Wow. Oh wow. I don't even know where to start, and that's the problem with not blogging often enough!!
There is something in the air this time of year in Israel, there's something about all doing the same thing together, building succahs, shopping for arba minim, cooking up a storm. Then, to all sit down together, at the same time is just amazing. My favorite is to hear singing from the surrounding succahs, or even just the clink of sliverware on china over table talk. It's indescribable.
The heat has put a little damper on the sleeping and eating aspect though. The night meals are beautiful, but if you have your succah in the heat of day like we do, the meals are kind of quick. BAW and the kids slept in the succah the first night, but they were so hot and uncomfortable, that was the only night. The stark contrast between here and R must be noted: where normally there is so much rain and cold that it's often hard to spend enough time out there, here we are battling the heat!
At Ein Gedi this week I was shmoozing with an older Israeli man. I made a comment about how crazy hot it was and he said, "Hu rak rotzei sh'anachnu ne'ehyeh ba'succot! Lo Ba'chutz ba'tiyulim!" Could be. Although those succahs get pretty hot, too...
So, YT was beautiful, and I am always worried that it will feel strange to keep "only" 1 day. But once it happens, it's so obvious that THIS is the right way, and 2 days suddenly just seem unnatural. Uncle S and Aunt D were with us, which was really, really nice, except that Aunt D was on her own for the second day; while we were out hiking in the bat cave, D was here with a friend having her second day meals :)
Motzei YT we went to the school Simchas Beis HaShoeva which was really nice. Lots of singing and dancing with Lenny Solomon. Girls had dancing inside too, and everybody really enjoyed. Especially me, cuz' we left the 3 little guys home sleeping ;)
Motzei Shabbos we got to head to our very first (this time ;) Hachnasas Sefer Torah for our shul. The kids loved it! It was beautiful to see the 2 Rabbi's of RS dancing together. Everyone was so happy, and there was such a beautiful feeling in the air. As BAW says, it's so nice to see the Rebbeim here with a mutual respect of each other, even though they are so very different. We've missed that.
Sunday we got up and out early and headed to Ashkelon Park Leumi which is a beautiful stretch of beach in Ashkelon. The beach was gorgeous and full of families. Uncle Y and Aunt C joined us later in the day, and it was all around a beautiful day. We got home later, put everyone in baths and bed and then BAW and I headed out to Aroma for some grown up time. I love going to restaurants with succahs!
Monday we rode with the extended Ws to Ein Gedi, which was spectacular. The ride down to the Dead Sea might even be more fun than the actual hike in Ein Gedi. The kids could not keep their eyes off the road: camels, Bedouin settlements, scenery like we have never seen before.There is nothing more spectacular that all within a 2 hour drive you hit big city, sudden desert, and then majestic mountains. Only in this country.
After an hour of mountains and desert, the oasis of Ein Gedi suddenly looms above you. The entrance to the park has been modernized since we have last been there, but to walk the trails where Dovid HaMelech hid from Shaul is awesome. The park is filled with wild life, waterfalls and trails. It was 110 degrees there that day, and I have never, EVER been hotter. It was crazy. But so beautiful that nothing could ruin the day.
That night BAW headed out with some of the bigger kids to the Beit Shemesh concert, but I stayed back, having had quite enough excitement for the day, thank you very much.
Yesterday we rested up in the early am and headed out for yet another trip to the Beit Guvrin caves about a 10 minute drive from here. It was a perfect "last day of chol hamoed trip", not a lot of walking, but awesome scenery! Saba joined us on this trip too, and it was so nice!
I had an "aliyah moment" on this trip, and it nearly had me in tears. Towards the end, we were sitting and letting the kids run and have fun. A Israeli couple in their early 40s with a bunch of kids struck up a conversation with us. When I told her that we had just arrived this summer, her reaction was incredible. She was SO happy for us, and so excited. She called her kids over and said, "See, this is what it is all about! People leaving their homes and coming here to E"Y because this is where we belong. This is what it is all about!" She went on and on, telling me that life here is hard, and that she has been here 42 years, and still there are days that are hard, and that living in Israel is not for the faint of heart. Then she gave me all of her phone numbers and told me that I should call her when I am frustrated or having a hard time, or just need someone to talk to. I could not get over this amazing woman. Mi K'amcha Yisrael!
Today we returned the car, and I am on the couch while BAW is cooking up a storm. Smells sooo good! That was YT in a nutshell, and I wish I could be more detailed, but it's almost YT here again...