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. 

 

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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.

 

 

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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