Yom Ha’tzmaut

May 7th, 2008 § 2 comments

Warning: This is one of those long self-indulgent posts probably most interesting (or not!) to family.

So today is the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence, which isn’t normally a topic I’d blog about (as I, last post excepted, do tend to shy away from anything political int his blog), however…

Our synagogue had a big shindig tonight (and guess–out of the hundreds of people there tonight–who was the absolute first on the dance floor? Can you say Dancing Pie and her buddy Dancing Jasmine?) and I submitted some photos for the slide show that are just way too embarrassing to not share with you guys. Actually, this first trip was in a good phase. One of the few. That’s me and my cousin Oliver in Sfat. That trip was–gasp!–thirty years ago, and it’s easy to remember because we were there for Israel’s 30th independence day (and for those doing the math, I was not quite ten at the time). Oliver and I traveled with my grandparents on a UJA (United Jewish Appeal) trip that was done in a first-class kind of style. I can’t be sure, but I do seem to recall staying at the King David hotel, which was pretty fancy shmancy. Before the trip, my grandmother deemed that my fashion sensibility was lacking, so she insisted that we go to Jordan Marsh for a complete new wardrobe. Even then I wasn’t a fan of shopping and I didn’t completely get why my clothes all had “G”s on them (my grandmother apparently was a fan of Givenchy at the time). Things I remember most about the trip: taking turns with my cousin wearing my grandfather’s gold necklace; being terrified on a camel ride, which my grandfather found humorous; a man on the street in Sfat making a tin picture of a deer for me and my grandfather tipping him and telling me, “Nothing’s for free in this world”; getting a plastic hammer that made noise when you bonked people on the head with it during the independence celebrations, but I was too short and I hit someone–hard–with the plastic part; dancing the hora in the streets with my grandmother; and the way my grandmother would smile coyly and say, “Oh no! I’m not their mother. I’m their grandmother,” as if she didn’t know people would be confused by the fact that we called her Ema, which is Hebrew for Mom.

Oh dear lord, there it is!! Yes, I did dress like this as a sixteen year old (that’s me on the left). The scary thing is, even dressed like this, I never had a problem dating. Or maybe it’s because I dressed like this I never had a problem dating? Who knows? [Side note: I recently had reason to go through my high school yearbook. Dear God, we were a John Hughes movie come to life!] Anyhoo, when I was sixteen, I convinced my grandparents to send me to High School in Israel (not that it was all that hard–my parents are well known for their Jewish apathy and my grandparents were desperate to get to us grandkids any way they could. I distinctly remember my grandfather saying to me at Oliver’s bar mitzvah, “You know, if you had a bat mitzvah, you could get all these presents, too! You’d get a lot of money if you had one”). I have extremely mixed feelings in retrospect about the High School in Israel program: there was a more than fair amount of brainwashing involved, however, it was one of the first school programs to truly engage me. I’m sure you’ll all be shocked to hear that I was not a stellar student as a youth (my best buddy in high school, Eric, who I should say went to Princeton and is now a cardiologist, wrote in my yearbook [as I just rediscovered] “Sometimes your frivolity annoys me and sometimes your irrational moodiness drives me crazy, but I love you anyway,” but I digress), and High School in Israel was the first time I realized that studying could actually be interesting. Some of what I remember about the trip is: the eggs. The damn hardboiled eggs. I was a vegetarian, and those stupid eggs were pretty much all I could eat. I remember Shlomo who sold falafels from a cart out back, but they weren’t always in the budget. I remember not quite grasping my budget because at the time the Israeli currency was spiraling out of control and something that was 100 shekels at the beginning of the summer was 500 shekels at the end. I remember the cute Israeli soldiers who lived on campus who seemed so old to me; thinking that the hike up Masada was incredibly long and hard; going out with my twentysomething cousin to a bunch of bars and parties (no drinking age in Israel) and while we were on our way to the umpteenth party at about 3 or 4 a.m., telling him I just couldn’t take it and I had to go to sleep, and his surprise and disappointment at having to go home early; sitting in the desert and having a teacher tell me, “This is where Abraham buried his foreskin”; and the Zionist zeal that I was indoctrinated with, to the point where I returned home and told my parents that I was going to grow up to become an economist and save the Israeli economy.

Shall we flash forward twelve years? I’m not an economist. I didn’t save Israel. I do have an MFA in creative writing, a boyfriend who thinks we should become engaged, and no real prospects for an actual paying job. So what’s a girl to do? Run off and join a kibbutz! Well, not exactly join, but volunteer at for four weeks. Hmmm, make that six weeks. As long as I’m here, let’s just make that two, no four, okay six and a half months. That trip was a whirlwind and not something easy to summarize here. It’s been the fodder for plenty of writing (one of my favorite essays on it appeared here). I picked kiwis, managed (almost) irrigation lines, decided that the boyfriend was not for me (aren’t you happy I went on that trip, Adam!), drank lots of beer, realized just what babies those Israeli soldiers are, gave up being a vegetarian, traveled, wrote, figured out my life, and generally had the Israel experience I was looking for.

And now? Now even that trip is eleven years past. Now I’ve shed the glasses (yea, Lasik!), lost the hummus-olive-oil-labanah pounds (yea, Weight Watchers!), married, procreated, and am planning my fourth (but never final!) trip to Israel, this time with family in tow. And who knows? Maybe for Israel’s 90th independence day, Pie will be posting on her blog: “And this is from my first trip to Israel, when I was three. I was in a good phase then, still with the curly hair and chubby cheeks…”

Tagged , , , ,

§ 2 Responses to Yom Ha’tzmaut"

  • OP says:

    Thanks for helping recover the memory of us swapping the gold necklace. . . I wonder whatever happened to that?

  • Bettina says:

    Who knew kiwis grew in bunches?!?

    You were stylin’ under Ema’s fashion sense. OP had quite the snazzy duds himself.

    And it is hard to believe that dating was never an issue with those classic striped shorts!

What's this?

You are currently reading Yom Ha’tzmaut at the pieces of my life.


  • Who I Am

    I read, I write, I occasionally look to make sure my kids aren't playing with matches.

    My novel, MODERN GIRLS will be coming out from NAL in the spring of 2016.

    I mostly update the writing blog these days, so find me over there.

    More about me and my writing.

  • Where to Find Me

    jenny at jennyandadam.com


    Follow Me on Pinterest


    Writing Blog: Jennifer S. Brown

    Photo Blog: jPhone Jenny

  • Archives

  • Meta