Friday, December 24, 2010

Shemot - Coming to Israel

My eldest son will lain his Bar Mitzvah parasha in shul on Shabbat - SHEMOT (names). The parasha reads, "And these are the names of the children of Israel coming down to Egypt..." And then it proceeds to name all the children and grandchildren who accompanied Jacob to Egypt.
Shemot is the first chapter of the book of Exodus, and in a few more weeks we will read the story of the Jewish people's miraculous escape from the crushing Egyptian slavery.
My son came over tonight to review the parasha with his Abba. I was frying cheese pancakes in the kitchen as they began. I've heard that melody before. In fact, I've heard it every year for the past 17 years.
My son has just turned 30 (ad 120).

But as I stand in the kitchen and hear him sing the parasha's tune, I am transported back to the beginning of our Aliyah. We came to Israel not knowing much about the education system. We didn't do well with the education of this child, an 11 year old at one of the most pivotal times of his life. We will feel guilty about it still today.
Jacob left Israel to go to Egypt, and we left America to start a new life in Israel. And with every new thing we learn about our new country, we feel that we are in a constant state of "coming to Israel".
Those early Aliyah days were not like today. There was no one to guide and advise us. There was no help in school for my son.
"V'eileh shemot ..." I can clearly hear the little boy, who can hardly speak Hebrew, who does not quite know what his teachers are saying, or how he'll make it in this Israeli society without being a real Israeli. His voice is so sweet. He plays baseball, roller blades, loves animals and is reliable in every way.

Suddenly that little boy is gone. In his place stands a self-assured adult - an Israeli, also an American, an Abba, an army commander, a businessman. His voice is still beautiful. He still loves animals and is reliable in every way. He is a cuddly loving tateleh, and he's 30 years old with a family on his own.

On Shabbat, he will read his parasha and his Abba will listen carefully just as he did 17 years ago. Mazel tov!
"And these are the names..." I pray that I will have the privilege to hear father and son review this parasha until 120.

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