Photo Credit: Jewish Press

People often ask how we’re enjoying our time in Israel. I’ve responded that, Baruch Hashem, we’re happy to be here. With all the unrest in the world today, we’ve found a bit of quiet and normalcy in our new home.

However, there haven’t been too many opportunities for us to really enjoy our time here as a family. This past Sunday certainly didn’t start out enjoyable. I awoke throughout the night to my baby daughter’s repeated coughing. While my kids have certainly had their share of coughs in the past, I couldn’t help fretting whether this, chas v’shalom, could be something more.

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I mentally took inventory of our food and supplies in case we need to live in quarantine (bidud) again. When my daughter woke up this morning with a snotty runny nose but no fever, I felt apprehensive but prepared for what the day might bring.

We thankfully have not needed medical help until now, and the Israeli medical system, I learned, is very user friendly. To make an appointment, I merely had to open the app of my healthcare service and, with just a few clicks, I was able to set up a phone consultation with my daughter’s pediatrician.

The pediatrician quickly called and assured me that my daughter’s symptoms indicated nothing more than a cold virus that has been going around. With that diagnosis, the pediatrician cleared my son to go back to school and prescribed my daughter a nebulizer.

(In addition to being easy to navigate, Israel’s healthcare system is also amazing because each person has a health card that contains digital records of all of his or her medical records and prescriptions ordered by his or her doctor. To fill a prescription, you simply swipe the health card at your pharmacy and the pharmacist receives all the necessary information. If you need a follow-up visit with another doctor, a swipe of the health card will provide that doctor a record of your past visits and medical history.)

With my son home and my daughter acting like her normal self, we decided to play hooky from our routine. It was time to take what is referred to here in Israel as a Yom Kef (“Day of Fun”). Israel certainly offers a plethora of opportunities for such a day, even during this coronavirus period. But for us, the choice was clear – we were off to the beach.

Indeed, it was the beach that had gotten my son to want to make aliyah in the first place. When we flew to Israel on our pilot trip back in 2018, he was skeptical of the proposed move. Born and raised in Manhattan, he could not imagine living somewhere without the essential hallmarks of his life – snow, subways, and baseball.

Within moments of setting foot on a Tel Aviv beach, however, my son was onboard with the aliyah plans. He loved digging in the sand and jumping in the cool waves. The assorted playgrounds that peppered the beach were just the icing on the cake for him.

Since we arrived in Israel, my son has been yearning to return to the beach. But between lockdowns and school/work schedules, it just hadn’t been possible. Sunday reminded me that it’s important to take some time to enjoy ourselves. After an under 30-minute drive, my family found itself at the Rishon L’tzion beach.

Despite the beautiful weather, the beach was not crowded and we were able to find a space to safely settle our family in. My son quickly began digging a hole in the sand, searching for hidden treasures. My baby daughter, meanwhile, explored the feeling of the sand with her hands and feet (and, if I wasn’t looking carefully, her mouth!).

We all dipped our toes in the cool water (no swimming was allowed due to riptides and jellyfish) and breathed in the fresh salty ocean air. We leisurely lounged on our beach chairs, taking in the sun while leaving our daily routine and concerns behind.

As I watched my sun-kissed sandy family devouring their ice cream cones on the walk back to the car, one thing was clear to me. My family was really enjoying their time in Israel. I only hope that conditions here continue to improve so that we can find more opportunities to incorporate Yom Kefs into our routine life.

There are so many more places and Israeli experiences I cannot wait to enjoy with my family. Hopefully, Sunday’s outing was just the first of many happy memories we will be building together in our new home.

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Aviva Karoly made aliyah to Israel with her husband and two children on March 19, with Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel, and JNF-USA. She can be reached at myaliyah2020@gmail.com.