The second destination on our world tour was Israel, my birthplace and the Land of Milk and Honey, as it is said. (Also, the birthplace of Bamba**, one of the best things ever invented.) My siblings had already arrived so we had a lot of niephews (my term for nieces + nephews; shorter) cuteness to catch up on. My siblings and I haven’t been to Israel at the same time since 2000, when our oldest brother, Nachshon (aka Shon), got married. A LOT has changed since then – 7 niephews, moves, etc. So, this was quite an exciting trip for all of us.
We started the trip in Tel Aviv, where Shon and Alona (my sister-in-law) live with their three kids, Edan, Daniel and Maya. (You may recall that they came to visit us in South Africa and Daniel wrote a kick-butt post about it.) Everyone stayed there except for us, as we didn’t want to push the house from packed to jam-packed. We went to visit our aunt, Leah, straight from the airport so by the time we arrived, the niephews were all asleep. 😦 But, the next morning, it was super fun to get to the house and see all of them at once! Hugs for everyone! We got ready and Noa (my sister), Nadav and Ha (my brother and sister-in-law), their kids (remember Naomi’s epic post about their SA visit??) and I drove to Jerusalem for the day. We parked at a mall right by the old city and went in via the Jaffa Gate. We walked around for a while, amused/terrified by the kids running around, given the hectic nature of the shuk (the market). It was with good reason because Alon managed to slip and fall (hitting his head, hard) in the first two minutes of walking around. Oops! (Darn ancient, slippery steps.) We went to the Western Wall and the kids went up to put their wishes in the cracks of the wall, as is the custom. We had a hummus lunch, walked around a bit more and tried to get out of there before the traffic got nuts. (We succeeded, mostly.) We got back to Alshona’s and my friend, Mollie, from my year in Israel after high school, came over for dinner. She lives in the city of Be’er Sheva – south of Tel Aviv – but works in TA so it worked out well! We had a nice dinner – Shon grilled, YUM – and then we dropped her off at a train station to go home. We ended the day with an escape room with our cousin, Eran, and his fiancé, Rotem. It was super fun! (Apparently they’re huge in Israel…)
The next day, Alona and I went to breakfast and then we met up with everyone at the pool. They had a blast and we got popsicles after, an Israeli spring/summer (hell, /fall/winter) must. We met up with our cousin, Evyatar, and Shon at a really cool, funky pita place right under Shon’s office. Yum. We then went to the boardwalk (the Tel Aviv ‘Tayelet’) and played at a playground before going to a trampoline place. (The kids jumped their faces off.) We went to our cousin, Ofra’s, house and had a super nice visit with her family and our aunt, Tikva. Then, the adults (minus Shon and Alona) and the oldest boys, Edan and Daniel, went to see “Avengers: Infinity Wars” – so good!
Our last day in TA, we all met up for a hike with one of Alona’s brothers, Benny, and two of his kids. We went to a place with lots of old caves and we had fun getting the kids (and ourselves!) through the narrow passages. (Seriously, some of them felt like it was a possibility that we’d get stuck. Except for the tallest one of us all, Edan, who seemed to slip through everything like it was nothing. Ah, to be young!) We stopped for a jachnun (look into it) break and then headed out from the park to have lunch. What a fun day!! That night, Edan, Daniel and the adults went to a private karaoke room. We snacked, drank and regaled each other with our best renditions of songs by Pink Floyd, R.E.M., U2 and En Vogue (we’re all looking at you, Jon; my nephews will never be the same). Just delightful.
The next morning, we headed out to the north and met up with my mom’s cousin’s family. I hadn’t seen them in years and it was just wonderful to catch up, meet their kids and have a really nice lunch. It was the perfect way to start the day. We drove to Kibbutz Ginegar, the kibbutz where my dad’s family has lived since the early 1900’s. We were there for a very special occasion* and had a terrific time. (More on that later…) We decided to try staying in the city of Nazareth this trip because it’s only a bit further than where we’ve stayed before and there were a lot more options. We stayed in a great hotel right in the old city and were able to walk to places for coffee, breakfast, etc. Most days, we fed the kids breakfast in the hotel (set up in a nice courtyard with the cutest baby kitten ever) and then we headed over to the kibbutz. We spent a lot of time walking around, visiting our Savta (our grandma, who is the greatest grandma there is; proven), playing at our aunt Nitza and uncle Meir’s house, riding around in their scooter, going to the kibbutz dining hall (the ‘chadar ochel’) for lunch, hanging out with our uncle Arnon and aunt Limor, going to the store (the ‘kolbo’) for more popsicles, and so on. Our cousin, Nitai, was a delight and came with us on some of our adventures, as usual. (He’s the brother of Evyatar and the two of them are two of the best. Truly.) We also spent a day in Haifa where we took the train from a station right by the kibbutz and it took us right to the beach. (We had a few hiccups finding the station, finding the beach, etc., but we got it! Don’t worry!) We even got to meet Eran for lunch, as his office was right by the beach we went to. We also met Evyatar, Shon and Alona at a winery, halfway between TA and the kibbutz, which was lovely. Our cousin, Udi, even drove up from the TA area just to have lunch with us at the kibbutz! It was pretty spectacular.
We had an awesome trip – packed to the brim with family time, food, fun and frivolity. I was so sad when it ended because I had to say good-bye to so many people I love, all at once. Let’s just say, there a tear or two were shed. (We’re still all looking at you, Jon!) Jon promised my grandma we’d be there, at the latest, every two years, so hopefully everyone can just come back out when we go next… (To motivate my siblings, please enjoy these pictures of some of the cutest niephews around, having a great time together. Hint, hint…)
– By Naama
*Next up, a special guest blogger details the fun at Savta’s special party… Stay tuned!
**See your local Trader Joe’s for your chance to try The Chosen One.