A Trip Down Memory Lane: Our Rosh Hashana and Yom Hakippurim (Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement)


It has been more than two months in the Holy Land, and aside from the expected difficulties, the general situation is altogether is pretty good.

The house is already organized and tidy (relatively…) and it’s really starting feeling like home.

Being in our home is pleasant. It is nice entertaining in your home, and most importantly, the telephone here does not stop ringing. For many years we have been used to living in relative solitude. We are not anti-social, but this is the way it is.

I am not sure we are the exceptions in the congregation, who finds itself far from their family, and we, thank God, have family.

We have entertained in our home during this holiday. The morning before the holiday my sister and her two daughters came to help me set two giant tables for 34 diners. The tables were decorated with flower and candles and pomegranates and even quinces, which the children picked themselves. There is no greater pleasure for me.

To be together with my family after so many years of voluntary exile, and especially to have guests in our own home. I felt elated, happy. My cousin and her family came from Jerusalem. Another cousin and his family came from Nahariya. My brother-in-law and his family from Haifa, my sister from Herzliya, my uncle and aunt and cousin from Herzliya, and of course my husband’s mother and my mother.

In short it was a happy and tasty occasion, and especially pleasant and moving because we were all together after so many years apart.

During the holiday we had rested and also succeeded in making a small trip to our “roots.”
We walked from the Hayarkon streem part to Ramat Gan, the town where I spent most of my childhood. It seems that the “Mount Napoleon” (which is really a small hill and not a mountain…) has not changed at all.

I did not really remember that there were cactus shrubs there, but the path was painfully familiar. I remembered that there was a shelter there where my good friend Rachel Swartz and I hid some things. No, I did not search for them because I did not remember what we had hid. I also did not remember where we them exactly, though I do have good memories of this place.

From there we went to  Nitzanim school where I was a student  during elementry. Here indeed there were changes. A new building is being built and it so crowded, where, I was wondering, will the children play?

The avenue leading to the school is full of tall trees that were small shrubs when I went there. Mainly, everything looked so small and not as far away as I remember.

It is funny to see how proportions are changing. The distances that seemed so big when I was a little girl have shrunk miraculously. The school seems small.

The distance between the school and Marganit street where Rachel lived is so short that I do not understand how I accompanied her home and how she escorted me, and what we said to each other during that short time.

We lived outside the quarter, on Hatikva Street. I think these were the first signs of outsider-hood. I remember that at the time it bothered me very much. The entire distance from the quarter to our house was 200 meters, but in spite of this I did not really belong.

I remember that mostly I went to my friend’s houses and they came to mine less often. I also remember how relieved I was when we moved to Herzliya and my friends lived right near to me. I remember that I felt much more belonging there.

It is strange to remember what I thought and felt then. A small girl who was trying so much to belong, to be wanted and loved, how stressed I was. Sometimes I find myself thinking of those years. If only I could have known as a child what I know now. I would have been a much happier and relaxed child. I would not have bothered with thoughts about the future, what would I be when I grew up.

Will somebody really love me as I love him? Will I have children of my own? Had I known at the time that I would marry with love, would live with love, would be the mother of four sons and would even be known as a writer, if I could whisper into the ear of that little girl within me…

If only I could hold her hand or put my hand on her shoulder and tell her not to worry so much, that really everything would be okay.

But even though I didn’t have this wisdom, this foreknowledge, I can observe from the perspective of a grown woman who reaches to the child in herself.

While we walked the neighborhood of my youth, I remembered more beautiful and pleasant things, and some less pleasant, and mainly one particular occasion for which I have pangs of conscience until this very day. I remembered Yael Ofek, a girl in my class.

I did not go to her birthday party because this is what the girls had decided (and I was one of them – heaven forbid…) and only two children from the class came to the birthday party which her parents prepared.

I am so sorry, and if I could I would have asked her pardon and forgiveness. Not only because we are close to the Day of Atonement, but because sometimes children have no discretion. I was and still am so sad and sorry.

If you are reading these lines, Yael, please know that I thought about this many times and regretted my malicious behavior.

I pray such a thing would not happen to one of my children, that their friends would not come to celebrate their birthday. I am happy to say that it hasn’t happened. Knock on wood…

Life is so short, because for a few minutes I felt like a little girl again with all the distress and feelings that flooded me. Then, all of a sudden I am already in my late forties and everything passed so quickly. How time is so strange and unclear.

What one should really do is try and simply be a good, loving happy person, putting sadness and bitterness and fear aside and simply enjoy life, because everything passes so quickly. There is really no reason.

There is no reason to be sad because of unimportant things or to get agitated because of nonsense. One should simply enjoy the really important things in life, the small joys of life like the New Year’s wishes I got from small son together with a hug and a declaration of love.

There is nothing more pleasant than waking up at the side of my man who has been with me for more than twenty-three years, nothing more lovely than enjoying my other sons, my brother and sister and their families. My mother and all the rest of my partner’s and my extended family.

Let each of you be blessed, and have a happy New Year and may you be inscribed in the Book of Life. I wish all of you a happy and healthy year and may all your big and small dreams come true, a year which will not be darkened by any distress or pain.

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About Revital Shiri-Horowitz

Author DAUGHTERS OF IRAQ novel @ immigrant experience to Israel. Experienced speaker to Jewish communities, bk audiences. Luvs her 4 sons/hubby/Havana Silk dogs http://revital-sh.com/
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One Response to A Trip Down Memory Lane: Our Rosh Hashana and Yom Hakippurim (Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement)

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