Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This is My Israel

To my loyal blog readers (whoever you are), I know that I am still in the middle of 2 ongoing stories. "My" Birth Story - the story of my first doula experience. And The Story of My Aliyah.

But I'm interrupting to write a brief blog. This is just a 1 Part-er. I think......

It all started on was a dark and rainy night.....whoops - wrong story. We're still waiting on those nights here in Israel. :( Come on Winter!!! Bring it on!!

Ok, Sukkot. We were up north camping along various beaches and getting sand all over everything that we own. We spent one day at the Family Fun Festival at Kfar Hassidim. There were a bunch of NBN attendees (we even wore special NBN stickers) and they gave each of us a sign that said "This is My Israel". They told us to take a pic with the sign and send it in to them and maybe we will win the contest. We said, "Ok, when does the contest end?" They said, "Um...not sure." We said, "Ok, what do we win?" They said, "Um.....1st place in the photo contest?" It didn't exactly make me jump to enter but I thought it would be a cute opportunity for some photo ops. I put the sign in our car thinking maybe we would take some pics during our trip. Then I forgot.....
Our trip ended and we headed back to Ariel and I figured that was better anyway because my life is mostly in Ariel and this is truly "My Israel". But I thought I would have to get creative because I wouldn't be able to take a shot on the beach or in the mountains or next to some animals. I'd have to find something in Ariel.....
My first thought was The Frog Pond. I am not sure why. It is a really freaky looking statue of a frog with a huge tongue out which also is a little fountain and it is a small "natural habitat" pond. There are some turtles in it and some fish. The kids happen to LOVE it and could spend hours just watching and looking for the turtle. But it's in the merkaz and we don't make it there much. So I thought I would make it an outing. Days passed and we just never had a chance to run on a photo trip around Ariel. But I kept the sign in my car and every time I saw it was reminded.
Then we found out (through our friends who also entered the contest) that there not only was a deadline for the contest but there was also an actual prize!! The deadline was about 2 weeks away (now 1 week) and the prize is a Flip video camera. I have no idea what a Flip video camera is but we definitely can use a video camera. Over the past few weeks we have been dealing with a million short clips that we put on my computer from our regular camera. They take up all the space and are making me crazy. We really would LOVE and make good use of a video camera!! But it's not the type of thing we would ever have excess cash for. So, I was inspired.
The next day Jonah finished school early, Sammy was at a friend's house, and Kayla was at the babysitter. So I figured we would take an hour and go to all the cool places in Ariel to try and get a nice shot. It was beautiful weather and I even brought along his soccer ball as a prop!! On one hand, I wanted to take a picture with all 3 of my kids. On the other hand, and anyone who has 3+ little kids can verify, it is almost impossible to get them all looking, smiling, and posing at the same time!

We decided to start at the top of Ariel and wind our way down. I explained the contest to Jonah and asked what pictures he thought we should take. He wanted to take a picture at the top of the mountain, he wanted to take a picture near our very 1st apartment (absorption apartment), and a picture where we took a picture of him on the first day of Gan. He always talks about that picture and how the buildings were IN the clouds!!!

So we went to the tippy top of Ariel and I think it was actually the spot that Avi Zimmerman took us to when giving us the view of Ariel. You can see the whole city and Jonah was fascinated by the construction that was going on. We took a bunch of pics there but none of them came out so great because Jonah was always squinting because of the sun. The background was kind of cool because it showed the whole city and this really is Our Israel. But I was also a little hesitant about the shot because our friends had taken a similar shot of their daughter with the mountains of the Shomron behind her. I didn't want to "copy".
We continued and went to a park, soccer field, fountains, etc until we ran out of time. Towards the end, I asked Jonah once more if he had any ideas and if there was somewhere in Ariel that he REALLY loved. He said Rchov HaGalil which is our new street!! I was so happy to hear that and we took a picture on our street and in front of our house too. I got some great pics! It also made me want to study photography and become a photographer!!! :)

That evening we went to pizza with friends (after our sons all had soccer together). I snapped a few more shots with Sammy and Kayla on the pizza place rides. As we were leaving a couple girl soldiers came into the pizza shot. And I thought to myself - that would be a great shot if I can get the soldiers with my kids! Or maybe one of Kayla with the soldiers. I went over and explained about the contest and asked to take a picture. They were happy to do it and I turned around to get the kids together and Sammy was in tears!! For all of his love of solders, he did not appear to want to be in a picture with them. But they were waiting and I felt bad so I took a picture of Jonah with them (soccer shirt and all). We were going to leave but Jonah said he wanted to take a picture of me. So I said ok, why not. I grabbed Kayla and we took the picture with them. Meanwhile one of them got a phone call (she was trying to hang up) and Sammy was standing there crying. It was a crazy shot (and one of the soldiers heads was cut off) and I didn't think anything of it.

I posted all the pics and got a few people's opinions on which to enter. I had such a hard time deciding. I was debating between a few shots. I really liked and initially picked the one of Jonah on the soccer field. It was a beautiful shot of Jonah and he had the soccer ball and for Jonah, that's a huge part of Israel for him. He wouldn't have played soccer in America! :) I also really liked the picture of Jonah on our street. But mostly I liked the idea behind it. I didn't know if people would "get it" by just looking at the picture. Shauli liked the one of Jonah overlooking Ariel. I liked the idea but didn't like the actual pictures (and didn't want to take away from our friends pic). Shauli also liked the soldier one. I thought about it (probably put way too much thought into choosing anyway) and decided to go with the soldier picture with me and Kayla. I was trying to get to the concept and the idea behind the contest. I gave it a caption "Only 16 years until my baby is serving the Israeli army".

I felt that this really expressed the Reality of living in Israel. By moving here, even though I did not serve in the army, I know that my children will be serving in the army (ok, maybe Kayla will do sheirut leumi - national service). The thought of that is both terrifying and makes me so proud. As a mom, I dread the day my children enter the army. As a citizen, I think it is amazing that every person has to serve in the army. It's a reality for my children. Sammy and Jonah often talk about what unit they will be in and where they will serve. It gives us such a connection to the land. I don't know which comes first. Do you feel a strong connection to the land, this is OUR land, and then you serve in the army? Or do you serve in the army and become connected to the land.

No other land in the world is like this for the Jewish people. This is our homeland and always has been. The sky is the limit for my kids here. Meaning, I hope, that they will be able to do and be whatever they want, while still maintaining their religious identity. Shabbat and Kashrut are not foreign concepts here. Not working on the Jewish holidays is a given here. This country is not perfect but by moving here, I feel that I have opened up my children's lives. And at the same time, given them a country where they can truly be free. Free to be who they are and do what they want without religious persecution. We aren't strangers anymore.

So, I got a little off topic and on a rant about my mad love for Israel. But bottom line, I feel my picture expresses a huge aspect of what Israel is - and will be - to us and to many other Olim.

We are currently in 2nd place and REALLY want to win!! Voting ends November 3rd (I think at noon Israel time). PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take a minute and vote for us on the the Nefesh B'Nefesh facebook page. And get your family (spouse, sibling, parents - whoever has facebook) to help us out also! We aren't even asking for money....

Just follow these simple instructions.....

1. Go to

2. At the top of the page, click Like.

3. Go to our picture at

4. At the bottom of the picture, click Like.

(If you don't want to vote because you don't want to join this random group,
you can Unlike the group after you Like our picture and your vote will still count!)

A lot of people skip the first step and go right to trying to Like our picture. But unless you LIKE the fan page (first link) first, you will not have the option to Like our picture.

Let me know if you have any problems. Thank you SO much for your support!!!


Laura said...

love it! so i don't look like i'm taking sides, i will post this to the NBN facebook page AFTER the contest... (feel free to remind me)
thanks for your solid participation!

Laura said...

You didn't remind me! But I just remembered, and will post this now :-)

DonutsMom said...

Oops. Thanks! Will you let me know when/where you post it?