Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It Takes an International Village

Josh arrived home from his last work trip to the States with a few goodies for each kid. For Yakir, he secured an adorable squishy El Al plane toy. It was one of the promotional pieces that El Al had on display at the Nefesh B’Nefesh fair that Josh coordinated and at the end of the night the woman staffing the table invited the Nefesh staff to take things home to their kids. 

Here is what the plane looked like...
Yakir loved it and started sleeping with it. Within a few days, however, the wings had fallen off (maybe they weren’t made for sleeping with? perhaps?).

Yakir was inconsolable. The tears started to flow and his mouth opened into a full throttle scream. Josh promised that he would see what he could do, and he immediately emailed the colleagues that he had at El Al.

“Oh no!” they replied. “This is a full-out crisis. We will see what we can do.”

The answer came back that the planes were apparently gone. The stock was finished. But she (jokingly?) promised to steal one off of her co-worker’s desk when she wasn’t looking and to see what else she could send along.

And today, a package arrived for Yakir. Well, to be accurate, the package actually made Aliyah on the Nefesh B’Nefesh group flight that landed today.

And the package is definitely going to make one little boy happy.

Here was today's delivery!

And it did.

One happy boy with his gifts!

Thanks El Al! You certainly got this one right!

And sometimes it does take an international village to please one little guy.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

A Family Fun Race and an Appreciation of Life

Almost a decade and a half ago, our friend and neighbor, Yonatan Segal, started a race through the Gush Etzion Matnas in memory of his father. It has turned into quite a large happening and has, in different years, included a bike race, a swim race, a swim/run race, a 5k, 10k, 21k and a family 2k. This year, rather than having two events (one in Efrat and one in the Gush) these groups joined forces and created one large, amazing event.

Since I clued into this happening a number of years ago, I've made sure to sign the kids up and to enjoy it with them. This year, Yehuda ran his first 10k and Eliav ran his first 5k. Their feelings of accomplishment and pride were evident in the pictures.

Yehuda as he finishes the 10k!

Eliav finishing the 5K!
And the rest of the kids ran a 2k that was packed to the bursting point with families out for a great time together.

Some of the guys getting ready

Even Yakir got in on the action with Josh.

I couldn't help but think about a community member as we ran and enjoyed. Rafi Novick has been a friend since soon after we landed in Israel. He was a talented and energetic appliance repair person and someone you could always - always - rely on. On Thursday, this man not much older than I am, passed away quite suddenly, leaving behind a wife and young son.

His loss left us all stunned. In the grocery store, I found myself listening to friends saying, "But he was just in my house last week." And, "We were just discussing the bikes he's been repairing."

No one was able to believe that he had been taken from us so suddenly - so young. And I wondered, as my family ran and had a great day, if perhaps he and his son had planned to take part in the race. If there was a shirt draped over a chair in their house that would go unused, that would be in the way during Shiva.

I have many fond memories of Rafi. In a small area like the one in which we live, our repair people of all sorts are typically community members. We build a trusting relationship over time. My favorite memory of Rafi was the time that he asked me all about my Honda as he repaired my dishwasher. He had a lot to say about my Honda, a Honda he had owned, how best to maintain it, etc.

And then a few days later I received a call. "Romi," the caller said with a sense of urgency. "Are you at the car store in Talpiot right now?"

I had no idea what he was talking about. "Um," I said chuckling. "No, Rafi, I'm at home."

"Oh good," he said with such a sense of relief." Because I saw your make and model car go into a store just now in Talpiot and it's not the best store. So I wanted to recommend somewhere else to you instead."

That was Rafi.

...and that, truly, is our lives. 

That's life in Gush Etzion with our repair people, with our neighbors, with our store owners. And with our fellow runners.

It was a beautiful, thrilling day on Friday and I loved watching the sheer joy and energy of everyone around me. We've been through a lot in the Gush lately, and this was a wonderful opportunity to get out and run and enjoy and be together. 

If only there had been one more person among us that day.