Thursday, October 18, 2012

Acharei HaChagim - after the holidays

As long as a house is like yours, and as long as you work together with your brothers, not a house in the world will be able to compete with you, to cause you harm or to take advantage of you, for together you can undertake and perform more than any house in the world.
Nathan Meyer Rothschild

Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive.
George Bernard Shaw (a non-Jew)


The Israeli holiday season, which lasts for more than three weeks, ended over a week ago. I’m almost recovered. What’s hindering my full recovery is that I’m not quite recovered from last year’s holiday season (not to mention Pesach). I think there’s still some laundry hiding somewhere, and I still haven’t found the good spatula I put away where I would be able to find easily.
It’s probably in the laundry.

The holidays are a joyous time, filled with food, friends, and family. And shopping, and cooking and dirty dishes, and mounds of laundry.

And more shopping.




Our weekly purchases
Oh, and did I mention cooking?

 Two weeks before Rosh HaShana, cooking looks like this:


but, by Simchat Torah, three weeks later, it looks like this:



and that's only if you’re organized.

Whatever.
I’m not going to harp on the excessive amount of cooking I did (if there aren’t any leftovers, there isn't enough). Or the fact that I am now so traumatized from all the cooking I can’t yet boil water without breaking out into a sweat. And what did I do with that spatula?

The holidays are a time, as I said, of family. And what can we do. Families have to eat.

The weather was, surprisingly, lovely and not too hot, and on one of the intermediate days of Succot our family traveled to the northern part of the country to the town of Zichron Yaakov. Founded in 1882 by the Baron Edmund James de Rothschild and named after his father, Zichron Yaakov (in the memory of Jacob) is one of the oldest ‘modern’ towns in Israel. Many of the buildings built then are still in use today, and the town is full of boutiques, eateries, and history. It’s also home to Israel’s first winery, Carmel Wines – named after the nearby mountain. For a full history of Zichron see here .

We did the touristy things in Zichron; saw the Aaronson house (founders of the NILI ), walked through the park, and saw one of the oldest ‘modern’ shuls in Israel, Ohel Yaakov (named after that same father). Unfortunately, it wasn’t open and we couldn’t go inside, which apparently looks like this:



This is the outside. The clock has Hebrew Letters instead of numbers


We had a picnic at Ramat HaNadiv, just south of the city. Ramat HaNadiv is a large park/garden, named after our friend Baron Rothschild. HaNadiv means ‘the benefactor’ in Hebrew, and Rothschild was so nicknamed because of all the money he gave to the struggling Jewish community in the then southern part of the Ottoman Empire (it wasn’t called Israel and certainly not Palestine at the time). He’s also buried in the park, along with his wife Adélaïde/Batya (the town Mazkeret Batya – not that far from Beer Sheva is named after her), in a large cave-type mausoleum. We went in to pay respects, and found what seemed like dozens of kids in there whooping and yelling to make an echo.

It was a bit creepy, really.

Rothschild's grave/echo chamber.

According to legend, when his descendants decided to move the Baron’s remains to Israel in 1954 (he died in 1934) the French government took umbrage. They had considered Rothschild a Jewish Frenchman rather than the French Jew that Rothschild considered himself. Of course, money might have had something to do with it. (Not that I’m at all cynical.)

The main reason that we drove two and a half hours to see some old buildings and a dead guy’s monument to himself – beautiful and intriguing as it was (and it really was) – was to attend my son’s ‘tekes koomta’ (beret ceremony). Each brigade in the army has a different color beret, and the cadets are presented with their colored beret only after completing basic training and, in the case of combats troops, advanced training – altogether about 7 months. Advanced training concludes with a 58 km hike in full gear ending at the top of Mazada.

The ceremony took place in Pardes Hanna (named, coincidentally, after Hannah Rothschild – from the same family) about 10 km south of Zichron at the NaCHaL (which stands for Noar Chalutzi Lochem, or Fighting Pioneer Youth) memorial to their fallen.

About 300 awfully handsome young men received their berets that evening, from 42 different countries, including most of the English-speaking ones. Families came from all over the country, most carrying bags, boxes, packets, hampers, pots, sacks, crocks, chests, cauldrons, and crates full of food. We are a people who love to eat.

I brought cookies. AND some apples. I told you, I break into sweats just looking at the kitchen.

We stood on the hillside and watched my son – by far the best-looking one there – receive his beret (a bright green for the NaChaL Brigade) from his smiling commanding officer, a chap his own age, who had received his own beret less than a year before. We waved and clapped, hooted and whistled with the rest of the crowd. We were quite a rowdy bunch.

The whole ceremony only took about half an hour, including a speech from the most appropriately-named officer in the army, Yisrael Shomer, the commander of the training base.

The Guardian of Israel (Shomer Yisrael) neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalms 121:4)


It ended with a rousing rendition of HaTikvah.
Of course, by then I had cried myself blind.

I cannot understand how someone (me) can be so proud, and so nauseous at the same time.



SO proud





Yet so nauseous

Now that the chagim are over, it’s time to do all those things we put off until after the chagim, such as defrost the overused fridge, unpack that last box of stuff from when we moved 10 years ago, and start active army service. (That last one is not physically me, just emotionally….)

Maybe I’ll even find that spatula.