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December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
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Israel Puts Everything into Perspective

Even youngsters in Israel, years away from voting age, are knowledgeable about politics and don’t hesitate to discuss their opinions.

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Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

After more than two months spent living in Israel, it seems strange to be back in New York. The weeks in Israel flew by and during that time I experienced a whole gamut of emotions.

With great sorrow I attended the funeral of a dear family friend, Shlomo Zakheim. I had been praying for so long for his recovery that his death almost felt like a physical blow.

On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, I was happy to attend seven weddings these past two months (family members of dear friends) – more weddings than I’d been to in the past two years. In fact whenever my children couldn’t reach me in the evening, they would joke, “Ima must be at another wedding.”

I was also privileged to experience the biggest nachas of all, attending the bris milahs of two new great-grandsons.

My grandchildren Chani and Daniel Meir Heyman had a little boy on Yom Kippur. At his bris on Shabbos Chol HaMoed Sukkos, he was named Sholom, after my father, Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l.

And my grandchildren Avital and Gilad Nezer had a baby boy on the first day of Sukkos. His bris on Simchas Torah added great simcha to an already joyous holiday.

I spent many happy hours with my children and grandchildren as well as with longtime friends.

Most people I spoke with during August and September were concerned about the civil war in Syria possibly spilling over into Israel. Gas masks were a hot topic. Everyone wanted to know if I had one. On hearing I did not, people urged me to get one. Helpful friends called to tell me where they were being distributed and even advised me to buy one if that was the only way I could get one. I asked my son Dovid what he thought; he told me not to worry. I wasn’t really worried, but the ever-present threat of attack by hostile neighbors is not to be taken lightly in Israel.

Local politics was another general topic of conversation. Elections will soon be held in all the cities for mayor and city council. Large billboards are up supporting the different candidates. At a barbecue in the sukkah of Stephen Leavitt for Jewish Press.com personnel, a spirited debate took place regarding the virtues of Jerusalem’s present mayor, Nir Barkat, who is running for reelection. At least we were all able to agree on the delicious food and how nice it was for the Leavitts to host the party.

Something that never fails to impress me is how even youngsters in Israel, years away from voting age, are knowledgeable about politics and don’t hesitate to discuss their opinions. So I wasn’t surprised to hear what my younger grandchildren thought about the so-called peace process, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry.

My days were full and I was enjoying every minute – but as often happens, even with all our blessings there are irritants that can end up getting the better of us, despite our good intentions.

My apartment in Jerusalem is on the seventh floor of one of the older buildings on Diskin Street, and the elevator broke down a number of times. As a result, the maintenance people decided to shut it down for a few days before Rosh Hashanah to do major repair work. Since climbing seven flights was difficult for me, I arranged to sleep at my granddaughter’s apartment.

The following week, before Yom Kippur, we were informed the elevator would again be shut down for repairs but would be up and running by 6 p.m. My neighbors Tema and Ceec Harrishburg, who live on the ground floor, invited me in for dinner and to await the return of elevator service. At 6 p.m. we were told the elevator would be back in service in three hours. I was enjoying the company and Tema’s delicious homemade dishes so I didn’t mind waiting a few more hours.

At 9 p.m. came the news that the elevator would not be running until sometime the next day. I was very tired after a full day and wasn’t sure what to do. Without saying a word, Tema and Ceec set about making up their spare bedroom and putting together a basket of amenities such as one finds in a hotel. I was very grateful to them, but as I was lying in bed in their guest room my frustrations overtook my usual even disposition.

There I was, reviewing all the things I had planned to do that night and thinking about how annoyed I was at the inconvenience, when I suddenly stopped and took a look around me. I felt the comfortable bed and pillow, looked at all the little things Tema had put in the basket for me, thought of all the meals I’d had at their home, and was overwhelmed with gratitude to Hashem for these very special people. Tema and Ceec were much more to me than neighbors; they had become dear friends who go the extra mile.

A little elevator inconvenience? What is that compared to gaining precious friends? And as this was right before Yom Kipppur, I was thankful to have regained my perspective on the important things in life.

About the Author: Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.


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One Response to “Israel Puts Everything into Perspective”

  1. God help these youngers to truly know the Israel politics.

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