Thursday, July 24, 2014

Parashat Ma'sei- Oh The Places We Will Go


Eileh mas’ei B’nei Yisrael asher yatz’u mei’eretz Mitzraiyim l’tziv’otam b’yad Moshe v’Aharon. Vayichtov Moshe et motza’eihem l’mas’eihem al pi A’donai v’eileh mas’eihem l’motzaeihem.
…ki atem ba’im el-ha’aretz K’na’an zot ha’aretz asher tipol lakhem b’nachala...
These are the stages of the Children of Israel by which they went out from the land of Egypt as their congregations under the hand of Moshe and Aharon. And Moshe wrote their goings out in stages according to the word of A’donai, and these are the stages of their goings forth. (B’midbar 33:1-2)
…when you come into the land of Canaan, this will be the land that will fall to you as an inheritance… (B’midbar 34:2)
In school we learn about many places. We study maps and the stories of people from those places, and we think we know them. In life, we experience places. We walk the land; we talk to strangers, and, for better or for worse, we actually know them. Not only do we know them, but they become part of us. There’s a fun Facebook app that figures out your accent based on a series of questions about how you pronounce words. Unfortunately, it’s a US based app, so we have to guess about Canada. Rav Sean got a mix between New Jersey with a tad of southern thrown in. Facebook places my accent solidly in the northeast. However, my vocabulary has shifted. No longer do I say bathroom unless there is actually a bath or shower. I differentiate between university and college, and I waiver on the word pop. Most people are hard-pressed to figure out whence I hail based on my accent. Between Long Island (Yes, L.I. has it’s own distinct accent.), Boston, California, New York, Israel, Hawaii and North California, it’s a smooth blend. Although I toss in an occasional y’all, I’m told I use it incorrectly. Still, each place we have lived is a part of us.
As you all know, we began our summer in Israel. These are the stages of the Gorman family by which they went across the land of Israel. And they wrote their goings out in stages, and these are the stages of their goings forth.
We arrived in Israel Thursday, June 26. Lucking out, we were on the customs line with the person who had a problem, add in a long wait at the car rental counter to jet lag, and it was not a remarkable arrival. With exhausted children, we made our way to Kfar Adumim for showers and sleep. Once refreshed, we introduced the kids to… No, not the Kotel. No, not Ein Gedi. No, not Machane Yehuda. We introduced the kids to the mall at Maaleh Adumim. Once filled with water and ice cream, crankiness subsided. We checked out a few stores looking for sandals, and the kids discovered Steimetsky’s bookstore.
Friday was better. After a late start (a theme that would continue through the trip), we headed to the Kotel. Riding the new LRT to the Damascus Gate, we got a taste of the new and the old that is Israel. We wandered through the Arab Shuk to the Kotel (both the older space and the Masorti Kotel), then from the Old City to the new, and the kids learned that everything in Jerusalem is uphill. Sandal shopping! Rav Sean, Jesse and I bought Nimrod Retro, while Keren opted for a newer style of Naot. Gavi’s sandals would take a few more days. Olives, pickles, hummus and techina from Machane Yehuda accompanied us home. Shabbat meant sleep and a final end to jet lag, although that didn’t help us get out any earlier.
Sunday we were finally off and running. Hezekiah’s tunnel, another trip to Machane Yehuda (one of 3), Yemin Moshe, Moshiko (the best falafel & shwarma place in town), Yad Vashem, Har Herzl, Emek Refaim, Katamon to see our old apartment, the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Ir David, bumping into people we know, Tower of David, the Rova and Cardo, the Biblical Zoo, back to the Maaleh Adumim mall, Knesset, the beach in Tel Aviv, Ayalon Institute and Ammunition Museum, Masorti Kehillah Ramot Zion, visiting with friends, Latrun, Hezekiah’s tunnel again, Moshiko again, Steve’s Pack’s, Ben Yehuda Street and Yoel Solomon, techelet factory, the Burnt House, Yad Lakashish, Machane Yehuda again, Teddy Park, a bomb shelter, the Bible Lands Museum, and walking, walking, walking the streets of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas.
Three years ago, when we first began planning this trip, Jesse said to us, “You know, my love for Israel is really theoretical.” New York was real. Hawaii, North Carolina, Virginia, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, all these were real to him. But Israel was a place that existed only in pictures. His love of Israel existed purely in his mind. But now Israel is real to him. He drank the water, ate the food, and breathed the air. It’s inside of him, and it will never leave.
The Thursday before we left we were sitting in Teddy Park. Keren and Gavi were debating the merits of staying there another hour. Rav Sean asked me my opinion as I lay on the grass. “I am lying here, in the shadow of the Old City of Jerusalem at a brand new park breathing the air of Israel. For me, this is perfect.
Israel is not the matzav. It is our inheritance, and it is part of us.