I am writing this Friday afternoon here in Jerusalem where most are preparing for a family dinner tonight after Shabbat has officially come in. Shelli and I are invited to the home of Nir, our Migdal Arbel project head.
As we talked on the phone, he told me it would be noisy. His brothers and their families will be there. Lots of children. I told him I was used to that.
Family—so important to the Father. I think there are no people who exemplify this more than the Jews. They practice family. Shabbat after Shabbat. Pesach after Pesach (Passover). Sukkot after Sukkot. Etc. Families gather. And more often than not, they eat!
[Saturday, December 23, the Day of Shabbat: We had a marvelous time with this wonderful family. Amazingly enough, their brother from the army, a commander of 80 soldiers, was released to come home for Shabbat with his family. He has been in the war from the beginning. He arrived just before we did. At the very same time, I was conscious of two very strong feelings. One, sharing the joy of welcoming this brother home was a-once-in-a-lifetime thrill. At the same time, though, I was so hoping we were not intruding into something so very intimately personal to this amazing family.]
Israeli breakfasts at the hotels are a sight to behold! And to enjoy!
Here, one can get the recommended daily requirements of fruit, vegetables, and protein, at one sitting.
As I am enjoying the breakfast spread, I watch the families. And when I can, I listen to their stories. Everyone has a story.
Aviva from Kiryat Shmona
Aviva came over to our table to meet us. She was born in Kiryat Shmona. And kind of sadly, jokingly said, “I was born in a bomb shelter.” Not literally, but if you are familiar with Israel, you know that Kiryat Shmona has suffered more missiles than any other northern city.
She said, “It is hard. But we love this land. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
In her normal life she is Branch Manager of Genesis Tours. Her wartime duties cover managing the refugees from Kiryat Shmona. As you know, thousands of people who live within a certain radius of the Lebanon or Syria borders have been evacuated from their homes, as well as those from the Gaza border.
Aviva glowed when she told us of her two sons now serving in the war. One is in special ops, and the other in what she described as “undercover” operations. She said her mind is never off of them.
Loyal Family from France
In my people watching at breakfast, I’d noticed a beautiful family for a few days before I approached them and asked about their story.
I had observed that the father, mother, sisters, and younger brother sat with their soldier son who wore his gun to breakfast. I know that the soldiers get a few days leave from time to time, and I supposed this was the case with this Israeli family. However, what was going on with this amazing family was beyond that.
They are from France. And they have two sons serving in the IDF. The son with them has been serving in Jenin, in the region of Samaria (what the world calls the west bank). If you have been keeping up with things, you know there have been very dangerous operations in Jenin to take out the terrorist enclaves that have operated there for years.
All the family is gathered here to await news from their brother, who has served inside Gaza for 53 days. From day to day, they await news. They have been told that he will have a time of R & R soon. His six siblings, with their father and mother, will go where they need to go to be with him.
When I met the father at the hotel desk, he told me how pleased he was with his soldier sons. He said, “They are where they are supposed to be.”
Your Family and You
May these stories inspire you to value every moment of this holiday season with your loved ones. Don’t waste a second. Hug them tightly. Tell them you love them.
I won’t be home for Christmas or New Year’s celebrations, but I knew that by Thanksgiving. So, praise the Lord, I stepped up to the plate and rented condos at the amazing Big Cedar Lodge, where we enjoyed its facilities already brightly lit up for Christmas. That was my Christmas gift to them, and I told them that their gift to me was their coming. Everyone was there except for Branden and Destanie and Saint. They live in California and were awaiting the birth of their son, Braeden Kent Brim. I got a video of him this morning and I can’t wait to squeeze him.
A Blog Recess
This may be the last blog posted of the year. Our staff has next week off to be with their families. I will still keep writing (it serves as a journal) and will post them later. Probably after January 3.
May You Have a Blessed Christmas!
And in the New Year, May God’s Richest and Best Be Yours!
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