The last two days have been spent with more of our extensive family in Israel.
On Friday, we travelled to Elad, which is close to Petach Tikva.
There was a bit of a family get together with my wife’s cousin’s family. Their daughter, who is charedi, has a very small apartment with four children. It is quite high up and there were views across to Tel Aviv in the distance.
The kids don’t speak English. I was immediately roped in to a game which is a cross between Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders. The purpose of the game was to collect all you need for Shabbat. When landing on certain squares you have to pick a card which teaches you how to do mitzvot (good deeds) and sometimes has an instruction, like skip one round.
As it would have taken me several minutes to translate, I needed an interpreter. After a while, with about five words of Hebrew and some gesturing, I was communicating adequately with a six-year-old.
Over the very pleasant lunch we played more games which we could all join in. My wife’s cousin asked us all to be a biblical character we drew from my hat. We then had to ask others if they were David HaMelech or Avraham etc. Correct guesses forged teams. Not to sure how the winner was chosen but much fun was had. The second game was a form of charades where several words associated with Judaism, written in Hebrew script, were placed in my hat again! Luck I brought my hat.
When I was asked to explain what was on the paper slips I first had to decipher the Hebrew script which was a bit of a handicap. I scored 6!
At an early stage of our visit we were formally shown where the safe room was. My wife was reading to her 4-year-old cousin twice removed from a book about rabbits burrowing into ground. She turned to my wife and said ‘They are going into the shelters’.
In the afternoon we arrived in Netanya to stay with my wife’s aunt and uncle.
Today, I went to the synagogue where there was a barmitzvah. One of the congregants was a soldier returned from Gaza. He was called up to ‘bentsch gomel’ which is a blessing you make when surviving a life-threatening experience.
At the kiddush after the service, I thought I recognised my optician from Manchester. Maybe, with a different prescription, I would have been sure. We had to leave before I could get any closer.
Hamas are threatening to fire at Tel Aviv tomorrow. We spent some time as armchair politicians discussing how to solve the Gaza conflict. Having decided genocide and ethnic-cleansing are not acceptable options, we were left without an answer.
However, I was left wondering whether Hamas supporters had the same scruples.
Shavua Tov – a good week to all.