The Kibbutznik’s Son

The Kibbutznik’s Son

When my husband was 17, newly graduated from a public school in Canada, he traveled to Israel to volunteer at a Shomer HaTsair kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley. Each volunteer had a kibbutz family that adopted him, and Josh was adopted by the wonderful Herman family with whom Josh became close, especially with their 15-year-old son Yaal.

Yaal was an unusual kid with a unusual name, his secular kibbutznik parents had chosen to name their 1st child after the last word in the Bible–“V’Yaal” and he will rise up.

That year at the kibbutz, Yaal and Josh traveled all around Israel together, and afterwards they remained good friends.

After the kibbutz, my husband found his way to a yeshiva in Jerusalem, where he remained for a few months. Josh went back to college in America, and then returned to yeshiva in Israel, ultimately becoming a rabbi and a teacher.

Meanwhile, Yaal grew up, graduated high school, joined the IDF. I remember meeting Yaal when Josh I were dating; he was 20 years old, still in army uniform.

Over the years, Yaal, like Josh, started a journey towards a religious life.

One Shabbat, 16 years ago, Yaal joined us for a Shabbat meal, and he some of Josh’s students from Nishmat. Later on, they told their good friend, Betty, that they had just met her husband.

Betty laughed. “Really? So what’s my husband’s name?”

“I don’t remember exactly…But it’s the last word in the Bible!” So the friend ran to get a Tanach, and turned to the last page.

“V’Yaal? His name is V’Yaal?” Betty asked in disbelief…

14 years ago, my husband had the honor of performing Yaal and Betty’s wedding. On Chanukah, the light, the miracles, filling the air. What an emotional event. Josh’s old friend married…

And then, Ashi was born. His bris was on a snowy, icy Shabbat morning. Yaal was a father, Betty was a mother…Unbelievable!

Over the years, 4 more children joined Ashi, 3 brothers and a sister (I once made a video about Betty’s birth to a girl after 4 boys).

And this morning, by Jerusalem’s Old City walls, surrounded by friends and family, Ashi celebrated his bar mitzvah. Little Ashi suddenly SO grown up. The proud parents glowing, standing beside their children.

And looking at this beautiful family, the steps that had led up to that moment flashed through my mind, ultimately leading to this: a mother, a father, 5 children, celebrating their son’s initiation into the Jewish people.

And the gift I gave to Ashi was…a Bible.

So Ashi can always turn to the last page and remember that he and his family, he and the holy Jewish home he grew up in, exist today because of the dedication and love of his mother, Betty, and also because of the choice of his special father, Yaal, He will rise up.


  1. mazel tov! that is such a beautiful hashgocha pratis story! thanx for sharing!

  2. You really brought out the beauty and warmth of that story.
    Mazal Tov!

  3. What a beautiful story.

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