We are moving out of our Herzliya home. After 22 years filled with life, happiness and sorrow, we have decided to follow our tribe to Jerusalem.
Our old friend Assad, from a not-so-nearby Arab village, came to help us with the move.
He arrived at 6 a.m. after a journey on three buses and a communal taxi. As usual, he came laden with gifts of homemade hummus, freshly pressed olive oil and Israel’s precious herb, zaatar, and with hot pita, so we could feast while we worked.
And work we did! Assad, with the strength of a much younger man, did all of the heavy stuff. Assad is 58, a father of nine and grandfather of 25. All of his progeny live in his village. I was envious as I told him we have grandchildren spread out from Seattle to Israel and numerous places in between.
It is for our grandchildren that I now feel the sadness of the move. This home has been the most consistent one in their lives. Their memories of the apartment on Rechov Chana Senesh cemented their love, devotion and sense of being a part of something in our family lore and in the history of the people of Israel. Over the years they left many treasures behind, many little secrets which we discovered when we cleared out the years of accumulation.
We are not hoarders, but who could throw away the book our grandson wrote at 7, “Teddy at Mt. Sinai,” or our eldest granddaughter’s illustrated novella, coauthored with me, “The Princess Ballerina”? Contents of the toy box reflected all the kids’ stages and ages through adolescence. It hurt to give away the Legos that had built so many colorful towers. We discarded the last of the many Rubik’s Cubes, found nestled and alone in the bottom of the box. Some Hebrew and English books were given away but in this generation of computers and Google, no one — not even a library — wanted the weighty three-volume Alkali Hebrew-English Dictionary.
Endless copies of the famed Maxwell House Haggadah, imported from the West Orange ShopRite, met their end at the Herzliya genizah. Many seders were conducted in this apartment with guests squeezed around the tables, as is the tradition. Each year we rejoiced and repeated how lucky we were to have one beautiful seder; but, as is the custom in Israel, only one seder.
Photos were the hardest to deal with. Endless photos. We saw loving moments that my parents had posed for, sitting on our apartment couch. One especially treasured picture showed them beaming as they held two baby great-grandchildren, our grandchildren, each under three months old. My parents were largely responsible for our choice of Herzliya to make our home, as they had moved there in old age to be near my sister. My father was already 80 when he became a new immigrant.
Years later, we sat shiva for both of them in this apartment, and they lie buried in the nearby Herzliya Cemetery. The pictures remain with us, a huge part of our family heritage.
How many times had our grandchildren filled these rooms with their sounds of joy, appetites for the delicious food of Israel and love of this home and this land? I simply cannot count, but I hear their voices now. They understand why we are moving. They know the yearning for Jerusalem, where our family members own three apartments.
Yet, they don’t. One especially expressive granddaughter simply said, “You can’t do this.” This was their home in Israel, their connection, their space, their place, as it had been for us and our children.
Now the apartment echoes with our family history. It is hollow without the cast of characters and the accoutrements — the furnishings we liked, the pictures we hung, but, mostly, the voices of all of us in our home in Israel, our home to which we say farewell with thanks for the mostly beautiful and wonderful memories.
Shalom, 23/9 Chana Senesh. You have been our friend.
Rosanne Skopp is a frequent contributor to the New Jersey Jewish News and a blogger for The Times of Israel. She lives in West Orange, N.J., and Israel.