defining the highlights

This past Shabbat, someone who I hadn’t seen in the past few weeks since I’ve been back home, asked me what was the highlight of my trip. I had to think for a bit, since after all, the trip was over two months. There had to be a lot of highlights. But I also thought she was looking for something in particular for herself, more than what I experienced.

I’ll tell you what I told her, but here’s a list of the moments that now feel highlighted to me.

  1. Watching my granddaughter lean down to her 4 year-old brother while she was attempting to give her bat mitzvah speech and he was busy trying to talk to her.
  2. Singing Shabbat songs over dinner with the family.
  3. Watching the oldest of the trio of babies feed a banana to the youngest at Ein Gedi.
  4. Watching the kids make themselves at home. Everywhere we went. Restaurants, parks, playgrounds, monuments, other people’s homes, hotel rooms. And even in their own homes.
  5. Having so many choices for kosher restaurants. So many very good choices and not just settling. This is so not a little thing.
  6. None of these are little things, even if they are little things.
  7. Having my camera with me to catch so much action, so much beauty.
  8. Being normal with the grandchildren; not just on vacation.
  9. Catching up with friends which didn’t feel like catching up at all.
  10. Laughing, even in awkward situations. See #23, 24, and 25 here on this list (which overlaps, yes, with this present post in many ways).
  11. Walking to get places.
  12. Hiking to be in places.
  13. Seeing so much natural beauty.
  14. Seeing so many beautiful children.
  15. Helping my grandchildren with their homework.
  16. Enjoying a band concert at the First Station in Jerusalem and enjoying it even more when the conductor says, “Since tomorrow night is Shabbat, this concert would not be complete without us playing a song in honor of Shabbat. And then they proceeded to play

    TSUR MISHELO ACHALNU  (scroll down on this page to this song and you’ll see some interesting connections, including a song by joan baez and mimi farina.)

  17. Going to a play at the Jerusalem Theatre to see a play about the poetess Rachel, where the singer paused for dramatic effect after just the first word of the song וְאוּלַי and the audience sang the next line of the song לֹא הָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים מֵעוֹלָם in the softest undervoice possible. And I don’t think I was the only one who teared up at that, by any means. Here’s the link to the description of the play, and here’s a taste.

(Go to 2:09 to catch the drift of the pause.)

So what did I tell her?

I told her what she wanted to hear, how much I loved being with my family in Israel.

And then I told her what I wanted to hear. Or what I heard through what I had said.

I’ll let you figure that out.


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