This has been a spring most hoped for. The Israeli winter of 2021-2022 was cold and wet. And – to make it even worse – long. In one of the vagaries of the Hebrew year, and extra month was added on to winter. It coincided with March, which went on to be registered as the coldest March in Israel since 1928!
Shortly after spring arrived, and the clock went forward to "summertime," the change was just as drastic. The days became warm and dry, and here to mark the change of seasons is Passover, festival of spring and festival of freedom.
This year, Aharon, Melanie, Amitai, Yadin and Maya, along with Melanie's mom Joyce from Montreal, attended Doug and Trudy's Passover Seder in Jerusalem. Eitan, Dalit and twins Yahav and Lotan were with Dalit's parents David and Lily in Tirat Carmel. Ami was with friends in Washington, DC.
The mega-event for the family was without a doubt Amitai's Bar Mitzvah in Modi'in just three weeks ago. Melanie and Aharon had been planning it for the better part of a year. The entire family in Israel was there, of course, but so were several of Melanie's relatives and friends who had come from Canada for the occasion, including Bubbe Joyce and Uncle Jason. Uncle Ami arrived from Washington, DC.
In addition to reading from the Torah on Shabbat, Amitai did an extra reading on Thursday evening, so it could be shared on zoom with family and friends who could not come. Great-grandma Goldie (who recently celebrated her 104th birthday) and great-uncle Hal in Florida were among the viewers.
Amitai read his Bar Mitzvah speech in English on Thursday and in Hebrew on Shabbat. He spoke about his love of sports, his vegetarianism, the connection between the biblical leprosy (which was in his Torah portion) and corona, and even the war in the Ukraine. We were all very proud of him.
Since we started with Amitai, let's stay with his family in Modi'in, the place that Uncle Ami says, "looks like a city but feels like a suburb." Or maybe it was vice versa.
Aharon is the Assistant Director of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archeological Research in Jerusalem – though he has held many more responsibilities this past year, since the previous director has left and the new one hasn't arrived yet. After a long period when the Institute was quiet and empty because of corona, it is once again humming with research fellows, and active with workshops and field trips.
Aharon also finds time for his own research, giving lectures and leading workshops, running (including the Jerusalem half-marathon a few months ago), and being a daddy to his three kids.
Melanie is Editor-in-Chief of the Tel Aviv University magazine, TAU Review (https://taureview.tau.ac.il), and editor for social media. Her team is involved in some new projects, including more video production and expansion of social media marketing. Melanie hopes that the spring and summer will see her hectic days slowing down a bit so she can return to writing her book on women and migration.
Bar Mitzvah boy Amitai is in the seventh grade and doing very well in junior high. He enjoys the sports and other enrichment programs, specifically tennis, and hiking and camping. Just before the Bar Mitzvah, the group went on a two-night camping trip in the desert, and Amitai later hosted his friends (and his brother) to an afternoon of rappelling.
Yadin is in the fourth grade, and we're tempted to say, "going on high school." He reads avidly and is very serious about the subjects he likes; one of them is astronomy. One day a week, he takes special classes for gifted children, as well as afternoon enrichment at his regular school. He is also a big fan and player of soccer, and participated in his first tennis tournament this year.
Maya is an active three-year-old who speaks her mind in English and Hebrew at every opportunity. She is flourishing at her current pre-school, where she enjoys showing the other kids and the staff how to do yoga positions and what the colors are called in Arabic. She enjoys coloring and playing with stickers.
From here we head north to Tirat Carmel to Eitan, Dalit and the twins.
Eitan works as a chemical engineer for the army, in a plant where weapons and vehicles are refurbished. He just moved into his new office. His lab is operational, but he works every day on improving it. Working for the army has many benefits, including discounts on lots of goods and services. Eitan's workplace is also close to home, making it a great convenience.
Dalit is a Ph.D. candidate in Nursing at Haifa University, where she will soon submit a detailed proposal for her thesis. These things take time. At the University, she's working as an assistant to the Vice Dean of Research. In October, she'll begin work as a half-time lecturer to first-year Nursing students at the Ruppin Academic Center, where she graduated as an RN in 2015. "As of now," Dalit would like to continue in the academic world.
Actually Eitan and Dalit's "real" work is taking care of the four-year-old twins, Yahav and Lotan. From the rising of the sun until the setting, they are perpetual motion machines. Yahav (the redhead) is always in the forefront, whether it's a new physically challenging activity, a game or toy, or doing something with mommy or daddy – but Lotan (our brunet) is never far behind. It seems the only time they sit quietly is during "Grandpa School," when Doug tests them on their knowledge of English (which is pretty good). Of course, it helps that correct answers get star stickers and prizes.
Ami is still in Washington, DC, a city and neighborhood he enjoys very much, with his girlfriend May. The DC tour season is picking up, and Ami is busy again with his tours in Hebrew and English on many different aspects of Washington history (email@example.com). He's also working for the State Department (Foreign Service Institute), teaching Hebrew and Israeli culture via Zoom classes.
Ami flew down to Florida last month to be with Grandma Goldie for her 104th birthday, and then came to Israel for Amitai's Bar Mitzvah.
Back in Jerusalem, Trudy had to stop some of her volunteer activities because of the corona rules, but picked up others. The constant is the Jerusalem SPCA, which she assists from home. She's also started teaching English skills to children from the local elementary school (Eitan's old alma mater). After Pesach she will start volunteering at the English Library for the Visually Impaired in Jerusalem.
Of course, the highlight of recent weeks was grandson Amitai's Bar Mitzvah - and Trudy admits that she was thrilled to have been called up to read a part of the Torah.
Doug is much better now, but the corona caught up with him right after the Bar Mitzvah. He thought he was immune, invincible, but ten days of bad coughing, especially at night, proved otherwise. Just as bad for a beer blogger, he lost most of his sense of taste.
But he's already returned to the gym and almost his regular exercise routine, and the smell and taste are rushing back. He returned to drinking beers and writing his blog, Israel Brews and Views, as soon as the Passover beer-fast ended.
We wish all of our family and friends a very Happy Holiday Season and a wonderful springtime to follow.