Those of you following our family's blogs won't need me to list out day by day the activities we did with Temple Beth Abraham from June 21 through July 1. You can read their day to day accounts here, here, and here. You can sample some congregants' perspectives here and here. Shout out to Keshet, our tour provider, for excellent planning and adaptation to our needs, as well as superb staff.
My unique additions to this discussion are few. I can only offer my perspective on some special moments. The first day, greeting everyone, I had such joy in my heart. I loved giving and getting hugs from friends of all ages. It was especially wonderful to see the Bessler/Baums from China, the Jurow/Klein three generations and the Bessler/Baum three generations. Sad events like Larry Reback not being able to come due to ankle surgery, my sister-in-law Jennifer and her family not being able to come because of Mitch's back surgery, Deborah's luggage getting lost in Las Vegas, Jonah and I leaving his crocs on the bus at the Dead Sea, feeling the burn at the Dead Sea,
and other lowlights stand out in my mind. However, there were also lots of highlights:
Jerusalem highlights: Walking from our apartment to the King Solomon Hotel. Wine, snacks, and schmoozing on our 11th floor balcony at the hotel. Havdallah on the same balcony.
Tunnel tour at the wall, Hezekiah's tunnel with water. Learning from our amazing guides Yishai and Merav at every stop. Old City scavenger hunt finds like the door on the yeshiva. Telling everyone about the amazing gooey chocolate rugelach at Marzipan (best in the world!). Marved Haksamim (Magic Carpet) - possibly Casey's favorite restaurant in Jerusalem. Trading Jonah to the Mendelsohns for Julia during out time at Machane Yehuda "the shuk."
Galilee Highlights: Creating, tasting, drinking, and buying chocolate at de Karina in the Golan Heights. Wine tasting at Dalton. (The wines weren't so good but it was still fun!) Watching the kids swim and play soccer at Kibbutz Gonen. Meeting soldiers at Kibbutz Malkiya and an armored corps in the Golan. Shopping for shoes at Neot. Poker night organized by Barry Barnes and won by Hugo and Noam with Jason breaking even by taking third.
The three youth counselors, Ilana, Noam, and Tehilla. The counselors yelling "all kids over here" so that the adults and kids were doing separate activities. Each and every bus ride sitting and talking with friends like Denise, Barbara, Freya, etc. The echo mountain at Masada "Never Again" in both Hebrew and English. The bomb shelters, borders, soldiers with guns, checkpoints, fences, walls, and yet beautiful vistas at every turn. Kids eating ice cream popsicles whenever they can. Jonah's favorite is the Magnum Gold. Both Micah and Jonah also like the watermelon shaped and flavored popsicle.
Shopping at Old Yaffo. If it were not so hot, this would have been even more enjoyable. Since our last visit there as a family, I had regretted not purchasing a Shabbat skirt in the shuk. I made up for it by purchasing two! :-) Micah got some jewelry both here and in Tzfat, and he also got a new T-shirt "Shabbat Just Do It" with the Nike logo. Jonah ate hot dogs with Ben and Abe Barnes while I got the cheap and yummy falafel on the side street. Merav gave us a splendid tour of parts of Yaffo and we walked along the waterfront. Lovely.
Listening to Yishai tell the story of David and Saul in Ein Gedi under the waterfall.
We were SO hot on our very short hike to the two waterfalls. First a mini-waterfall, then further up a larger one. The water was so cool and refreshing. Lots of kids and adults were relaxing in the water, letting the strong waterfall pound on our bodies to cool us down, and simply having fun in nature. A memory I will treasure.
Living here is a treat. Sharing so many wonderful memories with wonderful friends is icing on the cake. Our evaluation and closure session brought tears for both me and Mark - both happy and sad tears. 5 more weeks or so and we'll be home in Oakland.