Pizza in the Park (or, it’s the Liberty Bell, but it isn’t Philadelphia)

Still suffering from the after effects of a rather vigorous trip to China and Tibet (I still have a Tibetan cold), yesterday we ventured to Jerusalem. The occasion was very special. We were going to meet a cousin who had found me on the internet.

When I was young and my mother’s parents would have family dinners, in addition to my aunts and uncles and cousins, there was another couple and their son who usually were there. The man was my grandfather’s nephew, my mother’s cousin, but he was almost the same age as my grandfather since my grandfather had been the baby in his family and this son of his older brother had been born not long after my grandfather.

I wasn’t that fond of the man. He smoked big smelly cigars and talked with a rasp in his voice, but I did like his wife who was little and round and always smiling and pleasant. I also liked their son who had red hair and played the saxophone (although my sister and I both remembered that it was an accordion) and who seemed smart and confident and kind. It was an odd relationship since he was just enough older than I was to not be a peer. On the other hand, he was like a cousin to me and I would look forward to seeing him. At some point that I don’t remember, he faded from my life. It was after my grandmother passed away and despite two or three attempts, the family activities ended. I know that my mother maintained some contact with them, but I don’t remember his wedding (although I do remember meeting his beautiful bride at some point). And then I got married and moved away from Philadelphia and from time to time would hear a couple of words about the family from one of my uncles.

And then, a couple of years ago, the son of this cousin contacted me. And now, he and his wife and their three children are visiting Israel. In Hebrew we say “Seeba l’m’seeba!” — a reason for celebration! So last night we got all of the Michelsons, Inbars, Ariks, and Goodmans we could round up and went to Liberty Bell Garden in Jerusalem where the temperature was forecast to be brutally hot, but in fact, where it was delightful. Our cousins were to meet us there. I told them that we would be wearing silly Chinese straw hats so that we wouldn’t be hard to identify. And then, there they were!!!! We were pretty excited. As my children begin to introduce themselves and their children, I realized there was no chance they would remember who was who, so I gave them an outline of a family tree I had printed up to use as a reference.

So that no one would have to work hard, we ordered pizzas to be delivered to the garden. It was a bit hilarious when two motorcycles zoomed in and the drivers began unloading a seemingly endless number of boxes of pizzas. We were able to find a place to sit with table space enough for all of us. Everyone seemed to enjoy the pizza and the setting couldn’t have been more perfect. The park was filled with happy little voices and beautiful little faces of all of the little cousins.

After a while, our son-in-law Yaakov took his juggling equipment and began juggling. All of us always enjoy watching him perform. He’s amazing! Our cousins seemed to love it too!

Sometimes there are moments in your life when you would like to take a picture to hold them close. Last night was one of them. Our cousins are truly delightful people and it was such a privilege to have most of the family gathered and to spend such pleasant time with everyone.

And to our cousin’s dad, my big cousin with the saxophone… I wish you had been here too. Come to Israel! I promise you pizza in the park!

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