Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Years in the Country

The last time I cried when a vacation ended was when I left Sinai about 1 1/2 years ago after spending a glorious 5 days there. It was paradise. I cried today too after coming home from spending Rosh Hashana on a friend's kibbutz. This kibbutz is far from paradise, let me tell you, but there is something special about spending a major holiday with friends whom you started out your life with in Israel (they were on the same absorption center as we were), not having had to spend hours on line in the supermarkets in the pre-holiday madness, not having had to slave over the stove for hours preparing elaborate holiday meals, etc. I just showed up with some Belgian chocolates and expensive vodka, three of my kids and Hubby.

There are only about 6 families and some renters on this kibbutz. It's tiny. But they have a guest house, which our friend improves on little-by-little each year, which we stay in and check for scorpions first before unpacking our bags.

We saw other guests staying for the holiday who we knew from previous years, as well as other kibbutz members who we are friendly with and the place always seems like a home away from home - tiny as it may be.

They have a synagogue on the premises - non-Orthodox - and you can go there in jeans and a t-shirt or you can dress up, if you wish - for the High Holiday services. Nothing like the States/Canada where high fashion for the high holidays is a Must for being seen in a synagogue. And the formal services take hours longer there. I was really grateful to take part in the services in this small, informal synagogue, without all the superficial trappings.

On the eve of Rosh Hashana, on Friday night after services, a family, originally from Bombay, India, had their father do a communal Rosh Hashana seder in the kibbutz dining room with leeks, string beans, pomegrantes, fish head, brains (don't ask), dates, and beets and special blessings said over each one. I spoke to the father the next day. I wanted to know about their origins. He and his wife looked totally Indian and I was curious. Were they originally Iraqis who came to India in the late 1800s, as many did? He said they were B'nei Israel, meaning they are a group that trace their origins from the first Temple era, before the great exile. So he is descended from one of the lost 10 tribes and not the two tribes of Yehuda and Binyamin as are the rest of us. I found chatting to him totally fascinating.

The tv room/clubhouse in the bomb shelter of the guest house has these torn, dirty comfortable chairs all over the room and they can really use an upgrade on furniture here, but it also has its charm. We all hang around there at midnight and watch some movie here and there - there's always someone watching tv like the lifeguard and his fluffy terrier dog. Or the time our entire family watched movies on that TV with other families during a chilly evening during one Passover holiday and we wrapped ourselves in blankets and put our feet up on each other. Another time I couldn't sleep around 3 in the morning, went down to the TV room and some of the kibbutz dogs came in to keep me company. Last night there were other guests around the same age as my kids and they were up all night there, drinking tea, coffee and smoking a nargila.

Last night we sat in the backyard of our friend's home, drinking wine, drinking coffee, drinking sodas, and saw a really bright shooting star that seemed so close. It made the evening seem so magical.

And who can forget lounging by the pool. My son played pool volleyball for hours. So today, when we left right after lunch, people were already by the pool and its crystal clear, clean waters together with the burning sun were tempting me to stay just a bit longer.

But we were nervous about traffic. If we waited until the end of the holiday, the traffic going south would be just horrendous and no one wanted to put Hubby in a foul mood. It would have taken us 5 hours or so to get back instead of 2 1/2 hours.

And very reluctantly, I headed back to our car, to Jerusalem, to our home in the city. Back to real life.

I think I would have wanted to prolong our New Year's vacation just a touch longer.

Happy New Year and Ramadan Kareem to all Jews and Moslems. You Christians will have to wait until December/January for your New Year's wishes.

1 comment: 2 cents said...

Happy New Year to you!

You have a great blog site here! :)