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A happy new Jewish adult and his four younger siblings

Our family went to Israel at the end of August (click here if you missed that longread) but it certainly feels like a lot longer ago than that. The last quarter of 2016 has been…a little crazy, to say the least, and so much has happened since we got back. Back-to-school. A trip to Harrisburg. Soccer. Holidays. A trip to Maine. The Cubs. Trump. Bob Dylan. Leonard Cohen. A trip to DC and to NYC. Basketball. The beat goes on.

And while the world is exhausting, and activities are never-ending, we remember that trip fondly. So fondly.

Our trip and our activities in Israel are still a part of our everyday conversations. At least once a week I’m asked to take out the pictures of camel-riding by my 4-year old daughter while my 7-year old daughter and 10-year old son take turns begging to come with me the next time I go.

(Patience, Iago, patience….)

I’m also pleased to report that the Hebrew thing has not gone away, and has only intensified. My sons have doubled, if not tripled down, on their Hebrew studies, and the girls have all been jibber-jabbering away with adorable words and phrases and new interpretations like “Abbi,” which emerged from “Abba sheli” It’s still amazing. Slash emotional. Slash amazing. I never would have imagined that one of the enduring impacts of the trip would be about my kids and Hebrew language, but I’m certainly not complaining at all.

So we talk about Israel often, pull out our phones and look at pictures regularly, and always smile and sigh a little afterwards.

When I try to convince kids and their parents that an Israel trip is a good idea, I always mention how it changes the traveler(s) forever, and in our family’s case, that is absolutely true. I am reminded of it all the time.

On Sunday, two things happened which again re-affirmed the power and impact that this trip had on our family. In the morning, my Prozdor class (which includes my recently-Bar-Mitzvah’d-in-Israel oldest child) was recording a podcast on the implications of the CJP Community Study, and I was insisting that the students give me clarity on why Israel was important to them. My son, after some prodding, offered up this statement in reflecting on having his Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall:

“There is only one Kotel, it’s in one place in the world and when you are finally right there seeing it, and reaching out and putting your hand on the wall, it’s just so overwhelming because YOU’RE THERE and there’s nowhere else in the world that’s quite like it.”

Not thirty minutes later, I got a text from my wife, who relayed this little dialogue that had just taken place at home with our youngest daughter.

Little D (2.5 years old): “Ima, do we live on Masada?”

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These three girls didn’t want to leave Israel… and they definitely want to go back.

Mrs. B: “No, we live in Bedford.”

Little D: “Oh, too bad.”

Not my words. Their words. From the heart.

As the Shma and the V’ahavta remind us, “And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children.” As parents, we all have to make choices about what to emphasize to our children about Judaism and its traditions and we all appreciate, and at times, struggle with that responsibility. My wife and I, we have chosen to make Israel one of the centerpieces of our family’s life.

So far, I’d say it was a good decision.

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