Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Amazing Role Models

In the last few weeks, we have been privileged to be at some amazing events. I find our friends are constantly teaching us about parenting, about friendship and about strength. These few weeks have really been an example of that.

Two years ago, as I've written many times, a four year old boy in the yishuv died in an accident at his house. He was very good friends with our son and there is a beautiful park in the yishuv in his memory. So, they had a baby last month. It has been amazing watching them bring another child into the world after such a tragedy and seeing how they've dealt with it. They had a Simchat Bat last Friday, an event for a girl to celebrate her birth. It was in their backyard on a beautiful day. They had put up a large tarp to create shade and had a beautiful food display. It felt like a breath of fresh air - a chance to celebrate with them in a house that has experienced such a tragedy. The father spoke beautifully about turning pain into joy and about the name they gave the baby which roughly translates to mean "a song of praise to Gd".

We are all given choices in life. Some of us have to deal with larger issues than others - but we all choose how to deal with them. It has been truly amazing to see this family rise from their shiva to create a park and a Shabbat children's program in memory of their son, and then to watch them have enough faith to try again - and to praise Gd with the name they've chosen for their beautiful little girl. May they know only joy from her.

We also just experienced our friends' daughter's bat mitzvah. They had close to 50 family members in from the States for the event and it was amazing to watch them all interact. The bat mitzvah itself was lovely - but it wasn't the thing that struck me, per se. The mother cooked Friday night dinner, Shabbat lunch, a huge kiddush for the entire community, and Seudat Shleesheet for over 50 people. And she did it all with such happiness and gratitude. Many people would be very stressed and overwhelmed with this task - and she was stressed, of course. But, there was so much love in their family all weekend and such an overwhelming appreciation for family. All of these people came from the States - not one person in their family lives here. And while it's expected that the parents will be here for an event of this sort, it's not always assumed that siblings will have the time, money or interest to come. And yet, all 8 siblings (3 on one side and 5 on the other) picked up with their families and came here to be with them for the bat mitzvah. This family also happens to have experienced the tragic loss of a child a number of years ago, and this milestone must have been mixed with a certain amount of sadness and longing for them. And yet, they showed so much joy and strength the entire weekend - it was truly beautiful to see.

We have amazing role models in our lives who keep us grounded and help us to keep our focus. That's really one of the most amazing things we've found here in Israel. We hope to have half the strength that we see in some of our friends!

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