We planned this trip for almost a year and got great enjoyment from the long anticipation. During our stay, we savored every moment and now, incredibly, it’s over. Our last few days in Tel Aviv were full- a delicious eating tour of Levinsky Market, a classical concert, a lovely Shabbat dinner with Cindy and Jay and Debby and their Israeli relatives, lots more walking (our last week established my record of over 35 miles), some shopping, a quiet Shabbat with art gallery visits, and generally savoring the ethos of Tel Aviv. Sharing our time in Israel with Cindy and Jay has made this trip more meaningful and fun and we are grateful for their friendship wherever we are.
Our last two days we were in Jerusalem and although we shopped a bit and enjoyed the Mayer Islamic Art Museum, we mostly spent our time with friends and family. An unexpected pleasure was a few hours with our daughter-in-law Rachel, who was in Jerusalem for work. We rarely get time alone with her and it was wonderful to hear her talk about her passionate commitment to her work for Israel and the Jewish people. We visited our young friends Zev and Xenia, and met their beautiful boys for the first time. Exactly three years ago, Chuck and I went to Paris for their wedding and it was touching now to see their growing family, We’ve known Zev since he was two years old when his family arrived in Providence in 1977 and became our dear friends. We visited again with Lee and Mira and had a lovely, conversation filled dinner with their “kids” David and Havi. At age 70, we are blessed with long term friendships, some for 40 or 50 or even 60 years, that have enriched our lives in so many ways. This trip, I was struck with how important it is to grab hold of every opportunity to be, just be, with friends and family. In the end, these relationships with loved ones with whom we’ve shared so much give meaning, joy and context to our lives.
So, what will I remember most about Living the Good Life in Tel Aviv? Obviously, first and foremost, the people we spent our time with, as I just explained. And, most important of the precious people in my life is Chuck. We were together almost every moment in Israel, except when Chuck was riding his bike. (He’s in the Negev now on the Ramah 2019 Bike Ride. Go Chuck!) We are so fortunate to have each other and to be so content just being together. I knew I loved him soon after we met in 1969 (it took Chuck a bit longer, but I’ve forgiven him for that), but I didn’t fully realize then that I had found the kindest, most supportive, loving, and fun partner anyone could imagine. Coming back to the place we met 50 years ago was a gift in our lives and I am grateful beyond words for this shared experience and for my life with Chuck.
And then there’s Hebrew. I love the language! Just as we were ending our stay, I began to think in Hebrew. I’m sure we would have enjoyed this sojourn without speaking the language, especially because almost everyone in Israel speaks English. But, I also know we wouldn’t have had the conversations we had with cab drivers, store keepers, craftspeople, and waiters. One that stands out in my mind is the cab driver who gave us a ten minute dissertation on why he loves Bibi and how the left wing press lies about him. Substitute Trump for Bibi and nothing else needed to be changed! AAARGH! Or the jeweler who told us too many Israelis just want a king who will rule over them absolutely and absolve them from thinking. On a more touching and poignant note, we talked with a cab driver about the joys of grandchildren and he told us how sad he is that his wife didn’t live to see their grandchildren because she died on the day of her surprise 50th birthday party. Israelis are a gregarious people and talking with them is always revealing and interesting.
Finally, being in Israel is a reminder for me that there are miracles in the world. The founding of the modern state of Israel provided a home for millions of refugees, Jews from all over the world who were persecuted, stateless, and/or expelled from their homes. Israel is a nation of immigrants from the Holocaust in Europe, from Arab nations, from Ethiopia, from the former Soviet Union- now all part of the fabric of the country. As I have written before, Israel is an imperfect nation, but still a miraculous one. I pray for better and wiser leadership and most of all for peace and justice in Israel and with her neighbors. And I look forward to our next visit. For now, I’m glad to be home and can’t wait to see my children and grandchildren, sisters, and friends. In May, we will celebrate our grandson Lior becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Another of life’s miracles!
Thank you for joining me on this journey and for your wonderful feedback!