Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Letter to Yochai

March 7, 2002

Dear Yochai (z”l)

Hi. It’s me, your beloved troublemaker, Natalie.

It’s hard for me to believe that you are gone, that you have gone on to bigger and better things, higher and more important places. Hard to believe that in this lifetime, I will never again see your smile or hear you laugh. I won’t be told by you to “show up in full MDA uniform” and be scolded to close that silly top button. And I won’t be able to tell you, face to face, what I should have said last week.

So I write this letter to you. And I hope somehow you will receive this message.

First and foremost, I want to apologize. I want to tell you I am sorry for getting angry about things that seem so unimportant now. You mentioned once that we are very alike and that’s why we kept going “head to head”. I told you that you were wrong. But now I want to say that to be like you would be a great honor. To accomplish even half of what you have done and to begin to touch lives as you have is a goal I strive for.

The line between teacher to student and friend to friend was very thin. To let you down as a teacher was hard. But to disappoint you as a friend hurt me deep inside. I was looking forward to working with you next week in arranging a MDA course for students on my Overseas Program at Ben-Gurion University. I was sure it would make you happy. Yochai, I wanted to make you so proud.

As it says on our Magen David Adom certificates, “To save one life is like saving an entire world.” I can only begin to imagine how many lives you have saved and how many worlds you have created. So too, everyone in the courses you taught have gone on to save lives around the world and educate people about Eretz Yisroel and Magen David Adom.

The lessons you taught me on the course and the things I have learned about you since then have changed my life forever. You gave me a chance to give back to the country that has given me so much, an opportunity I have been longing for since the moment I stepped foot in Israel. You also reminded me that life is short and I must live every moment to the very fullest. And that when I find something I love, I should put my complete heart and soul into it. Not only that, but I should share it and spread the love to others. In the short time I knew you, I learned this is exactly how you lived. Yochai, you made a difference in my life and taught me that I, one person, can too change the world.

Thank you Yochai Porat (z”l).

May you rest in peace.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

I love Israel because.....

Here are some recent reasons why I love living in Israel.

On our drive up to Maalot, we stopped at a gas station. I was looking at some candy bars to see if I could figure out which were Kosher for Pesach. Some guy next to me (may have been a manager) said "Oh, are you looking to see if they are Kosher for Pesach?". I said "Yes" and he pointed out which one was. Then he went to look in another section to see if there were any more there but there weren't. I realized we had meat for lunch so instead I just bought our Kosher for Pesach Cokes and Grape Juices. I loved that the gas station manager knew exactly what I was looking for and could help me.

But even better.....we stopped at another gas station later on. Way out in almost nowhere. I went in to use the bathroom and noticed plastic sheets covering a lot of things on the shelf. I thought wow, it looks like a grocery store kashering for Pesach. When I came out, I peeked and saw it looked like it was covering Chametz. When Shauli went in, he noticed a sign on the door that said "On Pesach, we won't sell Chametz". How cool is that in a gas station!!!!!!

We went on a nice hike yesterday and at the end, everybody stopped to eat. Most people buying from the snack cart but some people bringing their own food. I LOVED looking around and seeing everyone with their matzot or whatever creative food they could think of to bring for a hike. We're all in the same boat!!! (Well except for those of us who don't eat Kitniyot - it's a bit harder for us).

And another fun thing, Shauli and I went to a concert last night at the Agam (lake). They have a festival during Chol Hamoed Pesach and at night have free concerts. The singer was Lior Narkis whose song called "Lkol Echad" was a huge hit 10 years ago. I LOVED it then and still love the song now. We went to the concert basically so I could hear that song. He doesn't appear to be religious and the vast majority of fans of his at the concert did not appear to be religious either. Of course, we are all Jewish so he wished everyone a Happy Pesach too. But in the middle of the concert, he starts singing a song about believing in G-d. "Anachnu Maaminim maaminim" which is a popular song here at any religious events. Everyone cheered when he started singing that song and we all sang along. What an awesome feeling!! All of us standing there singing a great song abut believing in Hashem!!! It was pretty cool.....

So that's my wrap up for now on why I love Pesach in this country. :)

Next year may we all celebrate together in Jerusalem with Moshiach!!!!