Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Of Kif Kefs, Mekupelets and Egosi Bars

Welcome to my blog. It was to have been launched on November 4, in honor of the twelfth (Gregorian) anniversary of our family’s aliyah (move to Israel). Sadly, my father passed away on November 2, which abruptly put this project on hold, turned my head upside down and my heart inside out. I had prepared a very upbeat, almost giddy, introduction to this endeavor but my new reality forced me to sober up this inaugural post. I hope my usual style will resurface slowly but surely.

Meanwhile, I decided that upbeat or not, “the show must go on” and that my father, z”l, would probably approve. It was he who gave me a flare for photography and a penchant for prose. He was well-known and admired for his precision in everything from decorating his succah to lighting his menorah; from mowing the lawn to trimming his moustache. He upheld the tenets of Torah and its mesorah (transmission) in that same punctilious way and loved to share his good sense of humor - and a good game of Rummikub - with just about anyone. Despite the distance it was to put between us, my father blessed our aliyah plans and enjoyed numerous visits to Israel with my mother, may she live and be well, while we lived there. All this considered, it seems only fitting that I dedicate my blog to his memory and pray that it will serve as a zechus (merit) for the departed neshama (soul) of Avraham Shalom ben Chaim Yoel, hareini kaporas mishkavo.

Getting back to our anniversary, there we are at the airport on November 3, 1997, leaving the Goldeneh Medina (the golden land of my immigrant grandparents’ hopes and dreams) for Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold). Yes, there had been a rash of bus bombings in the months before our move. True, the kids had never been to Israel and had no close relatives there. But we had done our research, asked our sh’ailos (halachic questions), weighed all the pros and cons and embarked on our biggest family trip ever.

Our every earthly possession had been packed onto a ship that was somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean – except for the 20-something boxes we were taking on the plane with us. Bounty paper towels, cans of tuna, Ivory soap, Ziploc bags. “A little of everything”, I had explained to Bill, my husband and partner in this adventure, “until I learn how to read the labels in the stores.” As it turned out, most of the labels in the stores were bilingual and the adjustment to shopping in a foreign country wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I’d anticipated - thanks in part to wonderful places like Cheaperkol and Big Deal but also because this was no ordinary foreign country. We were Home. Every day for almost six years we thanked G-d for the innumerable joys, spiritual highs and not unexpected challenges of life b'Artzeynu HaKedosha (in our holy Land). And then - poof! - we were back in Baltimore. But I’ll save that for my end-of-July post, on the anniversary of our return. Generally, I will use this space to share my memories of and ga'aguim (longing) for Jerusalem. Please join me and perhaps our combined yearning will help bring us all back Home soon.

By the way, we celebrated our anniversasry this year with a falafel dinner – complete with s’chug (hot red pepper mix), Tapuzina soft drinks and a plate of Kif Kefs, Mekupelets and Egosi bars for dessert. As each of the kids walked in from school or work and eyed the spread, they cast me a glance and exclaimed (or muttered) “it must be daled (the fourth of) Cheshvan” (the Hebrew date of our aliyah). And I smiled to myself at having successfully drummed that date into their consciousness - the day on which they became legal citizens of the Land that has been spiritually theirs for more than 3,000 years.

As for the Kif Kefs, Mekupelets and Egosi bars, I’m glad they’re available at our local supermarket. Because along with the s’chug and Tapuzina, they are a few of the taste sensations that help me…Remember Jerusalem.