Torah or leading praying and there always seems to be a group that’s louder.
Yep, today was no exception, the group that was louder was singing their
hearts out in true Carlebach style and I was right there singing along. Lost
in the rhythm of the songs and the beauty of the moment, I was standing in
the middle of the women’s section of the Kotel. I raised my eyes heavenward
to the brightest, bluest sky, forgetting the broken fridge, vacuum, and
dryer and newly repaired car, and just stood there with open hands and
beseeching eyes. As the song “Open up the Gates of Heaven” was being sung,
the Psalm that popped into my head was “I will lift up my eyes to the
heavens from whence cometh my help. My help comes from G-d who made heaven
and earth.” And as happens to me often here in Israel there always seems to
be a response--- if you look for it. And there is was ……..4 huge jets in
formation zooming across the sky making a white and blue stream of lines in
their wake. Preparing to zoom across the heavens on Independence Day, the
Israel Defense Force’s Air Force was out practicing. But for me it was a
siman (sign). Maybe G-d was telling us that while we believe in the might of
the Lord we should also believe in the strength of our own people. Those
jets looked mighty powerful. Maybe we have lost that proud almost
chutzpahdik attitude that won the War of Independence, that won the 6 Day
War and the Yom Kippur War. Maybe we have lost our pride in our own belief
and we have kowtowed to the weaknesses of other nations. The scenario of we
win back our own promised land and then, hand the keys back to the enemy
that seeks to destroy us, should end. We allow katushas to fall on our
people as we shout never again! And we hear about bountiful Israel, the land
of Silicon Wadi and free gifts in your local supermarket and the tzedakah
stops for the poor and needy here. To live here is to be confused and to be
a candidate for high blood pressure. To live here means no day will pass
unnoticed. To be here means that at age 60 we should be proclaiming we are
really 3,060 years old because when G-d gave us this land he gave it to us
for all eternity as long as we would keep it holy for Him. If we were
celebrating 3,060 maybe the world would understand that we are not “Johnny
come latelys” just here for 60 years as interlopers in the Arab world or
occupiers of other peoples land, this land was given to us first …as in In
The Beginning. Knowing and understanding how very long we have been here
would strengthen our resolve and maybe the world’s.(Isn’t it amazing how
planes in the sky can just set one off???)

As I prepared to leave the Kotel, I turned to gather my things and there was
a blonde woman talking to my friend. She was from Finland and she and her
friend had come to Israel to celebrate the 60th Anniversary with the Jewish
People. Clearly, a religious Christian, she was expounding on the beauty of
G-d and the glory of His people coming home. She was so thrilled to be here
and exuded such warmth and humility. There were loads of others just like
her in the area where we were standing. People who had come from all over
the world to celebrate the Anniversary of the State of Israel and they
thanked us for being here. Wow, I felt good! Regardless of her agenda it
was quite a good feeling. My phone rang and there was reality, my husband
who had to get to work not able to stay for repairmen coming later in the
day. Oh boy!

On my way home every lamp pole held an Israeli flag and every building held
billboards wishing everyone a Chag Sameach (happy holiday). On the bus home
to Modi’in I saw buildings going up all over the place--growth, parks,
trees, people, roads and Jews coming home. What a good day!

Upon reaching my house I inspected the broken appliances and soon, the
repairmen started appearing at my door. One by one they repaired, made a
mess and left. The dryer was fixed, the refrigerator was fixed. The vacuum
was still broken, the chopped meat was spoiled and the milk not good. All
small prices to pay for a glorious day. The 3,060th Anniversary party would
go on and we would revel in the amazing fireworks special for the 60th
celebration. We, the Israeli population, will down a few good hot dogs, eat
yummy watermelon, feast on hamburgers and chips and a ton of houmous,
becoming stronger in the belief in ourselves and our place in the world as
we make that L’chaim---“ to Israel and the next 3,060 years?!?! “

with love,

The Israels in Israel, now in our 8th year!


the apple said...

Hehe. We know the Israels, and my mother was *just* telling me about this email. Too funny.

aoc gold said...
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