Not a special day, but quite an enjoyable one. My husband took our oldest son two days ago and they traveled back to the other side of the world. Our oldest son will start college this week. It was so painful saying goodbye to him. He is such a sweet and a great kid, but I know this is the right thing for him. I know he will be happy, and I know he can make it by his own. He had hard time saying goodbye too, but this is life. You need to keep going.
Life is so peaceful today, a Saturday morning in Tel-Aviv. Stores are closed. Roads are half empty, so quiet and nice. I love those mornings. I take my coffee and sit next to my computer, or just read a book. I prepared breakfast this morning with my boys, and we had just a little chat about nothing special, just a relaxed Saturday morning. Number two said that he missed having those Saturday mornings where there is no mess in the house. No workers are coming, and a happy mom. I can relate to that. I missed that too. It was such a painful hard move here for all of us.
I loved my life in the US, but missed my Israel. Israel is the only Jewish country in the world. You really feel the Sabbath, and you certainly feel the Jewish holiday spirit.
The Jewish New Year is coming up. This time we will have our extended family with us. In Judaism all the holidays start when the sun goes down. This is where a new day begins and we celebrate it with a big feast. New Year’s Eve in Israel is very special. There are even traffic jams everywhere. The celebration lasts until very late at night. It is a family-oriented holiday.
Where are you going to be for Rosh Hashanah?” (Where are you going to be for the New Year Eve?) is a question you will hear everywhere. Right now people are busy just preparing. Sometimes people find it’s too much family and they are trying to avoid this pressure. I found myself one or twice trying to escape from all this, but at the end of the day I find the holiday season quite nice. When I was in the United States, I really missed having my family with me.
Israel is similar to the U.S. in that is is a multiple culture country. The majority of the population is Jewish, but the origins are from all over the world. My parents came from Iraq, for example, so we have our unique little traditional dishes, (which by the way is one of the subjects you could find in the book I wrote Daughters of Iraq). You probably know about “Gefilte fish” (a fish meatball). If you’ve never heard of it, you’re probably a minority living in an isolated area, or you do not have Jewish population next to you, since this dish is a very well known. The origin of this dish is Eastern European, but it is sold everywhere and is related to Rosh Hashanna, and the the New Year’s Eve dinner.
Actually, this dish is not a tradition for Jews who came from Arab countries. One of the major blessings for the holiday is eating the head of the fish in order to be blessed to be the head and not the tail. Jews originally from Arab countries eat fish too, but it is more a sour-spicy flavor. They do not eat Gefilte fish.
There are many other cultural differences between what i experienced in the US and what I learned growing up as an iraqi Jew in israel, but the basics are similar. You dip apples with honey for the blessing of having a sweet year. Iraqi Jews eat apple jam. Every culture has a little different custom around the New year holiday mean. The nice thing though is that since Israel was established 63 years ago, there were so many mixed cultural marriages that when you are actually having the nice New Year feast, all those multicultural dishes are being served on one table. It is so colorful and there are many accents that you will hear next to the table.
We are having 30 people for our dinner. So many mixed cultural dishes will be served. We will have Romanian dishes, and Iraqi, Polish, German and Turkish dishes. I believe that this is the same with every single family around us. This is what I like best about this holiday. People bring their culture, their foods and special blessings, their accent. It is a tradition to wear white clothing. We set nice tables and sit together as a family. We take the bad from last year and put it behind us, and we pray for a better, sweet, healthy and peaceful year.
Be blessed, and Shana Tova (Happy New Year!) to all of you!