Monday, July 2, 2012

Winding Down

Going out for ice cream...yum!
It's been a while since we've updated the blog and we've covered a lot of ground. In a very brief nutshell, here are some of the highlights of the past weeks: healing from broken and sprained bones (everyone is now cast and pain free – yeah!), being guests at a Masorti congregation in Beersheva for Shabbat, getting together with Alexander’s family in celebration of his parents’ 50th anniversary (mazal tov Reena and Stuart!), shopping (including looking for tallit and tefillin for Yonah), and continuing to work through our extensive list of kosher restaurants to try (most recently a Thai noodle restaurant). 

We have only a week left of our sabbatical; but we have weeks’ worth of things we still want to do! It's amazing, even with all the time we've had, we still feel like there is so much we have not seen.

School finally ended for the kids last Friday after a full week of parties and movies.  I think the dentists do very well over the summer after all the junk consumed during end of year parties!  Seriously, we were very fortunate that overall the kids had good experiences in school.  When we brought them to school for their first day back in April, we basically told the kids to figure it all out…in a different language.  And they did!  Yonah came away with a buddy that he is looking forward to keeping in touch with.  Koby had several play dates and is now excited to read a Hebrew book with me.  Micah has picked up several phrases in Hebrew that he repeats often, and has memorized the tunes and prayers recited daily – all in a cute accent.  Amichai had fun at his Gan and has taught the bigger kids some songs he learned.  All of them feel more comfortable in Hebrew. It’s not that there weren’t hard days; but generally days ended with a smile.  

Esther and boys picking tomatoes with Leket
With school out, we spent at day the Israel Museum. 1½ hours in the archeology wing only scratched the surface; but it was a great way to review many of the sites we've seen.  A tour of the Knesset brought us to more recent history.  Today, we picked bushels of tomatoes under a hot sun with Leket (an organization that works in partnership with farms to pick fresh, in-season produce and distribute food to the needy).  The kids were great sports and we hope they feel that they've both taken from and given to Israel during these months. We toured Chaim Weizmann's house (he was the first President of Israel and an accomplished scientist) and the science garden at the Weizmann Institute provided fun, hands-on activities for kids and parents alike. 

In the past few days, we've been excited to welcome two new additions to the family.  Limor and Aaron (Esther's brother) had a baby girl and we are enjoying spending time with them.  Esther’s other brother, Ira, and his wife, Max, had a boy in The Netherlands.  Mazal tov to both!

Cooling off in the spring at Ein Prat
On the last day of school (after yet another day of cookies and films), we took the kids for a short tiyul to a place called Ein Prat.  It is just northeast of Jerusalem -- about 10 minutes (for those of you who don’t get lost like us) from Pisgat Ze'ev.  (Some of you may know Ein Prat from the singing group, The Fountainheads who hail from there.) Even in the scorching summer heat, the stream continues to flow.  The park was filled with Jewish and Arab picnickers, hikers, rock climbers and those who simply wanted to cool off.  We had a picnic ("Ughh…more sandwiches!") under the shady Eucalyptus trees and among the bees.  After a bit of coaxing (the kids were crashing from sugar withdrawal and exhaustion), we set off on a short hike.  We walked past a 4th century monastery to the source of the spring.  Leave it to Koby and Ami to fall in!  We then hiked downhill to a wonderful natural pool and jumped right in.  How refreshing!  This oasis in the Judean desert was not only a wonderful way to prepare for Shabbat, but upon reflection, it also feels like the perfect way to begin to bring this sabbatical to a close.

Micah takes a leap of faith!
Like Ein Prat, this shabbaton has indeed been a wonderful way to feel refreshed and rejuvenated.  As we discovered in the hills of the Judean desert and as we read in last week's parasha, there is water right beneath the surface.  Sometimes though, it is hard to see or at least difficult to extract.  In the Torah, when Miriam dies and the water dries up, the Israelites sing that a well might rise up and accompany them on their journey.  As we prepare to return to Minneapolis, this is my hope as well.  May the waters of Torah that have quenched my thirst here in Jerusalem return with us, that they continue to refresh and nourish me and my family and that together as a community, we learn to uncover the life-giving waters flowing just beneath the surface of our lives.

There is much we haven’t covered in this blog – the political situation, the social protests, the status of Conservative Judaism (this is one I hope to return to) and on and on.  But we've enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on a few of our experiences.  Thanks for taking time to read. We look forward to sharing more with you when we get back.  Anyone want to see our pictures?  We only have a few hundred slides to show you!

See you all soon.