Sunday, September 17, 2006
Last week my family and I returned from a two week trip to Israel. The pretext for going was my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah in Beit Shemesh, but we stayed for two weeks -which is way longer than the festivities. We started our trip in Jerusalem, moved to Beit Shemesh from Thursday night through the weekend, sojourned to Tel Aviv for two days of R & R and time with my second sister Bena (not as diametrically opposed as some in my family would believe!) on the beach and then returned to Jerusalem. We even decided to cut short our Tel Aviv portion to focus more time on Jerusalem. With two kiddies, it took us a lot of time to get ourselves out the door in unfamiliar territory (especially the first week of jet-lag days) so we gave ourselves an extra day in Jerusalem to accomplish more of what we had originally set out to do. Lots of time was spent at the Kotel (wailing wall) and in the Rova (Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.) We did a lot of shopping in Mea Shearim for Judaica, gifts and art. Exploring the Jewish “shuk” (open air bazaar) of Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem was a blast. We brought back fresh spices, candy and nuts from there. (Unfortunately, we got your message to bring back some of Marzipan bakery’s famous rugelach too late, Mennu –but they were delicious!) Discovering the quaint neighborhood of Nachla’ot behind the “shuk,” exploring it and letting Basya (our twenty month old) frolic in a playground we found was a special treat. So was visiting my step-aunt’s beautiful apartment in Jerusalem’s oldest Jewish neighborhood outside of the old city –Yemin Moshe- basking in the glorious view of the old city from her balcony, and picking out a piece of artwork from her collection as a belated wedding gift to us (a Braque.) (For the record, we turned down a Matisse and two Chagalls in the mix because we thought they were –ah- not to our taste.) Our second Shabbat was spent at my sister’s house in Beit Shemesh, where I finally got to spend some quality time with my eldest sibling and her family and she got to spend some time getting to know my family. (The last time we saw each other prior to this trip was at my wedding.) Too soon, Sunday was upon us and we had to return to the 'States. The weather upon landing was dreary and wet, which pretty much summed our feelings about leaving Israel and returning to our regular workaday lives.