That's it - Sunday both Aliza and Davidi start school. I've finished with diapers (except with my grandson and, God willing, those to come); I've finished with afternoon naps (except, if I am lucky, the occasional few I get to take myself), and now I have finished with elementary school, as Aliza enters 7th grade and what we called in America, Junior High School.
I took some friends who just moved to Maale Adumim to the school where Aliza went. It is the first time in more than 10 years that I have no one there. A funny thing happened - I asked for the book list for first grade. The office explained that they only give that out after the child is registered and accepted. Since the parents and child had to come back the following week, they would receive the list then.
Yes, I explained, but the summer is almost over and admitting this child from this family is really a technicality so could we please have the list so that between then and the following week, we could get some of the purchases out of the way. Again they refused. This is a book list for first grade, not state secrets!
At this point, the absurdity got to me. I tried again - and was told to ask the principal. And so I did. He quickly agreed to give us the list and we left triumphant...well, at least with the book list. We're basically ready for school. Davidi has to pack; Aliza has some things to get ready - but the last rays of the summer are shining here in Israel. It was a summer that I wanted to end before it had even begun.
There were many reasons for this, which I don't want to go into, but I spent most of the summer wanting it over and now that the end is coming so soon, I wish it would stay just a little bit longer. If you've never been to Israel, I'll tell you something you may not know. Israel does not actually have four seasons. It basically has two. Summer and winter. One day it is very cold; the next it is suddenly hot. Winter comes almost as a shock each year; summer comes the same way. It is as hot today as it was last week and as it will be next week.
But we're tired of the heat and the land is getting ready for the rainy season. So on Sunday, my youngest children will go back to school. It's all about time marching on and a reminder that time really doesn't stop for anyone or anything.
In our lives, time is measured by school starting and ending, but more, by each week that comes in a rush of work and activities and ends first with the preparations for Shabbat and then the gentle slide into peace.
Whatever was this past week was...whatever will be next week is for the days to come. Now it is about finishing the food, setting the table, putting the laundry away, preparing all that we can...and then stopping.
It's about pulling an umbrella deep over our country and saying to the world - see you on the other side. This is our peace; our rest; our sanity. Whatever will come in the weeks and months ahead are nothing at this moment.
Egypt has moved heavy guns, tanks and planes into the Sinai to hunt the terrorists that are like a plague there. The weapons are a violation of the peace agreement but at least they are not being aimed at us.
Syria continues to murder hundreds, even thousands of their people each week - over 25,000 people have been murdered by the son Assad, who is quickly catching up with his father's legacy.
Gaza remains a cesspool of hatred and terror that feeds itself and craves more. This week as every week, rockets were fired and more smuggling tunnels discovered.
Iran's rhetoric remains high; the threat and promise to attempt to annihilate Israel very real.
And on and on I could go of threats and hypocrisy, of UN sanctions that are meaningless and a US government that is ineffective and irrelevant. But the truth is, as the sun begins to sink lower towards the sea, we are reminded that everything is as it should be, that Shabbat is coming soon.
Summers will come and go; Shabbat remains forever. It is a gift that God gave to the people of Israel, ours to honor and cherish. We separate ourselves from the rest of the world - do what you will...we'll take this time for ourselves and be better for it. Shabbat shalom.