As we inherited a timeshare in the center of Jerusalem from my parents, during the summer, we try to take advantage of the opportunity afforded to us and spend Shabbos there. So, last week our daughter kindly dropped us off at the hotel and waved goodbye. She was happy to have the car to herself for a few days, and we were happy not to have to spend our entire vacation looking for parking. Win-win.

 This month, we celebrate the twenty-third anniversary of our aliyah.  I’ve written many articles on these pages depicting life here because I want you to truly understand what a terrific place Israel is to live in.  As I reflect about how lucky I am to live here with my family, so many thoughts come to mind. I love that the country is in sync with the Jewish calendar.  On Erev Shabbos and Erev Yom Tov, the destination signs on buses display the words “Shabbat Shalom” and “Chag Sameach.”  During the time of the Siyum HaShas, some buses even displayed the words “Talmud Bavli.” Candle-lighting time of Shabbos is announced on the radio every Friday. At the end of the summer, the bill from the electric company reads, “Shanah Tovah.”  For better and for worse, the whole country enters holiday mode during the weeks leading up to Rosh HaShanah, and many projects are put on hold until “Acharei Hachagim,” after the holiday season.  Seasonal displays in supermarkets and stores heavily reflect the Jewish calendar.  Whether it’s Sukkah decorations in the month of Tishrei, Chanukah menorahs, oil, and candles in Kislev, a cornucopia of fruit in Shvat, shaloch manos paraphernalia in Adar, household cleaning products in Nisan, or barbecue supplies in Iyar, one is greeted with a prominent display of all that one needs for the upcoming chag upon stepping foot into the supermarket.  A shopping list is unnecessary.

In appreciation for the beautiful sheva brachot my neighbors organized for our son and daughter-in-law, my husband and I decided to buy them a plant. We knew that while she made it look effortless, Dina* worked very hard to make sure everything was just perfect, so we wanted to get her the perfect gift.  We went to the nursery and strolled around until we found just the right plant, green and leafy with a burst of color.  Then we picked out a flower pot that would match the décor of their well-tended garden.

My family recently spent a long weekend in Avnei Eitan, the southernmost religious settlement in the Golan Heights, east of the Kinneret.  Avnei Eitan has a very rustic and peaceful feel, especially noticeable in our somewhat isolated tzimmer (small house or bungalow) overlooking the beautiful fields. Despite the heat, the air was fresh, the skies were clear, and I didn’t mind at all being woken up to the cackling of roosters and chickens walking through the garden. On Friday night, those of us who went to shul davened in a tented outdoor minyan, a remnant of the earlier corona restrictions. My children recognized the man who gave an eloquent d’var Torah in between Kabbalas Shabbos and Maariv from a video they had watched as young children about life in Gush Katif.  In August 2005, the 8,600 residents of Gush Katif were forcefully removed from their homes, their communities demolished, as part of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. When I told the man how much my kids had enjoyed his video, he told me that although he had traveled to Gush Katif to film the video, he had never actually lived there.  In 1982, he had moved to Avnei Eitan from Yamit, an Israeli settlement in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, which had been sadly given over to Egypt at that time.  It seems that settlement ideology flows through his veins.    

 It was a sunny summer’s day in Miami Beach, back in the ‘70s, when my husband and his good friend, Chaim*, were hanging out at my husband’s home.  As my mother-in-law was a very talented cook and could have taught Martha Stewart a thing or two, Chaim was looking forward to a hot and tasty dinner.  But it was Mincha time, so the boys figured they would daven first and then come back and enjoy a savory meal. My husband knew that those days, the Ribnitzer Rebbe had been davening down the street and was having some difficulty making a minyan

I often get calls from friends and relatives from the old country asking me to daven on their behalf at the Kotel, Kever Rachel, or any other holy place.  Recently, after receiving such a request, my husband and I set out for Yerushalayim.  On the way, instead of going to our usual destinations, we decided to go to the kever of Shmuel HaNavi, located immediately past the Ramot neighborhood of Yerushalayim.  I believe the last time I was at this kever was when I visited Israel with my family as a child.  It has obviously undergone some major changes since then.