To honor this day, I find myself rummaging through each kid’s laundry basket hunting down those white polo shirts. I spray the hell out of them, toss them in the wash and hope that miraculously tomorrow morning my $7 Target shirts will adequately represent the solemnity of the day. Eitan has tried to convince me that his skateboarding shirt whose psychedelic print is on a white tee should suffice. I love how clueless he is.

To be tucking boys into bed just as the siren goes off is enough to throw me over. Every year. We’re snuggled into bed talking it all through watching as they find threads to grasp on to, to connect this hugeness to their very little worlds.

Today had me at yet another meeting watching the education system fail yet again. Everyone means well. And everyone is nice. But it is an epic fail. I literally (not figuratively but quite literally) cry when I sit with the well-intentioned staff who aren’t sure what to do. The worst part is that I know that in Cleveland my boys would be totally fine. And I think, quite dejectedly, this is Israel.

And then I head into Tel Aviv for a meeting at a hi-tech start up where they are doing some fascinating things with education. And I am way not cool enough to be there, surrounded by people with trendy clothes and those hipster glasses but I’m working with them on an educational project. And they are effortlessly cool and with it. And I think, hmmm, this is Israel.

And I come home. It is a wildly hot day out but it has the feel of summer vacation. David and I sit down to dinner with only Channan and Dov. Eitan is in the park down the block with a bunch of friends playing baseball. Yoni is at one of seven or eight different places. And Yael is out practicing daglanut — the 8th grade rite of passage on our yishuv. And this is my Israel.

But slowly slowly everyone shows up for the 8 o’clock siren. And the boys all file into our bedroom and Yael and her friends are standing outside one floor below us. And the siren starts. Yoni and his friend look down. My little boys awkwardly try to follow their lead. The gaggle of girls outside quiet down. And it is quiet. And the siren is loud. And this is Israel too.

I’m not sure that most people have this but I unabashedly have a favorite Biblical prophecy. It’s not one of those things I advertise (I think it might hurt my social standing) but it is Zecharia 8:4-6. In it old men and old women return to the streets of Jerusalem and the city is full of children playing in the streets. And Hashem tells us it will be wondrous. And He is right. It truly is.




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