Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Shalom Kita Aleph

You're off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!
-Dr. Seuss


It was only a few years ago that my oldest child began ‘kita aleph’ – or grade one, as we called it in the Old Country.

Kita is Hebrew for both ‘grade’ and ‘class’, and instead of numbers (one, two, three), in Israel, the grades are counted in letters (aleph, bet, gimel).
Entering kita aleph is a big deal here. In many schools, the little ones are welcomed in grandiose ceremonies organized by the bigger kids; the mayor makes a surprise visit to some school to say hello; and there are signs all over the country saying "Shalom, Kita Aleph!" 



The kids are excited - for a day or two at least - until they get tired of waking up early, of sitting, of standing, of getting dressed in clean clothes, of not being able to watch Sam the Fireman whenever they want. 

More traumatized, of course, are the parents. They know for a fact that it's all downhill after kindergarten. 

A few days before my oldest entered kita aleph, we were given a typed list of items that she needed for the first day of school. 
At the top of the list was the word kalmar (קלמר). 
I stared blankly at the page. At that point, I had been in Israel about 6 or 7 years; my Hebrew was passable, though not great, and I could generally navigate in most daily situations. 
But I had never seen the word kalmar before. Of course, I had never had a kid enter kita aleph before, and I myself had never been in kita aleph. I had been in grade one. And in grade one, we didn't have a kalmar

The kid's father didn't know what a kalmar was either. Apparently, engineers don't need kalmarim (pl) for their work. 
I looked in a dictionary but it wasn't listed. I was beginning to panic. Kita aleph was starting in a few days and already I was failing out. 

I finally discovered what it was by seeing an ad in the newspaper selling back-to-school items. 

Fast-forward a few years, and my grandson is starting kita aleph. I asked him, "do you have a kalmar?" 

The kid's kalmar has Sam the Fireman on it. 



I couldn't, for the life of me, remember the word in English. 

Lots of things are different this time around. 

My Hebrew is better and my English is worse. 

The teachers used to be older than me. Now they aren't. I went to pick up my grandson's school books before school started.  I had been at the Bar Mitzvah of the bearded teacher who was responsible for distributing the books. The beard had touches of grey in it.

Today, the kids all have phones. They are on the list of required school supplies, way before a kalmar. When my oldest began kita aleph, we barely had a phone in the house



These days, instead of meeting friends in the playground with a supply of bamba, we meet on Facebook, whatsapp, and, sometimes, the bathroom at work. I drink a lot more coffee. Sometimes, the coffee is even hot. 

There are also 7,285 different kinds of coffee available today in the HolyLand. 


Then
Now

It's a whole different world out there, a whole different country too. But that's ok, because I'm a whole different person. I'm no longer a person floundering in a strange place. Today, I'm a person with roots; with a past and a future in our Land. 

Shalom kita aleph
May you be blessed to learn so that you love your Heritage, your Land, and your People, in peace. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Shma Yisrael

Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here
-Sue Monk Kidd

There is not greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you
-Maya Angelou




I found a long-lost cousin.
To be more exact, the long-lost cousin (LLC) found one of my not lost cousins (NLC) and I asked about it.
This LLC wasn't so much a long-lost cousin, as much as a cousin I hadn't known existed.
It's a long story.

And then the father of the NLC (the F-NLC), whom LLC had found, who also wasn't lost and I knew existed, contacted me - this was not a coincidence - to tell me that he had put together a family history. Was I interested?
Indeed!!!
I never knew much about my father's side of the family except that, besides his siblings, he didn't have any.
At least, that's what I had been told.

F-NLC gave me all sorts of information about my family's history; the names of my great-grandparents (I wasn't even aware I had great-grandparents), where my grandparents were born, where my grandfather might have learned in Yeshiva, and the name of the Rabbi who married them. In addition, he gave me the names of more long-lost cousins I hadn't known existed.
I have been reeling.
It's been hard to digest all this.

All my life, from the time I was old enough to ask until he died, my father adamantly and continually refused to talk about his childhood. "It was hard," he would say, "Nothing good would come of it".

I have spent the last few days googling.
I google mapped where my grandparents were born, and the town where my grandfather might, or might not, have learned in Yeshiva. The names were all in Polish and Ukrainian, so it wasn't as easy as I would have liked.
I googled names, and dates, and histories of places and people and events in or adjacent to the towns and villages where my family originated.

(What did we do before Google?)

I read of places I had never heard of a week ago, of people I did not know had any relationship to me. I looked up names, I stared at faces, I virtually visited buildings, I even enjoyed virtual views.

I wanted to understand what my grandparents early life had been like.
It wasn't as hard as one would think. There are plenty of pictures, plenty of stories, plenty of historical accounts online.
The stories are all basically the same.
The Jews were invited to settle in the town by the Prince/Duke/High Priest/Whomever. Alternately treated well or persecuted, by the turn of the last century, Jews made up a majority of most of the towns and villages I googled over the past week.

The endings of the stories were also basically the same. By 1945, most of the towns and villages I googled had a Jewish population of exactly zero.
Nada.
No more.
Wiped out.
Obliterated.
Exterminated.
Murdered.

Gone.

Last year, I wrote about the village Rava-Rushka, where my mother was born. The towns and villages I read about this week were roughly in the same vicinity, and shared the same history, and the same ending.


Suchowola monument to the Victims of the Holocaust, in Treblinka

Two other events occurred over the past week that gave me pause.

The first event was the murderous shooting event (what we here in Israel would call a 'pigua', but the Americans have not yet found a word to describe the atrocity) at the Chabad Synagogue in Poway, California.

After the shooting in Poway, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, Rav of the Synagogue and injured in the attack, wrote an editorial in the New York Times in which he declared that just because he was targeted because he was a Jew, he would not back down. In fact, he said, it's more important now more than ever, to act even more 'Jewishly'.

"From here on in I am going to be more brazen. I am going to be even more proud about walking down the street wearing my tzitzit and kippah, acknowledging God’s presence. And I’m going to use my voice until I am hoarse to urge my fellow Jews to do Jewish. To light candles before Shabbat. To put up mezuzas on their doorposts. To do acts of kindness. And to show up in synagogue — especially this coming Shabbat."

The second event was the death of Rabbi Menahem Mendel Taub, Rebbe of Kaliv. He was 96 years old at the time of his passing. The reason I initially heard of his death was because his funeral procession caused traffic problems at the entrance to Jerusalem and my husband cancelled his planned visit to the city because of the traffic. Rav Taub's life and funeral were given wide coverage in the Israeli press, and though I had been shamefully ignorant of his existence - like I had been of my own relatives - I read many articles and learned a great deal about him after his death, much like I did of my own relatives.


A survivor of Josef Mengele's horrifying 'medical' experiments, Rav Taub dedicated his life to Holocaust Education and Jewish outreach. He was renown for reciting the 'Shma' prayer at Holocaust memorial events and encouraging others to do the same. He emphasized the spiritual resistance during the Holocaust, and the need for it today.

Today, the Jewish world is commemorating Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day. Israel and Israelis takes the day very seriously. The Holocaust is what happens when there is no Jewish State.

The Jewish world outside Israel is rapidly disappearing. Eastern Europe and Northern Africa and the Middle-Eastern countries (outside of Israel) are pretty much Judenfrei - Jew-free.

Western Europe and the Americas have their myriad problems.

It is up to us, the survivors, to remember those who were viciously taken, and what was savagely destroyed.
It is up to us to share our stories, to keep adding links to the chainno matter how hard the stories are to relate, no matter how much you think that 'nothing good would come out of it', no matter how bored the kids are, no matter how much you think it doesn't matter.

Share your stories. All of them. If you don't know the stories, ask someone who does. Don't let the stories get lost. (Hint - I'm not talking only about surviving the Holocaust.)

However, even more important than remembering the horror and the terror and the absolute evil, is to replace it.
We must replace the Jewish world that has disappeared, by - in the words of Rav Goldstein - 'doing Jewish'. Above all, however, we must replace the evil that engulfed us, is still engulfing us, with Godliness, by bringing God into our lives and into the world, as Rav Taub encouraged, even at the most difficult of times.

Share more, give more, pray more, reach out more.
And walk just a bit straighter. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Of Peelers and Tweezers

The Exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year, and in every day.
-Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

As the Jewish holiday of Passover (Pesach) approaches, more and more work colleagues are taking random days off work to 'clean' their homes. Pesach cleaning in Israel doesn't necessarily mean washing the floor. It means cleaning out clothes closets, washing the windows inside and out, even on the 52nd floor, scrubbing between the tiles with a toothbrush, painting the entire house from top to bottom, getting a manicure and a 750 NIS haircut, and replacing your entire wardrobe. 
The essence of the holiday is having clean filters in the air conditioners and driers. 
I don't get carried away with cleaning for Pesach. Don't get me wrong, I clean out cabinets, and sweep and wash behind the beds. Once a year, I figure, it's got to get done, so why not now. But I never get down on my knees and pick dirt out of the carpet with tweezers.

I have more important things to do to get ready for Pesach.

There are rabbis and others out there who claim that one can prepare for the holiday in less than a day. I honestly don't understand that. These rabbis are not taking into consideration the sudden urgent need to buy sneakers for the kid who has a tiyul with his youth group because they are off school.

Or the other kid who has decided that this year he's going clean out his own closet (I never do it) and get rid of EVERYTHING. Getting rid, however, means putting the torn sweatshirts and army socks, the collections of stickers and election posters, used notebooks, and birthday cards all in the living room 'in case someone else wants it'. If I'm lucky, the kid will haul the stuff back into his closet because it's 'good stuff - it's a waste to throw it all out'. But usually, it just stays in the living room, and I have to clean around it, which, of course is more time consuming.

Also not taken into consideration is the iron / vacuum cleaner / washing machine / car that simply and annually stop working. The technician can't come to fix it, the mechanic doesn't have the part, and the store just sold out. You have to walk to the river / wash the clothes by hand in the stream / bang the wrinkles out against a rock. Then you have to walk back home and sweep the carpet with a broom. This can be very time consuming - especially the walking to a river as the nearest one to my home is in Egypt. And that one has a reputation of turning to blood at this time of year. The rabbis never seem to think of that scenario. (I might be exaggerating here - I never vacuum, so I didn't even notice when the vacuum cleaner died - presumably of loneliness.)

The rabbis also never had to go to twelve different stores to find the right peeler that not only perfectly fits your hand, but whose blade is strong enough not to break after peeling 3 carrots - which is what happened to me last year.

Simply inviting people to your seder can be a week's work. Every person you invite - especially your own kids - mumbles some sort of answer, which in fact can be translated into "I don't know. I want to wait to see if anyone better invites me." You have to ask over and over again so that you can plan menus, make shopping lists, buy the suitable items.

To ensure the maximum stress, after everyone finally gives a definitive answer - one way or another - and you go shopping and start preparing, the person who said that he's not coming calls to say that the other, better, invitation fell through, so can he come after all? and can he bring a friend? and reminds you that he just became vegetarian, and the friend is allergic to wine and paprika.

Of course, in the end, everything gets done. The house is clean (maybe not enough for your mother-in-law, but it's kosher for Pesach), the table is set (with 6 different glasses from 6 different sets because every year you break another glass or two) the food is prepared (even if I didn't make that chocolate tart with a chocolate chip crust), and the guests show up (bringing another friend and his sister, who doesn't eat nuts.)


The weather is lovely, so it doesn't really matter that the air conditioner doesn't work because I forget to clean out the filter.

And then, the handle of the peeler I carefully chose breaks.




Monday, March 18, 2019

The You're from __? Do you know__? Game

In Jewish history there are no coincidences.
-Elie Wiesel


Several years ago, I worked as the assistant to the assistant to the President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. It was actually a pretty boring job, but it did give me an opportunity to meet many very interesting people.
One day, I was called into the President's office to meet some visitors to the University. My boss wasn't with me, and I didn't understand why I was invited on my own. It had never happened before.
The reason became apparent fairly quickly. Sitting with the President of BGU was the Ambassador of the Old Country and his wife. After a few sentences, the connection became even more apparent. They were from the same city as I. Normally, when I meet someone from my town, I ask what school they had gone to, what shul they hadn't attended, or what youth group they had belonged to. But I wasn't going to play with the AMBASSADOR, who, I assumed, would not have heard of the very small Jewish school I had attended for 12 years. The conversation petered out, and I was sent back to my desk.

When I got home, I wrote an email to my sister and told her whom I had met. She wrote back that yeh, the Ambassador (who was, in fact, Jewish) had married a classmate of hers. In the end, not only would they have heard of my school, they had attended it.
I learned my lesson.
Always, always play Jewish Geography, aka the You're from? do you know? game. 

I can often find acquaintances in common with the remotest of people, sometimes even friends, but once in a long while you find family.

A few months ago, we were at a friends' house for Friday night dinner. These friends had also invited another couple whom I knew, but wasn't really that friendly with, and another man whom we did not know at all and to whom we needed to be introduced. As always, I was introduced by my name, and where I was from.  That's how it's done among immigrants - no matter how long you've been in a place. The woman I knew, but with whom I wasn't that friendly - let's call her  Liz - said "I didn't know you were from that city!!!!!!!!!!"
"I had an uncle who was married to a woman who's brother lived there for years! He was a rabbi there," she told me. 
That rabbi has a son who is married to my first cousin.
Obvs.
Liz and I are now, not only FB friends, but close family. Because her either maternal or paternal - I'm not sure which - uncle's wife's brother's son is married to my mother's brother's daughter. 

While the relationship is not always so close, sometimes you can discover family history. 
Recently a young olah  - let's call her Gisele - from some European Old Country came into my office at BGU (not the President's office. I've moved on from that job to one that is far more boring). We chatted a bit while she was waiting to go into a meeting. We hadn't ever met before but chatting to strangers is one of the few things I do well. I asked her if she had family in Israel. No, she didn't, and she told me how hard it has been without any family support. She had come all alone. 
"Yeh, I understand, I also came alone. It was a million years ago, but I was alone for a long time", I told her. 
She asked where I was from.
OMG!!!! was her answer when I told her city and Old Country. 
HER BEST FRIEND in the tiny Jewish community in the village Gisele is from is from there!!!!!
And while I didn't know the girl (Gisele is probably 30 years younger than I), I certainly knew her parents. 
It was 9:00 AM Beer Sheva time, 8:00 AM in European Old Country. But this didn't stop Gisele from whatsapping her BEST FRIEND "GUESS WHO I JUST MET!!!!"
When Gisele came out of the meeting she had come to the office for, she made straight for my desk. 
"She knows you!!! and your family!!!! and she went to school with your brother's kids!!!!!!! And some of them made aliya!!!"
She stopped. "But I guess you knew that last part already."
I nodded yes. 
She laughed, said she'll come visit me again, and left. 
The encounter totally made my day. 

These kinds of things happen all the time. 

The son of our friends of 34 years is engaged to the daughter of friends of my daughter-in-law-of-one-year's sister's husband's family. We will see them at the wedding. 

A friend from shul's mother's uncle was the man my High School back in the Old Country was named after. 

My daughter sublet her apartment in Beer Sheva to the son of my cousin's neighbors.  

My current desk mate went to primary school with my desk mate from when I was at the aformentioned President's office. They hadn't seen each other in nearly 50 years until they went to a reunion of their school and spent the evening talking about me. 
Obvs. 



Monday, February 25, 2019

The Importance of Being Lit

I know your head aches. I know you're tired. I know your nerves are as raw as meat in a butcher's window but think what you're trying to accomplish - just think what you're dealing with. The majesty and grandeur of the English language, it's the greatest possession we have. 
-George Bernard Shaw

I do not live in an English-speaking country. Many, if not most, of the people living here do speak some level of English, but my day-to-day transactions are not done in my mother tongue.
Therefore, my English speaking abilities have become somewhat stunted; I use the same language today that I used when I did live in an English-speaking country, a few hundred years ago. 
I try to keep up, but I have no way of knowing if my usage is correct or even still in vogue. I taught my kids the word 'groovy', which they thought was hilarious. I used 'gag me with a spoon' way past its run. To the younger generation, I probably sound like Shakespeare. Forsooth, as they said in the Old Country. 

Because of social media and netflix, learning current jargon isn't too difficult. I can lol with the best of them, and often accuse my kids (and have been accused by them) of being hangry. I also just learned that lit is the new hip. 

What I find difficult though, is not the new vocabulary, but the change in the parts of speech. 'Woke', for example, is no longer a verb, but rather an adjective. 'Are you woke? Yes, I'm woke, nobody is more woke than me!!'
It's the change from noun to verb that frazzles me the most, I think. I used to give gifts, but now I gift gifts. Sometimes, but not nearly often enough, I'm gifted gifts. (This really ugly vase was gifted to me by people to whom it was gifted.)
A friend is no longer a person. To friend is to add someone to your social network. (A mass murderer just friended me. I don't know how he got my name.)
Or trend. How can a trend trend? But they do! Orange ski pants are trending!! Brocolli is trending!!! Unfortunately, correct English is not trending. 

The word I have the most trouble with is adult.
Heaven knows it's difficult enough to be an adult. Now I've discovered that I have to adult. Adulting is not acting grown up and mature (that ship sailed long ago), but to do things that adults are expected to do, like pay bills, iron clothes, eat right, and bring back the library books on time. 

It's hard enough not to stamp my feet (especially when I'm hangry), or giggle when someone asks under where?.  Now, I have to file taxes on time. And I'm not even American.  

This is where I draw the line. 
Whoever made up these new words and rules is a fopdoodle. 
Instead of adulting, I'm going to fudgel. 

I'm sure you think I'm a gnashgab, but it's hard to keep up with new words when all you hear around you is blather. 

I'm putting on my groovy pjs and going bedward. 
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Never Have I Ever... Worried

Four in the morning, crapped out
Yawning
Longing my life away
I'll never worry, Why should I?
It's all gonna fade

-Paul Simon, Still Crazy After All These Years

Don't Worry, Be Happy

-Bobby McFerrin

What, me worry?
-Alfred E. Neumann

I received a message from my daughter one mid-morning, last week.
"I did something to my neck. I can't turn my head at all".
"I see", I messaged back. "How bad is it?"
"It's pretty bad. I'm going to a chiropractor now and see if he can help."

"No," I said. "I meant is this a 15 minute worry, an hour worry, or a full day worry? If it's only 15 minutes, I can fit it in in about an hour, but if it's an hour worry, I'll only have time this afternoon. A full day worry will simply have to wait until next week. I'm pretty full this week."
"It's certainly not a day's worry, but I can't decide if you should worry now for a short time, or put it off and worry longer. I'll let you know".



I am not a big worrier. My kids will laugh, but it's true. Worrying doesn't accomplish anything, so what's the point?
Not being a big worrier, however, doesn't mean I never worry. I do, but I'm careful about it.

I organize my worry time by topic, severity, and relationship to the worryee.

Let's take, for example, cauliflower. The price of cauliflower has been ridiculously high, and I haven't bought it for a long time. Because cauliflower is a vegetable and not chocolate, because there are other things to buy, and because I'm not related - even distantly - to cauliflower, I spend a minimum of time worrying about it. Either I spend a few minutes before I go shopping worrying about what I will buy instead of cauliflower, or a few minutes in the store itself worrying about the cauliflower farmers who must be going through a hard time if they've raised the prices so much (I am not aware that I am related to any cauliflower farmers either, so again, minimal time).

While waiting for my daughter to update me on her condition, I looked over my schedule for the day.
It wasn't a heavy day. I had started the day with the daily momentary worry that I had forgotten to buy pitot for my kids' lunches. (I hadn't.) Then there was the slightly longer worry of whether or not I had anything clean to wear to work and if it would match. (Yes, and yes; who says miracles don't happen?)  I even had enough time this morning while driving to work to get through several mandatory, generic worries: will my kid pass her math test today/will my grandson eat lunch today/will the level of the Kinneret ever pass the lower red line/will there be a worthy candidate to vote for in the upcoming Israeli election? (No for four...)

All sorts of worries pop up during work hours: will I have to answer the phone and speak to someone/will someone ask me to do something I don't know how to do/will someone not ask me to do something because they think I don't know how/will my soul die just a bit more today from boredom and lack of creativity? (Yes for four.....)

But all these worries take up only moments of time, and can be broken up into slots. I usually have plenty of time to worry about the important things: the weather, the laundry, has the leftover challah gone moldy yet, and will I have clean clothes for tomorrow?

Worries can be personal, local, and national. I usually take care of the personal first - the aforesaid laundry, pitot, lunches, and answering the phone.
The local worries take a bit longer: how long will my drive to work be when all these sky scrapers going up are populated? Is the Chinese take-out place still open? When will the army's move south be completed, and how will that affect my drive to work? Does climate change mean that the winters in Beer Sheva are going to be wetter or drier?

And then there are the National Worries. National Worries can be pretty heavy: Trauma, rockets, reserve duty, rainfall, the price of cauliflower. The worst of these are the worries that cause a dichotomy. I worry there's not enough rainfall, but at the same time I worry about the soldiers outside in the rain. And then (when I have time), I worry about the soldiers' mothers who are all worrying also. This can be quite wearying.

Because none of these things are in my hands, I manage to slip national worries into small pockets of time - usually just before I go to sleep.

My greatest worry, of course, is the unplanned-for worry; the worry that comes up when I don't have time to worry. A child's sudden fever, a flat tire on the car, war breaking out, these things can really disrupt my worry schedule.

It's a good thing I'm not a worrier, so I usually have plenty of time to worry about the unforeseen.




(Also, I worry about the anonymous creator of the above meme who made a typo. Luckily, as far as I know, I'm not related to the meme-maker, so I'm not too worried.)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Friends we haven't met yet

Hospitality: making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.
– Justine Vogt


I have a bunch of kids, the numbers seem to keep changing. This includes a bunch of sons. The youngest son lives at home. For the sake of this story, I am going to call him Alvin.
Alvin has a million friends. He's always had a million friends. He has friends from Primary School, from High School, from his Youth Group, from Yeshiva, from the Army, and now from College.
He has one friend I will call Theodore. (These aliases are to protect the innocent - me.)

Theodore is a good friend. I think he's from the Youth Group group of friends, but I don't remember exactly. He's a sweet kid and also has a million friends. After spending a year or so in Germany on 'shlichut', he has a bunch of friends in Germany. He has international friends, something that Alvin does not have. Alvin has an international family, but Theodore has a brother in Los Angeles, so on that score, they are even. 

I digress. 

Back to Germany.

One of Theodore's German friends has a friend from America. I don't know where in America. I don't know if that friend is currently in America. In fact, I know nothing at all about the friend in America, including the name, except that the friend in America has a friend in Germany. This is all I know. 

One day, early last week, the American, whom, at this point, I will call Simon - but it could be Simonne - called the German friend (henceforth called Hans, but could be Helga - really I know nothing at all about these people) and said that he, Simon, wanted to spend a Shabbat in Beer Sheva and see what the community was like. Did Hans, perchance, know anyone in Beer Sheva who could help out? 

YES!! exclaimed Hans (it might have been Ja!!! or even Jawohl!!!! - I wasn't there). He did know someone in Beer Sheva!! Hans immediately got in touch with Theodore. 
"Do you know", Hans asked Theodore, "anyone who could put some American friends up for Shabbat in Beer Sheva where they could meet other Americans and learn about the community?"

"Yes!!!" said Theodore (since I do know Theodore, I know he doesn't speak in capital letters - also, there are no capital letters in Hebrew), "I do know an American!!!"

Theodore immediately got in touch with my son Alvin. "You're American!!" Theodore said to Alvin (he's not), "do you know anyone who can put Simon/Simonne up for Shabbat?"

"MOOOOOOOM", yelled Alvin, "You're American (I'm not), do you know anyone who can put some Americans - I don't know how many, I don't know if they are girls or boys, I don't know if they are mass murderers - up for Shabbat?"

I knew that Simon and family (turns out it was a young husband and wife) would not want to stay with us, because, well, we're old and grumpy, and they wanted to meet the younger and rapidly growing community of Beer Sheva. And so, I put up a post on Facebook; would anybody be interested in hosting friends of friends of a friend of my son for Shabbat. 

Within 12 minutes I had six responses. Within half an hour I had another 5. They were all "Yes!! we'd love to have them!" "We don't have room to sleep, but I hope they can come for a meal!" "We're free this weekend!!" etc. etc. Within half an hour, I had secured a place, which I verbally confirmed later. Nonetheless, the offers continued to pour in. "If they don't mind old foagies, they are welcome!!" "I always make a big cholent, so we would love to have your friends!!! 
There was also a stream of questions I couldn't answer: where are they from, how long are they visiting, do they have any dietary restrictions, do they smoke, and are they mass murderers? (if they were, I suppose the potential hosts planned to send their kids to the grandparents.)

I was pleased, but not unduly surprised, at the massive outpouring of hospitality shown by my fellow Beer Shevites. Nonetheless, that cascade of warmth and generosity and friendliness left me humbled. 
The hospitality of Avraham Avinu took root in the city he founded, and in which I live 3500 years later, and is alive and well. 

What they say is true.
Southern hospitality, there's nothing like it. 
Even if you're not American.