So, several months later, I finally found the time to tell you about the conclusion of these two weeks in April. I guess we’ve been busy.
To recall, part II left off at the conclusion of the first of these two weeks, spending a really nice Shabbat with Alli’s parents. In this post, I’ll tell you what made the next week a rollercoaster of emotions as well.
The week began with us spending one last day with Alli’s parents. We did a really fun road trip up Israel’s Mediterranean coast, going as far north as Rosh Hanikrah – Israel’s border with Lebanon. Her parents are hilarious on a road trip. I can’t remember anything specific that they said or did, but I do remember laughing a lot. Then, as Alli documented, we had to say goodbye to them. We watched as long as we could as they went through security and checked their bags, but eventually, after one last hug and one last wave goodbye, we both had to go in separate directions. This is the worst part about living here. The visits go by too quickly, while the time in between stretches on too long. So we began the week with a fun day filled with laughter that ended with tears of sadness as we parted from Alli’s parents.
The very next day, the emotional tensions remained high as we went to Hadasah hospital for an ultrasound. What? Yes, you read correctly. In case you haven’t heard yet, Alli is pregnant and on April 22, we had a comprehensive ultrasound. What this means is that the doctor spent about 45 minutes carefully going through each organ and body part of the child growing inside her. Up until now, we’ve had some trouble with having a baby, and we were both anxious to hear that everything is progressing normally. The doctor who did the exam was great. He started with the heart, and you could see it clearly pumping. He said, “good, normal” and then we moved on to the brain. Each time that a body part was pronounced good or normal or very good, Alli’s grasp on my hand became less vice-like. By the end, we were so overwhelmed with joy that we had tears streaming down our faces (again). Up until this visit, I had not allowed myself to believe that this was real or that it was going to happen, so when all of sudden we could see our child so clearly on the screen and the doctor was telling us how healthy it was, it was more emotion than we could contain. Feelings of relief, joy, and gratitude swept over us, and we floated throughout the rest of the day.
Finally, the roller coaster of these two weeks ended with one of the most special evenings of my life. On Sunday, April 28, we held a memorial for my mom on the occasion of her third yahrzeit (anniversary of her passing). We hosted the event at our apartment and in addition to friends from West Hartford (who now live in Israel), many of the people we had met over the course of the last few months attended. We played a video that my mom had made after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. The video detailed several highlights of her life or recollections. I had planned on playing just the parts related to her living in Israel for six months when she was in her mid-20s and her relationship with my dad – how they met and fell in love. The choice for showing these parts was do to the fact that we’re in Israel now and that my parents wedding anniversary falls on April 29th, so this was the evening before what would have been their 34th anniversary. It was so touching that when I went to turn the video off, the people in attendance told me to wait, that they wanted to hear more. So we watched another 10 minutes of her recollections.
I then gave a presentation on my studies of a tractate of Talmud called Megillah. The first two chapters of the tractate focus on practices revolving around the holiday of Purim. (See our previous blog post on Purim for more details on the holiday.) The last two chapters of the tractate then detail other traditions involved with reading other pieces of scripture throughout the rest of the year. This was the first time that I finished studying an entire tractate of Talmud. It was very special to be able to have it coincide with my mother’s yahrzeit as it was she who so inspired me with love of God and a commitment to Jewish traditions.
The evening concluded with friends making donations to Soroka medical center, the main medical center located in Beersheva, catering to the needs of the people living in Israel’s south. Currently, there are no comprehensive cancer treatment centers south of Jerusalem, so these donations went to a project underway to build a cancer center at Soroka over the next few years. If I remember correctly, the project should be completed in 2017. We were both truly, truly touched by the support shown by friends we had just met as well as friends from the states who watched via a live webcast. Thank you sooo much.
I’m happy to say that as meaningful as these two weeks were, life has since settled back into a more stable pattern of work and socializing without the emotional highs and lows.
Until next time…