…and you shall see your children’s children

Today is Matan and Lilach’s birthday. Nine years ago today I stood just a few feet away from my daughter as the first twin emerged. “It’s a boy!” But the doctors were concerned. The second baby’s heartbeat was slow and so they took my daughter to the operating room to perhaps do a Caesarian section to get the other baby out. Fortunately, the C-section was not needed and 14 minutes later, Lilach emerged. And suddenly, we became a family that had twins, a boy and a girl! I would never have guessed then that by now, there would be two more sets of boy/girl twins!

So today is their birthday, and it coming on Jerusalem Day this year, we thought it would be a good idea to take the children to Jerusalem last night to see the parade and perhaps the fireworks.

However, Matan was tired after soccer practice and his 11 year old sister, Hadas, really wanted to go, and so we ended up with the two girls making our way to Jerusalem.

The traffic in the city was almost at a standstill as street after street was closed. When finally we parked and walked to Jaffa Road, the parade was still going on and we watched as group after group of children and adults from all over the country paraded in uniforms and costumes, on floats and on foot, driving motorcycles and ambulances, to salute Jerusalem.

Suddenly I was transported to my first trip to Jerusalem. It was in 1965 when I came on a youth tour. I stood at that very spot on Jaffa Road, but back then, the Old City was closed to us. We could not visit. We were taken to Abu Tor to look out over to the Temple Mount. We went to Mount Zion and tried to see what we could of the holy city. I was in Jerusalem longing for Jerusalem.

And then I thought about June 1967. I was in Philadelphia, seven months pregnant, sitting in my parents’ family room, embroidering a challah cover, the one we still use, when the news came onto the TV, “the Temple Mount is in our hands!”

I can’t describe the joy. I remember thinking that the baby inside me will never know that longing that the Jews had felt for so long. I remember seeing TV reports about the first Shavuot after the reunification—people streaming into the gates of the Old City.

It took us many years to return to Israel, but finally, in 1978, we took all of the children. On our first day, we went to visit to the Old City of Jerusalem. I still remember the awe I felt when I first saw the Western Wall standing there, golden in the sunlight.

My experience of Jerusalem has not changed, not after having visited there, not after having lived there. Jerusalem is holy and special from the very stones to the special fragrant smell of the air. Going to Jerusalem is returning to the place where I belong.

So we watched last night’s parade, we sang along with the music that was playing beautiful songs of Jerusalem, we ate dinner, we walked through the downtown walking area that was filled with people, and on our way home we were treated to fireworks that were best seen from our car as it descended down Betzalel Street to Sacher Park.

And I felt grateful for my husband, my children, my grandchildren, and for my city, Jerusalem.

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