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Thursday, December 14, 2017

They say man plans and God laughs.

As our family was shopping and preparing for three days of meals with friends on our yishuv home Chashmonaim, my baby brother and sister-in-law were bringing their beautiful bechor into the world.

Three precious words.

It’s a boy.

Followed by other precious words.

Rosh. Hashanah. Brit.

And so as God chuckled, and after we stopped crying from pure joy, things got real.

We changed course. Canceled plans with amazing understanding friends and made new plans with dear family. Cooked and packed and cooked some more and airbnb-ed with our family from the Shomron, Raanana, Ramat Eshkol and Great Neck. All of us coming together to bring a three-day chag and a brit to the holy city of Jerusalem.

We hit the road with two cars jammed full of fresh food and serving pieces and clothing and children and a lone soldier and games and challot and cakes ….

Rosh Hashanah in Jerusalem.

Rosh Hashanah brit in Jerusalem.

Truth be told, I haven’t always connected to Jerusalem the way I felt I should.

From early on in our marriage, I saw the love my husband felt every time we walked the cool cobblestone paths of the marketplace or drove through the arched courtyards under the tapestry of olive branches. I saw it in his eyes, effervescent and deep.

Where he saw beauty, I saw old.

Were he felt recharged, I felt neutral.

It wasn’t until my husband suggested that I join him three years ago to daven at the Kotel on Yom Yerushalayim that my love for Jerusalem was set on fire. I don’t know if it was the fact that I had just watched the famous video of the soldiers liberating the Old City or the transcending touch of the smooth stones on such a momentous historical day for our people. Whatever the reason, it was instant and awakening. And it’s been a love affair ever since.

I feel its warmth spread through my veins as soon as I start to ascend the moss green hills of Jerusalem.

Maalim bakodesh.

We go up, literally, in holiness.

So to be able to daven Rosh Hashanah in Jerusalem was now for me a real, tangible excitement.

To be able pray the words “V’l’Yerushalayim ircha b’rachamim tashuv” and say them in Jerusalem—truly incredible.

It’s not only the ancient text and prayers or the pale stones and historic arches that move me.

It’s the electricity of the people there.

There’s a cool vibe in Jerusalem. A pulse. A heartbeat. Jerusalem is the majestic melting pot of our people, each soul a colorful tile that together creates the mosaic that is our Jewish people.

We were blessed this chag to celebrate with so many new people who opened their homes and hearts to us on this holiday of new beginnings.

We were privileged to have two meals with lone soldiers both at the Michael Levin Lone Soldier Center and at their new apartment complex housing and taking care of the needs of 40 lone soldiers from around the globe. Meals that were especially meaningful as they were sponsored by many families from Bergen County communities.

We ate the traditional simanim, scooped tart pomegranate seeds and dipped sweet apples in sticky honey, surrounded not only by our adopted soldiers but by so many of our nation’s bravest who have left their homes and comforts to protect ours. We were overcome with national pride. Mi k’amcha Yisrael.

And as we walked back to our Airbnb through the moonlit streets we were embraced and recharged by the cool, magical air that is Jerusalem.

And so began the incredible story of my baby nephew Adin Baruch.

The first boy on my sister-in-law’s side and the first boy in a decade on my side since my Rafi was born exactly 10 years ago. Both named after our zaidy, z”l, whom we all adored, who would have been overcome with nachat that his great-grandson was joining the covenant of God on the holiest of days in the holiest of cities.

Adin Baruch. A gentle blessing.

May this year be a year filled with gentle blessings for all of Am Yisrael in Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh and all around the world.

By Esti Rosen Snukal

 Esti Rosen Snukal made aliya with her husband and four sons five years ago from Teaneck, New Jersey. She is the adopted mom to lone soldiers from New Jersey and is an active volunteer at the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin. Esti can be reached at [email protected]