Wow, what a title - how can you live up to a title like that?
I guess I'll start with a disclaimer - nothing I write here means I am negating all the other lessons we want to teach our children. Always, they should learn the value of kindness, of faith, of responsibility. All the days of their lives, they should know that who they are makes them part of a greater whole. Where they live was not an accident but part of destiny...theirs, and the Jewish people as a whole.
Way heavier than I wanted to get into but good to get that out front. So beyond all the heaviness in life, we are going camping tonight. I love camping and more, I love the memories my children carry with them. Before he flew to America to be with his in-laws, Elie and I talked. He's been amazing over the last few days, calling often and sending pictures of the baby. I've gone from seeing her almost daily and having her all to myself at least once or twice a week, to not seeing her at all for almost a week now.
How can I begrudge Lauren's mother this precious time...and I don't, not at all, but I'm missing her...them...a lot and Elie's calls are helping. Before the holiday (Passover/Pesach), I told him about the progress that I had made. The night before the seder, I had already cooked three trays of chicken, two trays of vegetables and made two different salads.
Elie told me that he remembers me always doing that - how we would sit down to a Passover meal the night before the holiday had even begun. I love that he remembers it that way because I remember more the frantic last minute cleaning and the agonizing long night that left me exhausted by the time we came to the seder table. I like his memory better.
Years ago, we were all up north camping and we heard a news report that said there was to be a meteor shower that night over the skies of Israel. We couldn't have planned it better. So we dragged mattresses and sleeping bags outside of the tent and all prepared to watch nature's show. And that's when some of the kids remembered our doing something similar - pulling mattresses out on our balcony to watch another meteor shower years before.
I want them to remember these times - to someday pull mattresses out on their balconies for their children and tell them how they remember doing that when they were little. So, last week I called around in the north to see where we could go camping for two nights. Too late to have done this, as expected, most camping sites were full and so I got this idea.
First I told Aliza and Davidi, then I told Amira. We're going camping in a place that offers all the comforts of home - bathroom, showers, electricity, mattresses, even free WiFi. Yup...our backyard. We are blessed with a really big tiled area. We're going to put down rugs and pillows, set up tents, have a barbecue and music, and sleep outside. And, if we are really lucky, Amira's almost-three year old son will remember this night well into the future.
So the lessons for our children that I started with...so many...first, the comforts of home...they can be found inside of you and you can take them anywhere, everywhere. To the north, to the south, even just outside to the backyard.
Second, you can make fun, have fun anywhere, everywhere - take it with you, enjoy life. I want my children to be happy, healthy, smart, kind....and more, I want them to build memories, to have fun.
So, tonight we are going camping - outside below the moon and the stars. We'll barbecue and Haim will play the guitar and our grandson will run around and wonder why we are sleeping outside when our beds are so close. But well into the future, I can only hope that my children will take their children outside to sleep under the stars, and their children and theirs.
When I was 16 years old, I came to Israel for the first time. At night, I looked up and saw thousands and thousands of stars in the dark Israeli sky. It was the first time I understood God's promise to make the Jews as numerous as the stars in the heavens. I found three stars and watched them each night. They were mine, I decided.
A few weeks later, amazed to see them in the US skies, I pointed them out to a friend, "you mean Orion's belt?"
Yes, totally embarrassed that someone else had claimed my stars first, I decided it didn't matter. It might be Orion's belt, but it was my sign, my connection that under the same stars lies the land of my heart. It took me another 16 years or so to get here and in the 20 years since, I often look up at the three stars and smile.
So, tonight we are going camping - outside below the moon and my stars.
May God bless the land and stars of Israel, and my children (Amira, Haim, David and Aliza and YD) who will sleep below them; and my children (Elie and Lauren, Shmulik and Naama, and MG) who won't.