Sunday, July 15, 2012

Playing with Hashem

We were talking about our Aliyah with the kids the other day. Matan and Yehuda were recounting what they remember (not much) and Amichai said that he didn't make Aliyah.

I reminded him that he did, indeed, make Aliyah. "I carried you here, literally," I said to him. "I was pregnant and you were in my tummy!"

That got a good giggle.

Then, Eliav, clearly contemplating for a bit, piped up with, "Amichai was in your tummy then, right? And I was playing with Hashem!"

Friday, July 13, 2012

Our Souls...8 Years Later

It's almost impossible to believe that this:

has turned into this:

We got on the plane eight years ago today. I was filled with so many emotions - when I look back on it it's hard to imagine the strength that it took to do everything. I once said to someone that the challenges I faced emotionally before making Aliyah were far greater than any of the issues that I've had since. It's certainly not easy to leave the stability of a perfectly content life to walk into the unknown. And as anyone who has had to do it knows, it's certainly not easy to leave family.

And yet we came for a vision, for a dream and for a way of life for our children.

It's not often in life that a person is able to take a stand with his physical body.

It's not often that a person is given the opportunity to connect to and honor thousands of years of her people and her history.

This video, celebrating Nefesh B'Nefesh's 10 year mark, shows the amazing things that people are doing in Israel and the ways that Nefesh has paved the way for all of us to live our dream.

And this video shows our Aliyah day. We are here a number of times - me calming a sleeping Yehuda (time 2:05), Josh davening (time 2:47), Matan saying "My Soul" (time 3:05)and me saying "My Soul" (time 3:06)and the best one with us descending the plane at 4:05.

What an amazing gift we've been given; the chance to live in our homeland and to be a part of the history of our people...and their future.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Balancing Act

Yakir is about the huggiest kid I've ever met. I know most kids like to be hugged and loved - but this guy is amazing. He enjoys curling up in my arms and squeezing; he loves to cuddle with me when he drinks his bottle and as he's going to sleep; and he will stop activities that he's doing to come over for a quick fix.

Now, this is not to say that he isn't one of the biggest maniacs that you've ever met.


He's a crazy man.

When he isn't hugging and cuddling, he's jumping off of sofas, diving head-first into a brother who is quietly laying on the ground, and hurling himself out of my arms.

And here in lies my blog post.

Yesterday, Yakir and I were playing a game. He was running around the yard, and then every few minutes he would reappear on my lap to play. Facing me with one leg on either side of my lap, he would bounce, bounce, bounce, pretending that I was a horse bouncing him around.

And then I'd yell, "Cuddle time!" and he's stop what he was doing, wrap his arms around me as tight as he could, and hug.


We kept doing this (over and over and over these kids enjoy repetitive motions) and it got me thinking.

This, really, is such a metaphor for life.

Bounce, bounce, bounce...suck the marrow out of life...enjoy every minute...strive to achieve, to dream, to reach for the stars....

But then, quick! Make room for cuddle, cuddle, cuddle...remember to save some time for cuddling in the midst of the bouncing...take the time out of your bounce for quiet reflection, for that terrific hug from someone you love, for mental space, for balance.

75% bounce and 25% cuddle.

Sometimes less of one and more of another, but it's the balance and the mix that makes for a great ride.

Right Yakir?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A Vision And A Dream

Last night was Neve Daniel's 30th birthday and what a celebration it was. There were bouncy toys for the kids to enjoy, a ropes course for slightly older kids, hot dogs and hamburgers, and many vendors from the yishuv. It was, as most activities are around here, a very heimish, cozy, come-out-and-have-fun-with-your-neighbors type of evening.

And I loved every minute of it.

Thinking about what 30 years means, I realized that we've lived in Neve Daniel for over 25% of its life. It's ironic and telling that I should be reflecting on Neve Daniel's birthday as we approach our 8th anniversary of Aliyah next week and as we think about the Fourth of July tomorrow.

I've got nothing against the 4th of July - nothing at all. It's a great opportunity to have time off from work, to have a barbeque or beach day and to enjoy with family and friends. What it's not, however, for most people is a day that reverberates anymore with the history of the country or with the experience of the Founding Fathers. Hundreds of years later, it's hard to stay connected to these events - quite understandably. One example of this just played out on the political stage this week in Israel. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir died and was buried just this week. As a man who was so instrumental in the State, before its founding and after, his burial would be like watching and being part of Thomas Jefferson or John Adam's demise.

And that's certainly why these events for us are so poignant. I've been part of the yishuv for over 25% of its life. What a baby Neve Daniel is! They talked last night about how the yishuv started with two families who braved the incredible odds to live in two tents at the top of our mountain for months on end.

Now, if you haven't been to Neve Daniel before, you might not know this - but it's hard to endure the winters at times...indoors...with my heat on! I simply cannot imagine what it meant to bring a family to a rugged, barren location with no central road to get here, with no friendly neighbors (a bit of an understatement) and with nothing here. And here they sat with a vision and a dream...

At times when I get frustrated with how things work in the yishuv, or in the country in general, I have to remember just how young she really is. 30 years old. Neve Daniel is younger than I am. How much can I expect from such a young lady? But how much have I already been given from her?

Menachem Fried, one of the founders of the Yishuv, spoke as well. He reflected on those first months as one of the two families who braved the way and came back to the land that we had pined for for thousands of years; the land that we were driven from in '48. And today, standing on the stage, he remarked how beautiful it is to see 450 families together today in our Yishuv.

It's hard to put into words what it means to be part of something. I think one of the great secrets to life is finding a way to be part of something. Whether that means that you join a religious group or center, that you find a sport you love and connect with others there, that you find a hobby, that you build a family, etc. Connections and being part of the whole are a huge part, I believe, of what makes us feel whole.

And being part of a 450 family strong yishuv, and knowing that together we are working towards similar goals and building a future on our land for our doesn't get much better than that.

Eight years ago next week we stepped off the plane with a vision and a dream. And we landed in Neve Daniel.
It’s actually our 16th wedding anniversary today, which means that we’ve spent exactly half of our married life living in Israel.
Since then, we have added four boys to the yishuv and to the country; we've brought some of our closest friends to live by us from the States; and we've built a life that includes a love of Torah learning, of Eretz Yisrael and of each other.

While sitting on the grass with over 800 people last night and listening to the four year old nursery class perform, I was thinking about how truly blessed we are. Celebrating the Yishuv’s birthday, we were sitting behind Stella and Yarden Frankl (who followed us on Aliyah 7 years ago) and sitting in front of Ellen and Amos Levi (who joined us in Neve Daniel 6 years ago); celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary and our 8th anniversary of Aliyah, we were surrounded by our six growing boys and embraced by a growing, vibrant yishuv of people working together to build our country.

May we continue to grow together as a community as we raise our children on their soil and witness the changes that they - and our small little piece of Eretz Yisrael - undergo in the coming years.