PASSOVER GREETINGS 2021
Dear Friends & Framily,
Who would have believed that a year after our last family report, we would still be masked and avoiding crowds and fearful of contagion in the outside world?
Then, our little greeting card showed the Greener family jumping out of our houses of matzah with the hope that we will soon emerge from darkness to a great light.
Took a little longer but we're getting there. Israel is beginning to ease up on some of the major restrictions, the economy is opening, and entrance is being allowed (with certain rules) to restaurants, theaters, gyms and other recreational establishments. All of the adults have received their two vaccinations (with Doug being the last holdout), which entitles them to certain "privileges."
But in spite of the imposed restrictions during the past year, life went on: New jobs, new homes, new challenges. We have gotten through the year in different ways.
Ami over in Washington, DC, has felt the pandemic's effect on the economy more than any one of us. Tourism is his game – outgoing to Costa Rica and other vacation destinations, and incoming Israelis to Washington – and this has dried up. His remote Hebrew teaching had helped sustain him, but he hasn't let the situation prevent him from enjoying his city and the surrounding country. He's taken several road trips together with his girlfriend May during this period, including to Tidewater Virginia and a longer camping trip to Cleveland (to visit Trudy's brother Dan), exploring wild northwestern Pennsylvania along the way.
During this time he has also been practicing and experimenting with cooking and preparing vegetarian cuisine from May's homeland, Thailand.
Ami took an active role in the elections, and he was probably one of the happiest people in DC with the change of government.
Here in Modi'in, the home of the Greener-Takefmans, Aharon, Melanie and the three kids are beginning to adjust to a more-normal situation. Unlike many others who were given "unpaid vacations," Aharon and Melanie continued in their regular jobs, sometimes by remote computer, sometimes by actually traveling to their offices. There were many more days spent staying home with the children, juggling work, home-schooling, family life and household chores. Amitai (12) and Yadin (8) did almost all their schooling this year by remote. They fared remarkably well and both had excellent mid-term report cards. Maya (2) went to her family-style nursery school – when it was open.
Aharon is the Program and Office Manager at the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. He is responsible for all of the public programs (though this year they were all by remote computer), running the Fellows Program (though there were none this year!), and in general keeping the institute running on an even keel. He also spent a few days at Timna in the southern Negev Desert finishing up his research on stone tools used in the ancient copper mining site.
Melanie was promoted at Tel Aviv University, becoming Senior Content Editor. Among her duties producing news and content for the university, she is also now editor of the annual magazine, a job which she enjoys and brings her back to the world of journalism and print of her early career. The university's strategic communications team has been expanding and they are busy producing videos and more. Melanie is active on the Parents' Committee (PTA) of Amitai's and Yadin's school, especially in the areas of road safety and community building.
Amitai is finishing the sixth grade. He was accepted to an elite class with an enriched sports program (both practical and theoretical) at the local junior high that he starts in September. This took a long application process and even a personal interview. We are all very proud of him. After school, he continues training twice a week with his tennis club and plays with his father, brother and friends on weekends and afternoons. When he's not playing tennis, he meets with his nature group, doing weekly outdoor activities and embarking on the occasional hiking and camping trip
Yadin will start the fourth grade in September. He's also doing very well at school and has chosen tennis as his extra-curricular activity, though because of lockdown he has played very little. This year, he's missed meeting friends regularly and extra-curricular activities, such as electronics and the swimming lessons his Mom promised him; we hope things will return to normal soon. Yadin loves to draw and build things, the more complex the better, and is striving to be an accomplished chef. He whipped up a breakfast omelette when he stayed recently with Grandpa Doug and Savta Trudy. "I know you said you would eat this because I'm making it, Grandpa," he said, "but you really shouldn't because you're a vegan."
Maya is talking up a blue streak and running after her brothers. She enjoys drawing and "reading" books, naming everything she sees in both Hebrew and English. She loves her small daycare, where she is the youngest, but doesn't seem to care. She has a beautiful smile that lights up the room.
The Greener-Zaguri family in Tirat Carmel (near Haifa) also moved to a new apartment last summer. This is a home they followed from the planning stage, watching the building go up and being involved in all the interior decoration. Their porch looks out over the Mediterranean, giving them a beautiful sunset most every night.
Dalit is now officially a triple-tasker: Mother of two unstoppable 3½-year-old twins, Administrative Nurse at the Ma'agan Michael Nursing Home, and now in addition, doctoral candidate at Haifa University's School of Nursing.
Dalit took a break after getting her Master's degree, but her teachers and adviser saw the potential and convinced her to continue. So she's now preparing the ground for beginning her thesis research on, "The Impact of 'Intensive Individualized Comfort Care' on Nursing Home Residents with Advanced Dementia, on their Family Members, and on the Nursing Home Staff." A definite best-seller!
Eitan began a new job in August. He started working as a chemical engineer employed by the army at a facility for maintenance and refurbishing of equipment. All of the employees are civilians (as is Eitan) but they provide services to the Israel Defense Forces. It's a busy job; keeps him moving all the time, but he finds it highly satisfying and a real opportunity to utilize his engineering training.
Yahav and Lotan – friends, brothers, twins – spent almost the entire school year without a nursery school framework. Dalit and Eitan had to find some time in their busy workdays to be with them, of course, but most of the daytime child care fell on Dalit's mom, Savta Lilly. She must have done something right. The twins are active and inquisitive. They sit together, play together, and eat together, and are strong-willed and know what they want. They enjoy drawing and creative toys, helping in the kitchen, playing sports and tackling challenges in the playground. Their playroom has a climbing wall which they find hard to resist, and sometimes Eitan builds a "ninja path" for them to complete through the apartment. However, Yahav the fair redhead would like always to be first, and rushes in with no fear, whether it's a new game, new people, or climbing to the top. Lotan gives things a little more thought before plunging in, and he doesn't mind stopping when he's had enough.
Back in Jerusalem, Trudy has filled her Corona lock-down days with amazing, varied zoom offerings. A live course on the book of Joshua that had been cut short by the lock-down picked up again via zoom, and the organization threw in another course – she chose Humor in Cinema. Other courses on music, history, bible, literature, Zionism, even daily exercise classes– are all free. She's hoping that some of them will continue even when the health situation improves! She hasn't been able to go to her volunteer work for the Free Loan Association (now called Ogen) for quite some time, but has started work on next year's Jerusalem SPCA calendar. Maybe one good thing is that she has had the time to keep her plants thriving – especially a beautiful African violet plant and a lovely orchid that has just flowered after a year of hibernation. (Maybe she did indeed inherit her mother's green thumb.) And she now looks forward to resuming visits to Modi'in and Tirat Carmel – even if she still has to wear a mask on the way.
Doug joined Trudy for a lot of the online theater, lectures, workshops and "webinars" that they watched together. Of course, there was no lack of other subjects which interested only him. He continues to write his blog on Israeli craft beer (Israel Brews and Views) and the occasional beer column in The Jerusalem Post, though without attending the live events and festivals which were so much fun before the coronavirus locked everybody in. With the gym closed for about a half-a-year, Doug moved his exercising to home. Jogging continued as usual since those who engaged in "outdoor singular sports" were allowed to do so without a mask. Most of the visits with the children and grandchildren were done through Skype or Zoom or WhatsApp or some other competing service whose name will
However, just recently we have begun to see these restraints loosening up. The gyms are open, as are restaurants, pubs and cultural events. Families and different generations can visit each other again. The Greener family in Israel will come together for the Passover Seder in Jerusalem. Six adults, four young men and one young lady. When last year we Zoomed, this year we will congregate and break matzah together.
This year also we have a convergence of holidays which lets us send greetings to one and all with this family report. The week of Passover coincides with Holy Week before Easter, and they both take place within the Holy Month of Ramadan. We wish everyone a great spring holiday season, when we finally will begin to emerge into normal life, even better than what we knew before.
חג פסח כשר ושמח!
Doug, Trudy, Amiel, Aharon, Melanie, Amitai, Yadin, Maya, Eitan, Dalit, Yahav, Lotan