Well, it finally happened. After 17 weeks of never missing a Friday/pre-Shabbat post, even on the Friday when I was in Prague, I dropped the ball. This, I suppose, is what happens when you spend nearly every waking moment for a week with your parents. They left yesterday and I didn’t manage to get a post done afterwards. So, here we are, on week 18, a little delayed in terms of time but more than a little buoyed by marvelous time with family.
The number 18 in Judaism carries special significance. In Hebrew, it’s written as יח, which read backwards is “chai” (pronounced like “hi” with a hard “H,” not a delicious cup of tea), which means “life.” You may remember a certain Anatevkan in a certain musical singing all about “l’chaim.”
It’s fitting that week 18 is now, because this is the only week of my time in Israel spent almost entirely with the two people who gave me life. No, I did not plan it this way, but sometimes beautiful things just happen and timing is serendipitous and that’s how it goes. As was the case last week, this week the blessing feels more or less innate. I spent this week completely surrounded by family, enjoying some of Jerusalem’s sights and even getting to spend a day in Petra (I look forward to a longer trip sometime this spring). So, in honor of week 18, here are 18 pictures from life in the last week. You can see these and many more here. Shavua tov. Thanks for sailing with me.
1) My mom (Judy) with her street near the shuk. (My dad is pointing to her just to clear up any confusion about whose street it is.)
2) Stilt walkers hanging out on Ben Yehuda street for a Hanukkah festival
3) Latke brunch in Jerusalem with my parents and also my aunt, uncle, and cousins– who were on a family trip to Israel last week!
4) A menorah atop a car is a common enough sight during Hanukkah. A menorah atop a prius? Not so much.
5) The brightest night of Hanukkah. These outdoor glass oil lamps were everywhere in Jerusalem, and the first night after Hanukkah ended was so sad because all of the light was suddenly out!
6) A selfie with my dad (I am a millennial, after all) on the ramparts in the Old City
7) The Christian Quarter as viewed from the ramparts.
8) My parents and uncle (my aunt and cousin and I are on the other side of the booth) welcoming 2017 in a neighborhood (Jerusalem) bar.
9) My first look at the Old City walls in 2017. Those “God Rays” are something else, huh?
10) Dome of the Rock, up close and personal and (mostly) free of tourists so early in the day
11) My parents and I snuck up on my sisters in the shuk. They were with their Birthright group and didn’t know that we were hoping to find them that afternoon (nor did we know that we’d actually be able to find them in as large and confusing a place as the shuk!). The five of us hadn’t been together as a family since September when I left for Israel and my baby sister left for Nicaragua.
12) A pillar from the ancient Roman city of Jerash, about an hour from Amman (Jordan). The city boasts some of the best preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy.
13) A view of my parents (and other tourists) from the top of Jerash’s amphitheater.
14) Desert views from Jordan
15) My parents and me (and other tourists and merchants and camels, y’know, because why not) in front of Petra’s inaptly-named “Treasury.”
16) My mom engaging in the Israeli practice of “hefker”-ing her old cold-weather boots, which aren’t necessary in California, in my neighborhood. When she told me that she planned to throw them away after the trip, I explained the practice here of leaving shoes and other usable items next to garbage bins for anybody who wants them. She was glad to take part.
17) The chapel of the “Monastery of the Cross,” a 5th-century Byzantine construction just below Israel’s knesset (parliament) and the Israel Museum.
18) My parents and me (hiding behind the camera) enjoying shakshuka as only T’mol Shilshom can make it.