09 May 2010

Happy Mother’s Day From the Other Side of the World

 

On a personal note, I think today is the first Mother’s Day I’ve spent without my child.   In fact, I’m sure of it.   I suppose this makes good practice for next year when Elisabeth will be at college and Mother's Day isn’t one of those holidays you come home for.    Still, she is missed, though she left me a  message early this morning at 4:00 am wishing me a happy day.  She certainly sounded happy herself, off with her classmates in a Bedouin tent somewhere in a biblical desert. 

 

lizzyisrael5

Leaving for Poland and Israel:   Elisabeth, first row, far right – face half cut off in the camera. 

 

She left with her senior class for a week in Poland, then three more weeks in Israel.  Elisabeth has only attended two schools – Shlenker, her elementary, and Emery-Weiner, her middle and high school, both are private Jewish day schools.   The graduation class consists of 60 teens, most of whom have been in school together since they were two years old.  Sheltered?   I’m afraid so.   This trip is the culmination of 15 years of daily classes on Judaica, Zionism and Hebrew.   School is over for them now.  Finals are history, as is the senior prom. The graduation ceremony will take place when they return home.   A few in her class will be headed back to Israel for their first year of college.   For a while, that was Elisabeth’s plan, instead she’s chosen to stay in the states.  I wonder if she will regret that decision after this adventure.

 

 

image

After a grueling and very depressing week in Poland spent visiting concentration camps and ancient synagogues, the seniors arrived in Israel.   They first went for a swim in the Dead sea.  Then, before sunrise, they climbed to the top of Masada where they watched the sun come up.   That’s her, smiling, the first blond on the left, at the top of Masada.

 

 

image For their first Sabbath in Israel, the group dressed up (as dressed up as you get in Israel – meaning no ties EVER!) and headed to the Wailing Wall for services. 

 

 

lizzyisrael3 Here, two of her classmates write out their prayers and place them in the cracks of the Wailing Wall, a tradition that most visitors do, regardless of religion. 

 

 

 

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The next day, it was another desert – this time in the south - and a camel ride, along with a feast and sleep inside a Bedouin’s tent.   With Skype and cell phones, the world is a much smaller place than it was when I first visited Israel.  A call home back then, cost a fortune.   We are lucky to talk, almost for free, to Elisabeth every day.  Texting goes on all day long.    She is already hoarse and sounds tired and run down.  I imagine she’ll be sick by the time she gets home in a few more weeks.    The school informed us that a small group already have visited the doctor.   That’s what happens when the schedule is so full, bordering on brutal.   Of course, it’s not all religion and seriousness, she happily told me she had gone shopping for clothes to take to college.  Only Elisabeth would find trendy fashion in the Holy Land.  

If you have never visited Israel, I urge to think about doing so.    What most people don’t realize is Israel is on the coast of the Mediterranean.   It’s a beautiful country, with  its long border a bright blue ocean reflecting the brighter blue sky.  At night, the stars are amazing.     The food is delicious and fresh, with vegetarian or dairy breakfasts and lunches – all cheeses, juicy tomatoes and cucumbers, and wonderful traditional Middle Eastern cuisine at dinner.  Since Israel built the protective fence around their country several years ago, terrorism is almost non existent now.   It’s a vibrant, young country, a world leader in technology, medicine, and agriculture.  It’s an oasis in the desert, a verdant miracle created from the sweat and tears of the generations before.   So, while I miss my daughter terribly today, I’m proud she’s visiting her homeland.   After studying it for so many years, I can’t imagine how it must feel for her to see the bible come to life.

 

image A special poem to Elisabeth, who was, after all, born on the Passover holiday:

 

A Newborn Girl at Passover

by Nan Cohen

Consider one apricot in a basket of them.
It is very much like all the other apricots--
an individual already, skin and seed.

Now think of this day. One you will probably forget.
The next breath you take, a long drink of air.
Holiday or not, it doesn't matter.

A child is born and doesn't know what day it is.
The particular joy in my heart she cannot imagine.
The taste of apricots is in store for her.



 




Wishing all of you, a wonderful and happy Mother’s Day!!!



Joni

63 comments:

  1. What a wonderful, life-changing experience for Elisabeth.

    Where is she going to college? I seem to recall getting out of college in early May, so there is hope that Elisabeth will be with you next year.

    Happy Mothers Day to you !

    - Holly

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  2. Every time i see pictures of Elizabeth, I am stunned by how gracious and beautiful she is. My son just came home from his freshman year in College in LA...my best Mother's day present.
    This is such an incredible worthwhile experience for Elizabeth, memories she will never forget.
    When my older son graduated from high school, i sent him (with his consent) for a gap year in a university in Shanghai. At first, he hated me for it, was scared but to this day (he is now a sophomore) he is so thankful for that experience.
    I just finished a beautiful book about the incredible atrocities done by the French police in Paris to jewish children Sarah"s Keys by Tatiana de Rosnay
    It would be a worthwhile read for Elizabeth and for you too. A part of history that during my french school year was never mentioned.
    Happy Mother's day, Francine

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  3. Wow thank you for sharing. So sweet. Happy Mother's Day to you.

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  4. What a lovely daughter you have Joni and what a beautiful post honoring your relationship with her...got a little teary. This trip will be etched in her heart and mind forever...she is truly blessed to have been able to experience such a special place.

    Happy Mother's Day to you!
    xo Jessica~

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  5. I can feel the love for Elisabeth in your post and how much you miss her. This trip is very special and will become more so to her as time goes by.
    Happy Mother's Day, Joni. As a mother a little ahead of you in the journey, I can tell you that leting go is hard, but many other good things also await you!
    Carol

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  6. Joni,

    I cannot tell you how much I loved reading this post.

    Happy Mother's Day from one Jewish mama to another!

    xoxo,

    Raina
    If the Lamp Shade Fits

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  7. happy mum's day to you too my love! from all the way over here in Aus!

    XX HUG HUG!!!

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  8. I loved reading this Joni!! What a wonderful adventure and life changing experience for her. And, big hugs to you for being such a good Mom and for being so supportive in letting her go. Motherhood is the only job in the world where if you do it well, you are out of job (and your children are well adjusted adults in the world) Happy Mother's Day!
    xx-Gina

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  9. Happy Mother's Day Joni. I just loved reading this...she's a very lucky girl to be able to make this trip. It will stay with her forever. Time will take care of the empty nest and soon you'll be enjoying a litte peace and quiet even though you think not at this time. Her trips home from school wil be joyous! You have a lot to look forward to. xoxo

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  10. Beautiful Joni. Thank you for sharing a bit of Elizabeth's journey. The photo at sunrise at the top of Masada is magnificent...such a poignant human story, how wonderful that they were able to stand there and experience that history. Thank you, and happy Mother's Day! Trish

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  11. Beautiful post Joni...how proud you must be. Happy Mother's Day!

    Mary

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  12. Happy Mother's Day Joni! Beautiful post... your Elisabeth is growing into a stunning young woman. Hope she continues to enjoy this adventure she is on!!!

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  13. A wonderful post from a beautiful mother to her beautiful daughter. Happy Mother's Day dear Joni.

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  14. I can see by the beautiful, smiling girl to whom you've given such opportunity and freedom...you've done a heck of a great job as a mother. Happy Mother's Day!I hope she texted a lot!!

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  15. Elizabeth, like her mother, is lovely. What a special crowning adventure to a very rich education. We visited the Holy Land several years ago with our children. Indeed it makes the Bible come alive. You never read it the same way again. Kudos to you for raising a daughter who will know and understand her roots and God's blessing on His people. I am in the middle of writing a book called Meeting God at the Wailing Wall...so I loved the photo of the boys placing their prayers between the crevices!

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  16. Joni I have always had tremendous respect for you as a blogger but thanks to this post, I have a newfound respect for you. What an inspiring relationship you have with your daughter and the way you and Mr. Slipper-socks have chosen to raise her is beyond admirable. Love it. Hope you had a wonderful day knowing you've done good...

    Marija

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  17. That girl gets more gorgeous each picture...ah to be a proud Jewish Mama... do enjoy it feels warm and happy to read your post especially after Renee Finberg's which did make me smile but I do truly feel for her...thanks.

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  18. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post with us. Happy Mother's Day to you!

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  19. Joni,

    What a beautiful and moving post on Mother's Day. And you are so right. Israel is amazing and beautiful. So glad Elizabeth is there and enjoying her Senior trip. You must be very proud of the beautiful young woman you and Mr. Slippersocks have raised.

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  20. Oh,and Happy Mother's Day too!

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  21. Joni, such a moving, poignant post & poem about your beautiful daughter. She is very fortunate that you are her Mother.

    Karena

    Art by Karena

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  22. You are one lucky mom!!! What a beautiful daughter. And what an amazing opportunity. She will treasure memories of this trip for years to come.
    -Sanity Fair

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  23. Simply Beautiful in so many ways. Thanks for sharing. Happy Mom's Day!

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  24. Happy belated Mother's Day to you Joni and your beautiful girl. It is hard to see them go, but it looks like she is doing so well!! xo Terri

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  25. The only consolation for spending Mother's day without your child is knowing that they are having an amazing experience like Elizabeth is having. I'm sure she'll be a different person when she returns. I spent the day with one child here and one child gone. We skyped and saw the new baby...very cool, but I'd give anything to have her here with me too.
    What stories you're going to here!

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  26. What a wonderful trip for Elisabeth! We went in 1995 and it was really the trip of a life time.
    These pictures really took me back. we visited all those same places. I even rode a camel. She is making wonderful memories.

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  27. Joni,
    Elisabeth is such a lovely girl to see in pictures and I'm sure is the same in real life. I'd love to have seen her suitcase packed for a month though! I've followed along enough to know that she does like clothes. She looks very petite though, a packing advantage perhaps?!!!

    Sharon

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  28. She's beautiful Joni. You must be bursting with pride. What a wonderful Mother you are to her... supporting, encouraging and showing such an interest in her life.... a Mum dreams are made of. Cherish. A-M xx

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  29. She is beautiful your darling daughter. How lucky we mothers are to have our DD's....xv

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  30. just to be clear -It is Mediterranean sea not ocean!!

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  31. what a precious baby girl you have!
    she has grown into quite a beauty.

    this a truly a gift for her to see Israel.

    happy mother's day
    xx

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  32. I have always wasnted to visit Israel. A little nervous, but perhaps that stems from ignorance. Thanks you for showing some highlights of your daughter's trip.

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  33. What a perfect adventure for her class-- something to always remember and look back on! Thanks for sharing!!

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  34. What a beautiful and meningful trip....She'll remember it forever.

    Happy Mothers Day, Joni- you are an amazing role model for your daughter.

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  35. You have raised a beautiful daughter; beautiful inside and out. Letting go is so hard, but inevitable, with new ways of relating to our grown children. This was a touching post.

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  36. It has to be an incredable adventure for Elizabeth!!!
    Joni, the poem is so beautiful!
    Thank you for sharing.
    xx
    Greet

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  37. You must be so proud. What a beautiful girl!

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  38. Beautiful photos, beautiful writing, beautiful daughter - tears in my eyes. She is just lovely and to think she is yours and Ben's. Oh, I am so proud for you both. xo

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  39. Joni what an amazing life changing experience Elisabeth is having. She will always remember this trip. This time of life is a bit bitter sweet when they are getting ready to graduate. One minute they are this out the door teen and the next minute you can literally smell them as they were an infant. The memories come flooding in and out. I remember crying one minute and gritting my teeth the next. What an emotional roller coaster this time of life is. Like I always end my post. " Enjoy the PRocess Of: Making memories with Elisabeth, Kathysue

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  40. What a touching post. That experience will be one your daughter will always remember - she is a lucky girl! Happy Mother's Day!

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  41. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing with us on Mother's Day. Lovely daughter.

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  42. Joni, this absolutely made me cry! I loved every photo and every word. Your precious Elizabeth is so beautiful, and she is blessed to have a very beautiful mother, too.

    More than anything, I would love to go to Israel. My sister has been and loved it. I'm so glad that your daughter had this opportunity along with her classmates.

    As much as I hate the thought of the camps, I think it is important to remember so that it won't happen again. Ever.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    XO,

    Sheila

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  43. Oh what fun for her!! I think I have left a comment before telling you one of my very good friends is from Israel. We are planning to visit there together sometime soon. I have seen many pictures and have heard many wonderful stories about the country. It is a wealth of history and culture and I am looking forward to seeing it all.

    I have to tell you too Joni that your post, although lovely, brings a bit of a tear to my eye. Senior year is over, exams...done, prom..over and the next step is, dare I say, college! She is moving on. I am feeling your pain since I was in your shoes last year. It is so hard. On a more positive note I will say that life goes on and the first year goes so fast! My son is already home and teasing his sister again! Ahhh, there's nothing like it!

    Mazol Tov to you and your daughter!

    p.s. I looooove the poem!

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  44. Darn't thought I was done crying after doing my own Mother's Day post yesterday! Sigh...Everyone, has told me when it's time, you will ready to let them spread their wings. I have not had anything close to this reaction.

    My son is off to college in the fall..out of state...wish I lived close by to hear what this has felt like first hand. Yesterday, must have been hard.

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post and helping many "cope" in the process.
    ~Rebecca

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  45. Israel is a fabulous country! I am so glad to hear about your daughter's class experience there. Thank you for posting this and hopefully educating some people on the beauty and wonder of a country that some imagine to be a war torn dusty desert..couldn't be farther from the truth! I have spent much time in Tel Aviv and my sister is currently in the process of making aliyah!

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  46. You must be so proud! Happy belated Mother's Day.

    xo,
    cristin

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  47. Mazol Tov....

    What a beautiful post Joni !!!!

    I hope your Mother's Day was nice even if your beautiful daughter was not there !!!

    All the best,
    Kathy :)

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  48. Congratulations! Those pictures remind me of the same trips all three of my children have taken to Israel where they had an incredible experience. I think it's a wise choice to go straight to college. My daughters' friends who chose to do an op year in Israel never wanted to come home, in fact one girl came home after the year in Israel, spent a year at the U. of Michigan then joined the IDF! Don't worry about college, I'm close to my girls and they call ALL the time on their phones while walking to class (you just have to get used to the wind in the background.)

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  49. What an adventure. Your daughter is going to see and do so much, thank you for letting us peek into her fabulous life!

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  50. I'm sure I will go to Israel , I guess it is the dream of every jewish. For every yom Kippour we say : " next year , we will celebrate it in Jerusalem "

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  51. I know a lot of people who have done similar trips... they say it is life changing!

    I too was born on passover and it usually makes for a pretty crappy cake!

    Happy mothers day!

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  52. Joni - this is your best post yet. I cannot stop looking at that picture of the young men at the Wall. It's all too moving.

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  53. wonderful.what a blessed young lady

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  54. Joni: I love your posts, and this is particularly lovely...I would love to visit Israel, though I'm not Jewish, I have always felt it would be a magnificent place to see of course as the Holy Land. Your daughter is extremely lucky and I hope she cherishes every moment - it will be imprinted on her brain forever! Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!! xx

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  55. Thank you for the Mother's Day wishes.....the first Mother's Day without your child is so hard. Hopefully there will not be too many more. Sounds like Elisabeth is having a great experience. xoxo Mary

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  56. I just LOVED this post.

    Jennifer

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  57. Hello Joni Webb,
    I read your blog everyday. Your heart is always in your writing,
    particularly in this post for Mother's Day. You've given your daughter roots and wings.
    Best wishes,
    BarG

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  58. To say that bombings and terrorist attacks don't happen in Israel is very short sighted to say the least. A daughter of a friend of mine spent the summer after her freshman year in college (now 7 years ago) working as a medic on an ambulance in Israel. While this was an unusual circumstance, a war broke out between Lebanon and Israel and she spent much of her time in a cave type area carved out of her host family's home. After weeks of this, she came home. Yes, for the most part students of every age can rely on relative safety, but the region is still volatile. Question: Was the reference to "home country" made because your daughter was born there? I hope it will be a wonderful trip for her.

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  59. Joni,
    A belated Happy Mother's Day to you. I was alone too, both kids away and hubby away on business. I had a sad day.
    Your Elisabeth is having the experience of a lifetime, it has been many years since I traveled to that great land, but have clear memories from my time spent there. I am sure as difficult as it is for her to be away it's been good for you both.
    xx

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  60. Just now catching up Joni. Thank you for sharing this touching post with us.

    Cheers to you, your lovely Lizzy and family. Hope you enjoyed the day!
    Hugs.
    T

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  61. Joni, what a great post. Your Elizabeth is at the beginning of a whole new stage in her {and yours!} life...so thrilling.

    She is a lovely young woman, and kudos to you, friend, for being the kind of Mom who loves her and cares for her and mentored her so well. Happy Mother's Day, Lidy

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  62. happy to share your blog!
    good article! l love it
    Do you still angry with the short time you laptop bateries were,i think i can help you ,look at thelaptop batteries ,you will surprise ,I believe i can help you solve your problem

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  63. Joni, I love your blog, but during the past weeks I have not been able to open your article photographs. Are you loading them differently? Do you have any suggestions?
    I enjoyed--without pictures--the story of your daughter's trip to Israel. Our own daughter lived in Israel for the past two years on assignment as an engineer with Intel. We traveled from our home in Brazil to visit her, and absolutely loved the experience, the country, the people, the food, everything! My husband went twice, and I am so envious.
    A funny side story: we noticed at the gate in the Sao Paulo airport that a group of Brazilian Jewish teenagers was going to travel with us. It was evidently a graduation trip similar to the one your daughter took. The kids were fairly -- 'excited' is a kind way of saying it -- and my husband said (in Portuguese) to the rabbi who was leading the group, "Wow, you will have your hands full keeping them in their seats during this long flight." The rabbi responded with a smile, and a nod to the Brazilian half of their heritage, "Don't worry. They promised that once they get onto the plane, they'll be as proper as the Pope!"

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