It’s difficult to describe how different our lives are here in Israel, but I’m going to try. First, we’re living in a city and we have no car (which is a good thing in Tel Aviv), so we walk almost everywhere. Each day we’ve walked between 4-7 miles and after 10 days, it’s beginning to feel good. I laughed when we walked to our friends’ Cindy and Jay’s apartment over a mile away. I would never walk to someone’s house a mile away in NJ! In addition to the fitness benefits, walking enables us to stop and read signs, admire buildings, look in shops, and absorb our surroundings in a way that isn’t possible while driving. Here are some photos of what’s captured our interest yesterday and today: all the building and renovation everywhere in the city, a doorway in our neighborhood, fishermen in Jaffa with the skyscrapers of Tel Aviv in the background, and a magnificent renovated building called The Pagoda for obvious reasons.
Also, we are here on extended vacation and it’s a complete departure from our daily life at home. Every day brings new experiences and adventures. Yesterday and today we spent time with two different relatives of mine. One, my cousin Zilla, I’ve known for over 50 years. Her grandmother and my grandmother were sisters and our mothers were first cousins of the same age. Even though Zilla’s grandmother went to Palestine and my grandmother came to America, they were close their entire lives and our parents were close friends and now Adam is friends with Zilla’s son Yoav. It’s a connection I treasure. Today we spent five hours with her wandering in Jaffa, which was lovely. Here we are together.
The other relative is a new one for me. Paul contacted me 15 years ago from South Africa, telling me his great grandfather and my grandfather were first cousins. He is a professional genealogist living in Israel now and Chuck and I loved meeting him. He shared amazing information about my great, great-great, and great-great-great grandparents. He gave me the transcript from my grandfather’s interview for citizenship, which included all of his addresses in America. I always knew my father and his family lived in West Orange during his high school years, but I never knew where. I now have his address- a couple of miles from our house in South Orange! After we parted, Paul sent us photos of my great grandparents’ gravestones and Chuck’s great grandparents’ gravestones. It was very moving for us. Here we are with Paul in a fabulous vegan restaurant in Tel Aviv, Anastasia.
Tomorrow promises to be a fascinating day. Among other stops with our friend Sharon, we are going to visit a shop called Kuchinate which is owned by a collective of African asylum seeking women that is a project aimed at empowering these women. They make beautiful crocheted products. Here’s their website if you’re interested. https://www.kuchinate.com/ In another post I will write about the difficult plight of African refugees here in Israel, as well as about our visit to the collective.
Then tomorrow night we are going to a Koolulam concert. This will be a happening. Their Facebook page says it is a “social-musical initiative aimed at strengthening the fabric of society, centering around mass-singing events.” Thousands of people will gather tomorrow night in a stadium to sing together “for equality, accessibility and respect.”. We can’t wait and I promise to tell you all about it, but it will take a few days because we are going to Jerusalem for a few days on Wednesday morning. Here’s a video about a Koolulam concert that will give a test of what we’re in for tomorrow night. https://www.facebook.com/koolulam/videos/1246674685471685/
Finally, I leave you tonight with the photo that is on the wall opposite our bed here in Tel Aviv. We giggle each night as we look at the Zionist elders watching over us as Ben Gurion declares the establishment of the state of Israel. What a hoot.