The fact that we haven’t written much on the blog recently is simply a sign of the deep denial we are experiencing. We leave in seven days – next Thursday night, June 21, we will make our way to the airport, and eventually board our 12:30 am flight back to Boston.
This past week has been marked by the beginnings of our “misibot predah” – our going away parties. Last Friday we had dinner at “the residence” with Danny Shapiro, Julie Fisher, Liat, Merav and Shira as well as Uri, Meryl, Meitav, Shira and Adi Feinberg. It was the way a Shabbat dinner should be, fantastic company, yummy food, and full wait service. What incredible fortune to share this year with the Fisher Shapiro’s first year as the American Ambassadors to Israel.
On Sunday we hosted Gila’s class from gan, 30 kids and their parents were invited, along with several classmates of Ela’s. The beautiful garden in our backyard was filled with pre-schoolers, second graders and assorted siblings and their parents. Nomi was adored by all and spent most of her time being carried or painted by one group or another.
At one point I witnessed Gila turn to Ela – they were both flushed and a bit overwhelmed. Ela gave Gila a reassuring hug and I felt a rush of pride and love for these strong, resilient girls. The party was lovely – we served TONS of food fresh from the shuk in Ramla, featuring humus and salads from Samir’s, of course.
Each family asked “when are you going” and “how long are you going for? when are you coming back?” Answering is always difficult, we feel the need to explain that, like many, our hearts are split. That home is here in Israel, and in the States where our family, friends and work are. They commented on the challenge of the transitions for the girls and they asked that we stay in touch. In only 10 months our family was warmly greeted, engulfed really, into the Yozma community. Rabbis Kinneret Shiryon and Nir Barkin also stopped by.
Yesterday, during the Thursday morning tefilah (prayer service and Torah reading) at Ela’s second grade class, the focus was on her. This was her own “misibat predah.” She was presented with a book of blessings, written by each of her classmates, and during the Amidah, the central part of the prayer service, each student and teacher offered her another, personal blessing. They ranged from “good health,” and “fun in your new home” to “good food on your flight” and “hope you get t
o sit by the window on your flight” (lots of concern about the flight).
I asked Ela how it felt to receive all of those blessings:
I felt happy but also sad because I liked the beautiful cards, but also sad that I was leaving. I felt that I knew that the kids were actually worrying about my flight, because they kept saying things like “be happy and have a good trip,” or “fly in peace.”
With one week left I feel sad and happy because I am leaving friends and I am going to see my old friends. I am wearing a new necklace that says “Ela” in Hebrew from my friends Shira and Shahar.
Mostly I am going to miss, well everything, like my friends, and the delicious foods (like felafel and pita and humus and mango popcicles and Choco-bo, and rugelah, and malawach and milky, and to top it off – Crembo) and all the friends that I have in Israel.
This morning was Gila’s event, linked with Kabbalat Shabbat at her gan. This one really got me, I knew it would. Her gan is a magical place, “maksim m’od.” The children sat in a circle, Gila and her dearest friend Adi ha bat (Adi the Girl) sat next to Adi haganenet (Adi the preschool teacher) and HaRav Kinneret. Gila helped hand out kippot, she lit the candles, she collected tzedakah – all of the prized jobs on Friday mornings. Adi led them in songs, some for Shabbat, some for Gila – blessings really – including the prayer for a safe journey – tfillat ha derech. Then they presented her with a beautiful book, decorated by Orna, another teacher in her gan who is also a talented artist. Each page has a picture of either a teacher or a student, beautifully set in a collage, with an envelope holding a note with a drawing and a message and a kiss print. Gila very carefully opened the book and while the group sang, she took out each card, made eye contact with each person, smiled and slid the card back into the book. She was conscientious and so intentional. I wept.
On Sunday Bradley will present his final project at the Melton Center in the morning and then we will host the families from Nomi’s gan mishpachton, her family daycare for dinner. Later that evening I will be in Jerusalem for a personal gathering with the women with whom I have been planning a Jerusalem mikveh over the past 10 months.
This Shabbat we will linger with Miri Gold and David Leichman at Kibbutz Gezer – avoiding goodbye as long as possible.
The girls have elected to attend their schools up until the last moment – that feels like a huge sign of success. It gives us more time to reflect, organize, pack, mourn, and prepare myself, as best we can, for the next leg on our journey.