Held of writing anything until the entire family had successfully left the country. We had a wonderful time in Israel. I think each family had their own special experiences. We learned a lot, experienced new cultures, ate new foods, rode camels, and celebrated a triple bar mitzvah of 3 awesome kids all the while watching updates on JPost as soon as they came across our phones.
Prior to arriving and upon arrival, we had felt the underlying anxiety of the 3 missing boys, seeing demonstrations in Tel Aviv then came the sad news that the bodies were found. We then learned of the killing of the Palestinian boy by Jews! How horrible and embarousing to our people. Things then became very tense. We were told not to go to open markets or go to the Arab section including The shook or Ben Yehuda street. the cab driver told us of kids throwing stones at soldiers at the Dome if the Rock and to be cautious. Fights with the Arab cab drivers for picking up fares at the hotel were apparent.
We had an amazing bar mitzvah. The kids were great. Rabbi Mari did a beautiful job. The custom siddurs were beautiful, personal, and meaningful. The setting at Robinson’s Arch was incredible. Peaceful, quiet, private, and authentic. We heard sounds of bar mitzvahs, drums and shofars marching bar mitzvah kids in, shrills of the sefardic women doing that noise, and songs. After the ceremony, we had a kiddish and then went to the kotel. Put our notes in the wall, said some prayers for health and peace.
We then jumped on the bus and went to the Ticco house for a celebration lunch. Delicious food, music, and A tiny bit of dancing. The bar mitzvah boys went up on the chair.
We later went to Ben Yahuda street that evening. It felt tense but we wanted to walk around and do some shopping for souvenirs. Bennett got wrapped in tefillin by a Chabad rabbi and 2 police officers. We continued with eyes open. All of a sudden we saw a spontaneous gathering of young kids screaming “am yisrael chai”. Police were running there in minutes. Don’t know what happened as we walked the opposite direction. Rockets become heavier. We packed our bags assuming we were going to continue to Eilat/Petra. The next morning we hear 40,000 troops called up and the operation had a name. We made a plan to talk at breakfast with the adults and the tour operator. We decided that since the bar mitzvah was over we were done touring. We didn’t want to be in the south, further from the airport or being in an Arab country having issues at a border entering Israel, justified or not. We then had the next stage of changing tickets. The prices ranged all over the place. We had to fly through London bc we had British airways so we are here now till tomorrow making the best of our vacation. Everyone left except Erik&Deena and family were able to get out of Israel on Tuesday. They had to stay an extra day. During the day, they had to get shelter at the Carlton hotel in Tel aviv when the sirens went off as Hamas rockets approached. Iron dome took care of them. Our guide Odelia said a few landed near their home. They spent the night with their baby in their shelter. I hope he wasn’t scared. My kids are obsessed with JPost wanting updates on the country they fell in love with. Bennett said, “don’t worry about Petra, we can go back for Brett’s Bar Mitzvah. ” Sounds good to me.