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Thursday, April 9, 2015

On Tel Aviv's Promenade this Passover

It’s Thursday morning and I’m taking my brisk walk on Tel Aviv’s promenade, internalizing my journey to Israel with my family – my husband, daughter, son-in-law and my two grandchildren, who had flown back home to New York early this morning. Aside from the trips to Jerusalem - the new and the ancient, the Dead Sea and Masada, two personal events characterized this trip. The first was the launching of my book No Laughter in Winter, which I just published here in Hebrew; the second was celebrating Passover with my large extended family. Both were awesome.

More than sixty guests attended the book launching in a small hall in a beautiful historic building near Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard. They were childhood friends and friends from latter periods of my life, and lots of family. There was a moderator, three speakers, and much love and warmth in the room. But for me, the highlight of the evening was when my seven year old grandson, who had been seating quietly in the audience, suddenly asked if I could mention his name. Not speaking Hebrew, the language that dominated the evening, he recognized his mother’s and sister’s names, and wanted to be mentioned too. When I invited him and his sister to the stage I felt utterly fulfilled. Both by my side, it was a rare moment for me in the city of my birth, me talking about a book that describes not just my life, but the life of an ordinary Israeli family that tell the story of the country.

Then came the Passover Seder at my cousin’s house. We were close to forty people, like we had been at my grandparents home. Though my last time at a Passover Seder with my family in Israel was almost thirty years ago, it felt as if time stood still, except for the younger faces: the third, fourth and fifth generations of my elders. And it felt warm and natural to be there, like in years past. And like in years past, my daughter asked me how I could leave all that love and warmth and move to another country. And like years past I told her that sometimes life takes us to places we had not planned to be, and force upon us decisions we never thought we would have to make.

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