Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Summer that Isn't

Well, unless you have recently returned from some extra-terrestrial journey, you are probably well aware of the present goings on here in the Holy Land of Israel. Many of you have expressed your concerns which is deeply appreciated. I assure you that albeit a bit shaken, we are all alive and well and continuing on with our daily lives, as best as possible considering the situation. Because of your concern, I am writing to describe our own personal experience during this time.

First of all, I have no work this week, hence the time to sit down and write this message to you. Thank G-d I enjoy a good reputation in the world of tour guiding in Israel which keeps me busy most of the time. One aspect of our business here is to grab all work you can when it comes your way, because you never know when those opportunities will suddenly dry up.

It's actually a good sign of sorts that I received a few cancellations due to the present security situation. Fortunately it means that I am busy to begin with! Cancellations obviously don't have much of an impact on Tour guides who aren't working to begin with. So I have this full week to spend with the kids, change some light bulbs in the house and other stuff like that. I am scheduled to begin a 10 day Birthright group arriving from London next Sunday. And so far it remains a go. So a little breather beforehand is a good thing.

The Summer season got off to a really lousy start with the kidnappings and murder of three Israeli teens on their way home. Then was the rioting and now of course the sirens and rockets.

The kids are in summer camp, and all their camp trips have been cancelled. That's a bummer. And on Thursday, we saw a rocket fall just to the side of the road while on our way home. That was scary. One day we'll all be able to laugh about it. Not just yet. And the tourists I was guiding last week in Jerusalem did not in any way enjoy seeking shelter when sirens went off. But we still managed to enjoy a great time.

So here is the bottom line. This is already our 12th summer since making aliyah. When we arrived in 2003 suicide bombing was all the rampage here. Those were the days of Saddam Hussein, buses being blown up and gas masks. And who can forget Lebanon war number 2 in 2006.

And still, life goes on. Let me give you a for instance. At the end of the school year, a special end of the year program was organized by the school. It was an opportunity for the school to show off the accomplishments of the students, not the academic accomplishments but the result of the extra-curriculum stuff sponsored by the school, stuff like taekwondo and dance.

We had both a first and fifth grader performing, Menucha and Nechama. Honestly, Ellie was not looking forward to sitting through another stretched out school program (in Hebrew!) without my company (I was busy at work), but ...

What Ellie saw made such an impact on her. The kids were great. The dancing was spectacular. But two things made the greatest impression on her.

First, that the school should invest so heavily in programs that truly round out the educational experience for the children. Who can even begin to imagine what the cost for these type of programs would be back in the States. And here it is something offered as part of the school program. Very, very impressive.

But was even more impressive was that a child with Downs Syndrome, who back in the States would have been "Sinai'd, resource room'd, labeled, etc was totally accepted by her classmates (and the system!), participating in the dance just like any other of her classmates. Of course it meant extra effort on behalf of the school and on behalf of the teacher. But they made it happen. It was one of the most beautiful sights you could ever imagine seeing in your life.

And it happened here. Don't be fooled by all that stuff you are being fed on CNN or whoever. Despite the challenges we have here, and there are plenty, they still do not take away from the quality of life we and our children and grandchildren enjoy here.

And that is exactly the reason why me made Aliyah, and exactly the reason why we are here to stay.

All our love. Thank you for your blessings. Be safe.

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