Monday, April 29, 2013
I've been thrilled this year to see just how much Yehuda is learning these lessons. I don't know if his coach and his team are unique, but I would certainly love to see their style replicated the world over. Recently, they were playing a team that wasn't very good. The score was already something like 15 to 4 in the first quarter. Yehuda's coach gathered the kids together and told them that they weren't allowed to steal the ball for the rest of the game, and they weren't allowed to play aggressively. Yes, they could continue to try to win, but they shouldn't do so in a way that would embarrass the other team.
Then, last week, I was driving the basketball carpool home and asking the kids how the game went. Yehuda was telling me about the baskets that he made, and I asked the other kid if he had also made baskets.
"No," he said. And then he was quiet.
When he got out of the car, Yehuda explained to me that he was the only kid on the team who hadn't yet made a basket. Score one foot-in-mouth for this mother.
However, the kids had, apparently, created a system at the beginning of the year whereby they wanted to ensure that every kid on the team got at least one basket during a game. They made sure to pass to the kids that hadn't yet made baskets to try to help them to do so.
I assumed that the coach was involved in this idea. But it turned out that he wasn't - this was something that the kids, as a team, had taken on entirely by themselves.
During the last game, the child who hadn't gotten a basket all year finally got one. The kids exploded with cheers, high-fives and excitement as if they had just won the lottery. And the scorer beamed from ear to ear.
Yehuda may not remember the dribbling techniques that the coach teaches him. He probably won't end up on an athletic scholarship anywhere as a result of this team.
He will, however, remember how to show dignity to others who are struggling.
And he will remember how to be a team member, and how helping another to rise up really helps us all to do so.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
|Close friends Ruth and Chaim (not pictured) Sherman joined in the fun with their kids.|
|Yonatan Sherman organized team building activities as he led the trip.|
|Even Grandpa and Uncle Don (in the background) hiked along.|
|Good friends Dean (not pictured) and Devorah joined us from Silver Spring!|
(Video below is in Hebrew. Message me if you'd like an English translation. But I think it's worth watching just 30 seconds or so to get the feel for the video. Thank you amazing video editor!)
|Party time for Romi and Stella|
|My mom with Matan, me and Yehuda|
|All photography by Kinamon Ron - highly recommended!|
|Josh's parents with the kids|
|My dad and brother with the kids|
|Uncle Don, Aunt Marilyn, cousins Rachel and Andy|
“Shabbat.” Matan said. “Mommy, I think that was the best Shabbat of my entire life.”
Sunday, April 07, 2013
Thursday, April 04, 2013
This Pesach, since the calendar is so incredibly early, we realized that the North might still be quite cold at the end of March. As a result, we decided to go South and camp in Mitzpe Ramon. Except for a few trips to Eilat, we haven't really been South with the kids or explored the Negev at all.
The main attraction in this area, located in the Negev desert, is the stunningly amazing Maktesh (Ramon Crater). The crater isn’t actually a crater created from a meteor, but a vast area created by receding ocean waters, climatic forces, river changes and more.
Our kids had never been to the Maktesh, and it’s definitely somewhere that every Israeli child (and those visiting!) should experience and enjoy. At the visitor’s center there are three videos about the creation of the Maktesh, the many animals and life forms that live in the Maktesh and the life of Ilan Ramon (no idea what the relationship was – but the kids loved the video). They also have a very interested demonstration of how the Maktesh was created with 3-D visual assistance.
There are oodles of National Park volunteers around who can offer suggestions for the best hikes through the Maktesh – and we discovered that there are even campgrounds inside the crater itself (note to self for next trip..). We ended up taking a three hour hike through the crater. It was absolutely beautiful, allowed for rock climbing and cave exploration without too much physical effort and afforded all of the kids a great way to explore a new surrounding.
We camped in Mitzpe Ramon for two nights and the kids delighted in creating the campfire and the cooking fire, setting up the tents, nestling together in their six person tent and wrestling in the great outdoors.
I am continually amazed by just how much there is to do and see in this little country of ours. A two hour drive in almost any direction introduces our children to something new and exciting, and affords them the opportunity to walk their land and enjoy.
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
As we got there, the kids remarked that there seemed to be a number of police boats in the area. Then they noticed a few scuba divers. What was going on? We had no idea, but it didn't seem to be infringing upon anyone's fun or anyone's time in the water, and we soon ignored the distant action.
Then, about an hour into our time at the beach, we noticed a huge crowd of fully clothed men from teenagers to elders congregating on the beach. There must have been at least a hundred of them, and by the end of the day I would say there were more like a hundred and fifty. There were five scuba divers who were about to return to the water, Jewish police officers in rescue boats, and Zaka members around. (Zaka is an incredible volunteer organization started by a group of Ultra-Orthodox Jews. They arrive at the scene of bombings and disasters to ensure that every body part is collected for the sanctity of the burial.)
Clearly, someone had drowned and they appeared to be trying to find him. There were two things that were most interesting about this drama.
1. They weren't closing the beach to perform their search and rescue.
2. An entire Bedouin community had come to the shore. They were not needed for the rescue effort, but they milled about and walked up and down the beach for hours.
Finally, I asked a rescue member what was going on and he explained, vaguely, that three people had died there last week and that they were still looking for one of them.
The search continued.
Then, about an hour later, when I took Zeli to the bathroom, I noticed the enormous procession leaving the beach. There were well over a hundred of them, all walking away. And I prayed for them that their community member had been found and that they could move forward from whatever tragedy had occurred.
We played for another hour. Two scuba divers came walking up the beach, and I took the opportunity to ask.
"Did you find him?"
"Yes," they said, and moved on.
We continued the rest of our time at the water, trying to balance explaining to the kids what had happened and enjoying our day.
As we got into our cars, we were surprised to hear that the lead news story of the hour was about Ashkelon and the search and rescue efforts. Apparently, as we learned, last Thursday three brothers (aged 16, 19 and 26) drowned exactly where we were. They had found two, but were still searching for the third. And that day, while we were at the beach, they finally found the oldest brother.
I was moved beyond words by the scene. Here was an entire community that had come to the shore day after day, waiting for the body of their friend/brother/cousin/son/neighbor to be found. They stood by the shore and waited, showing a sense of community and respect for the dead that was profoundly moving.
Similarly, I was moved by the nuanced and complicated inter-workings of our community in Israel. Jewish-Israeli police officers and scuba experts were searching for the body of a Bedouin man while Orthodox volunteers from Zaka stood by to be of assistance as needed.
A day in the life of a complicated, nuanced, incredibly interesting place called Israel.
At the water's edge.