Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Israel Pictures - Part 2

Our trip continues...

We took a bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The bus ride itself was uneventful but I must say that getting on the bus was quite a challenge. As the bus pulled up a whole crowd of people rushed toward the door. (PHD had warned us about this, but no amount of warning could have properly prepared us for this.) I held tight onto LO so as not to lose her in the crowd. PHD was pushing his way towards the door and we tried to stay as close as possible. For LO this must have been frightening as I looked down at her and could see that she was smashed in the crowd. She cried out, "Abba, Abba!" And what happened then is what I imagine it was like when Moses parted the Red Sea. The area around her mysteriously opened up and everyone let us pass so that we could join PHD as he was getting on the bus.

We visited the Kotel every day that we were in Jerusalem except one. LO loved praying there and she loved giving tzedakah to the ladies that were sitting alongside the wall. She was also thrilled the moment one of those ladies tied a red string around her arm. I explained that these red string were supposed to have come from Kever Rachel. From that moment on, she decided that Kever Rachel was somewhere we needed to visit. (We didn't make it this trip but I have some offers to take us on our next trip!)

As for me, I have always viewed the Kotel as a holy place and wondered how I would feel when I finally saw it in person. I was surprised to find that I was not overly moved when we arrived. But a bigger surprise was in store for me. We walked up to the wall to pray and when I put my hand on the wall and started to pray I was overcome with so much emotion that I started to cry. There is no way to describe that feeling nor do I think I can ever forget that feeling. It was absolutely an amazing experience.

PHD was not so lucky though. Just as he started to pray, several men tapped him on the shoulder asking for tzedakah. It reached a point where he was actually unable to daven. I would have never believed this had I not witnessed it with my own eyes. Religious men not allowing others to have their own personal time with Hashem. Shame on them.

This picture is for Z and Chiab. Somewhere in this picture is the note that I placed in the wall with prayers for you both.

Our visit happen to coincide with French President Nicholas Sarkozy's visit. The rental car agency we rented a car from was outside the King David Hotel. Little did we know that the day we went to pick up the car that they would close the road until he left the hotel.

As we were headed to Masada, LO and I were THRILLED to see actual live camels on the side of the road. Of course I needed a picture of her with one. We hopped out of the car into the BLAZING heat and headed towards one. It made a weird noise and this is how LO reacted.

This is LO as we started our tour of Masada. She looks quite happy to be there doesn't she?

This is LO towards the end of our tour of Masada. Need I say more?

From Masada we headed to the Dead Sea. I can't tell you how many times I made PHD stop the car so I could take pictures. So breathtaking.

We're Miami girls and we are used to the cool Atlantic ocean. Imagine our surprise when we put our feet in the Dead Sea and felt that hot, oily feeling water.

On the way back from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem, this is what we ran in to. The road was closed. We were told it was because some people had snuck in from Jordan. We had to take a VERY LONG detour back to where we came from and up through the Zohar Valley which made us none too happy but...

had we not detoured, we would not have seen this beautiful view.

The detour took us through the West Bank and we got our first glimpse of the separation barriers.

Next up...a visit with one of our favorite bloggers and his family.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Israel Pictures - Part 1

I've written pages and pages of stories and details of our trip to Israel. If I posted it ALL here, you would all probably be sleeping, so instead I decided to do sort of a highlights of our trip with pictures. Enjoy.

Palmach Museum - This is located at the University of Tel Aviv. It's unusual for a museum in the fact that there are no artifacts or displays. You go to a series of rooms where they present the history as though you are actually experiencing the history while it happened. If you have never been, I strongly suggest it. If you ask LO what her favorite places in Israel were, this one is definitely on the list. At the beginning of our tour, a guide came and gave a little history of who the Palmach were. In the middle of this history, LO tapped me and with a very sour look on her face she whispered, "Ima, this is JUST like school." Knowing that there was much history to be learned on our trip - this was certainly a scary way to start. However...at the end of the tour, she again tapped me and exclaimed, "That was AWESOME! It was like Disney World except in Hebrew!" Maybe they should market it that way.

Shuk Carmel - PHD loves to go to the shuks. Our visit to Shuk Carmel was just one of almost a dozen shuks that we went to. We loved listening to the vendors shout out what they were selling and how much it costs and then trying to figure out what they were saying. I think LO's favorite part of shuk shopping was the fact that she got to sample all kinds of foods.

Shawarma - On the Shabbat before we left, we had lunch with our Rabbi. One of the places he told us not to miss was a shawarma place in Tel Aviv. Since I couldn't write it down, I had to remember the place in my head. What I remembered was Ben Yehuda and Boker Sov (yes - Boker SOV like Boker Tov with an "S"). We walked quite a bit down Ben Yehuda and asked quite a few people where Boker Sov Street was. Most just looked at us with blank stares. Just as we were about to give up, someone said, "Do you mean Bograshov Street?" We were only a half block away. And here is we received quite a pleasant welcome from our Rabbi's favorite shawama stand. And oh was it yummy.

The Golan Heights - PHD's cousin Toli arranged a day trip for us to the Golan. We went to the Golan Archaeological Museum, a winery, the Mount Bental lookout, and a pick your own fruit place. We learned about Gamla. We saw Lake Kinneret. We picked and ate as many blackberries as our stomachs could hold. We even got to see the world's largest Israeli flag. At the gift shop at Mount Bental, we purchased a beautiful necklace for LO that has the blessing of the daughters on it. (We plan to give it to her for her bat mitzvah.) We spent some time chatting with the shopkeeper. We explained that we say this blessing over LO on every Shabbat and that we have said it so many times that even LO knows it. LO then came over and recited the blessing for her. The smile on the woman's face was priceless. We talked about how LO knows so many of the prayers from going to services so often and LO recited the Shema and the V'ahavta for her. The woman told us that it gave her goosebumps and she was so filled with joy that it looked like there were tears in her eyes. She then leaned over to LO and said, "You know what? You just made my day." That almost made me cry. That moment made me so proud to be Jewish and feel so blessed to be in Israel.

(more to come...)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Jewish Guilt

So the time has come for me to mail our wedding invitations. Like so many couples do, we have had an ever-changing list of who is invited and who is not invited. I would love to invite our entire Shul - of course I would have to win the lottery to afford that but it's still a nice genuine thought of mine.

Since we've both been married before we agreed that we wanted a small ceremony. Originally we had planned for a minyan. That minyan has blossomed into three minyans. And I'm ok with that. And I am ok with the Jewish guilt I feel about inviting some of our Shul friends and not others.

So the list is FINALLY finalized. The invitations have been beautifully addressed and now they are sitting on my desk waiting to be mailed.

And then my sister calls to lay on some guilt. You see, I am not inviting my mother. My mother and I do not have a wonderful relationship. Actually, we don't speak at all. My sister is sure that years from now I will feel guilty about not having invited my mother. And of course the guilt has already settled in and I am doubting my decision since she is my only mother no matter what our relationship is like. What do you all think? Invite her? Don't invite her? Oy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bed Jumping

After 3 long very hot hours at Masada and a quick dip in the Dead Sea, my kid will apparently do anything for a laugh.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

We're back

We're back and have so much to share about our trip. I took over 1000 pictures and the task to go through them is a little overwhelming at the moment. I promise to share soon.

The trip was amazing and made us only want to make aliyah even sooner. I am not sure I can put into words how heavy my heart felt as we were in the taxi on the way to the airport.

For those of you who asked me to daven at the Kotel for you - please know that we went there several times a day for several days and I prayed and put notes in the wall for each of you.

I am off to start unpacking (ugh!) and to try to keep LO awake - she is definitely losing the battle over jet lag today. For now, I'll leave you all with our new favourite song that we can't seem to get out of our heads (PHD's cousins sang it over and over while we were there)...