My Israeli Kids
Just yesterday, I was sitting on my living room sofa changing Yaakov’s diaper when I found myself humming a song…
“What is that?” I wondered…And I had no clue what I was humming until, AHA!, I figured it out. I was singing this:
Up until the age of 17 I spent, on average, 5 hours a day in front of the TV. That’s close to 20,000 hours (or TWO YEARS), JewishMOM, of The Brady Bunch, Love Boat, LA Law, and the source of this week’s ear-worm, The Facts of Life.
This morning several older women stood around the aerobics instructors open-mouthed.
“I was totally secular, and I had EVERYTHING,” she explained. “I had a career as a dancer, I had money, I had success, I had a boyfriend. But my soul was starving…”
Amos prophesized, “Behold days are approaching, Hashem said, and I will send hunger into the Land. Not hunger for bread. And not thirst for water. But rather to hear the word of Hashem.”
Hungry, hungry, hungry.
Oh, I was so hungry. So hungry, too. Starving.
My favorite holiday of the whole year isn’t Passover or Rosh Hashana or Succot or Chanukah or any of the other biggies.
My favorite holiday is Jerusalem Day.* And this is why…
I first celebrated Jerusalem Day during my first visit to Israel in 1992. I found my way to downtown Jerusalem from the Baalot Teshuva seminary where I was studying, and discovered Jaffa Road flooded by a sea of 10s of 1000s of religious Israeli teenagers dancing with Israeli flags.
And I knew at that moment that THAT was what I wanted.
I still hadn’t met my husband. I still wasn’t even religious. But I was hungry, so hungry.
And I saw those kids, and I think that in my heart I prayed my first honest-to-goodness prayer: “Hashem, THIS is what I want. I want to have children like these children. Proud to be Jews. Proud to be Israeli. Idealistic. Strong. Religious, just like these kids. Please God!”
So for the next few years, I attended the Jerusalem Day celebrations. First on my own. And then with my boyfriend, Joshua. And then with my husband, Joshua. And then with my husband, Joshua, and a baby…
And every year as I joined those crowds of dancing teenagers, I was filled with that same unspoken prayer that lit afire every ounce of my being.
Please God, please God.
And today, 21 years after those dancing teenagers first filled me with such intense yearning, I will celebrate with my own 7 Israeli children in those crowds.
And unlike me, whose mind at the age of 8 and 11 and 15 was full of sit-coms and top 40 songs and Coke commercials my children’s minds and hearts are full of this:
Today I will celebrate with a flag in my hand, with tears in my eyes, and with intense gratitude to Hashem in my heart for my answered prayer.
Because with its frustrations. And with its challenges. And with its ups and downs, I know that my life is my own Israeli dream come true.