When we were contemplating Aliyah on and off over the years, one thing that was always part of the discussion was having our kids grow up in Israel. The country is an amazing place to grow up, a veritable Gan Eden (Garden of Eden) for kids. In our first weeks of Aliyah our kids sampled the best of Israeli junk food in ecstasy. It was the first time that they could ask for things and we didn't have to say 'sorry, sweet heart, it's not kosher', so we were very liberal in allowing junk food for the first little bit in Israel. After a few days, our oldest said, 'You know HaShem must really want people to live in Israel...because He made great junk food for the kids to have!' I'm not so sure that is the reason for the amazing array of popsicles, ice creams, lollipops and other assorted candies, but it certainly gives a nice glimpse into the 'minds of babes'.
As the months have passed and turned into years, our decision as it pertains to our kids has only been been strengthened. Our oldest, Matan, now in first grade, is working his way through Sefer Breishit (Genesis) in school. Of course the early stages of Breishit focus largely on the stories and exploits of the Patriarchs & Matriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak,Yaakov, Sarah, Rivka, Leah and Rachel. Living along Derech Avot (the Path of our Fathers) offers many opportunities to enhance the learning that is done in school. One night, Matan was reading about Avraham and Yitzchak's journey to Har HaMoriah where the parsha tells about Avraham seeing 'the place from afar' referring to Har HaMoriah. There are those who argue that they first saw their destination from the high point in Neve Daniel (being the highest point in the area, there is some logic to this thought). So, without further ado we put down Matan's Chumash and went for a brief, spontaneous trip to the top of the yishuv where we could look out at the distant lights and envision ourselves as Avraham and Yitzchak, where again Matan read the appropriate lines from the Chumash.
A couple of weeks later brought us to Parsha Chayei Sarah, which has become a traditional Shabbat for people to spend in Hevron praying in the Maarat HaMachpela (the Tomb of the Patriarchs). As a treat for finishing the Parsha, Matan and I set off for Hevron on the Friday morning of Chayei Sarah with a group of guys from Neve Daniel. What a way to bring Matan's learning to life!!
This week, on our trip to the Negev, we took the opportunity to bring the Torah to life again by visiting Avraham's Well in the southern part of Beer Sheva. Again, Matan and Yehuda's minds were brought to new heights as they intelligently discussed the life of Avraham, the ancient history of the area and the significance of wells (and how to dig them).
They could certainly be learning the same information in school in America, but they would be learning it in a foreign language (English) and they wouldn't be able to walk out their back door to experience the land of their Forefathers.
Once again, we are left saying...only in Israel!
Chanukah Greetings from our Holy Home!