Safe Arrival

What brachah (blessing, a Jewish prayer-form recognizing the presence of blessings in our lives and acknowledging that their source is outside of us) do you say upon taking your first shower in water from Israel?  Water is a big deal in this parched, dry land.  The fact that it is maintaining so many people (always ask: at whose expense?), that you’re here getting the grime of travel off of you after the 10-hour+ airplane flight, is worthy of notice.  Abraham brought washing water for his guests’ dusty feet.  Sing Ush’avtem Mayim, perhaps?  (Draw forth water in joy from the wells of deliverance — can anybody find the source?  I’m not getting it via Google and I’m too tired to keep at it.)

Staying with my cousins in K’far Hess, a moshav north of Tel Aviv.  Maybe 220 families, but only about 20 farming operations remain.  Here, as in the United States, land is constantly being sold off for housing development, and farms are increasingly run by corporations.  Here, however, the land was given as gift, or to be held in trust; so there’s an element of betrayal felt when the private “owners” profit and it is converted from agricultural use.  The orange groves that used to be behind my cousins’ house were uprooted and there are brush piles that used to be trees.

Simple things.  “Who’s working those fields?” “Probably Palestinians,” which I had guessed because one woman was wearing a headscarf (gotta re-learn the correct name for it).  This becomes a conversation about the Palestinian woman who used to clean house for my cousin; my cousin says she lives “outside Israel,” across the Green Line, in the Territories … so many ways to refer to them, and what you call them tells you a lot about the speaker … They maintained a friendship and visited back and forth until it became too hard to cross the border.  But when my cousin went to her house, all the men over 13 left.  They could not/would not sit with Israeli Jews, who were the enemy.  “If there is to be peace,” my cousin told her friend, “it will be because our children grow up as friends.”  But it’s very very hard to do that.

Simple things.  The grocery store at a nearby kibbutz (look closely for the Hebrew), and eggs on my cousin’s counter, date-stamped for freshness.  People are people — but the multiplicity of experiences broadens us, freshens our perceptions and our appreciation.

Israeli chocolate milk

Honey-Nut Cheerios with Hebrew on the boxIsraeli yogurt

Date-stamped for freshness


Note that the eggs are stamped with the pointy end down.  All the egg producers (some of whom are Jewish) that I’ve met in the last 3 years agree that eggs are properly packed pointy-end down.  Around the world, it’s apparently the same.

Simple things:  Shabbat in Israel with family.  Shabbat Shalom.