Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Under the Stars and Trees of Israel

Part of Israel - is giving your children an opportunity to know the land and to love it. So you take hikes when you can; you stop and look. I never tire of just looking at this land and thinking how grateful we are that this is the land that God gave to us.

That may not be politically correct - this thing about God, but above it all, past the politics, it really does all come down to this endless and forever connection the Jewish people have with Israel. Almost daily, archeologists continue finding traces of this and that. More and more proof of our connection with this land above so many already documented for decades.

It is a never-ending process because our connection is thousands of years old. We know where Abraham was buried...Isaac and Jacob. We know where Rachel rests, and her son Joseph. We know where great rabbis from hundreds of years ago are entombed. We know where over 1,000 Jews took their last stand against the Roman empire and where Jewish kings built their palaces.

We know so much...and still there is so much to know.

Davidi is a counselor in a local youth group. On Sunday night, he slept among the stars in the north with his group. On Monday, Aliza left with her group. She'll be gone three nights and four days - hiking, camping out, singing.

She calls me when she wants to reach out. She's 13 years old, but still very attached (and since she's my youngest, I'll confess that I'm still attached too). She told me about how they hiked for hours and what she ate. They cooked the noodles too long, but it wasn't that bad. She still has plenty of nosh and other foods left over. She drank the full two liters of water and was sorry she had left the third liter in her overnight pack.

It was terribly cold last night, she told me. They slept between trees in a forest. When she woke up, she just looked up at the trees. I can see her there, I can imagine it. It was a little bit scary, she thought, and then she feel back asleep. "I woke up when there was a little blue in the sky." I have always loved those moments in the earliest hours of the new day when you notice the sky isn't quite as dark as it was...and the blue becomes lighter and lighter. I love the idea of my youngest seeing those moments.

I was concerned about her taking her iPod - she got it as a gift for her bat mitzvah and she's taken really good care of it. It's over 18 months old - and the pins where she has to recharge it are bent, but it is what it is and they are so expensive in Israel, I really can't afford a new one for her. 

I didn't want her to take it. It could so easily be broken or stolen but it was her choice. She has to learn to accept the consequences of her actions and part of that means my letting her. I expressed my concerns and will totally pray that I am wrong and all will be well. So this morning, she was quick to tell me, "I still have my iPod" when she called.

After three boys, she is such a girl. She loves purple - everything has to be purple. Since Davidi was leaving first, he took the flat mat they sleep with under the sleeping bags, leaving her a blue one that is quite holey...no, not holy, hole-y - as in missing a bunch of chunks. She was upset because she had taken the time to clean it. It wasn't really fair that Davidi took it, given that she'd cleaned it and that she'd be gone three nights when he needed it only for one...plus, well, gallant he wasn't.

But it wasn't worth arguing - I wanted them both to go off happy and so I asked Elie if he could help me by buying her a new one (all of 35 NIS - $10). I gave him my car and on his way to school, he stopped and picked up a mat - a purple one, and Aliza was thrilled. He got these extra straps too, so again, she left so happy!

This morning's call was about listening. She was full of things she HAD to tell me after almost 24 hours of not seeing her (and only about 4 calls) and so, I opened a Word file and began typing as she spoke. I love to listen to her and sometimes I just love to write out what they tell me. They hate it...she wouldn't be so happy if she knew...but I still trust that for the most part, the sum total of my immediate family audience is Amira and Lauren. And I'm trusting them to laugh and not tell Aliza.

"And my hair is puffing up and I don't know what to do."

And she told me all about the bathrooms - first - the shower was an enclosed area - with no ceiling. It was, she told me, "the fastest shower I ever had in my life and it was cold."

I told her about how when Elie was in the war, they had to shower outside...in the winter, "wow," she said, "misken." Misken translates as pathetic one, or that poor guy.

I heard about the food - not nearly as bad as she expected; and how she slept - not bad (from 2:00 to 6:15, on and off).

Mostly, I'm left with this wonderful feeling that these are the times she will remember all her life - sleeping in a forest way up north in the cool evenings of a hot summer, surrounded by her friends...here in the land that is hers.

It doesn't honestly get much better than this...

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