My Israel Story – bringing family together over the years
AJN journalist Carly Adno has visited Israel all throughout her life – but it was her most recent trip that proved most memorable.
Because my grandparents and most of my cousins live in Israel, I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed many family trips there over the years.
When I was a child, my parents, younger brother and I would divide our stay between my grandparents’ flat in Netanya and my cousins’ house in Efrat. I remember my grandfather introducing us to their local shuk and being amazed by the mountains of dates, spices and halva.
In Efrat, I’d spend Shabbat with my cousins and during the week tag-along with them to their school.
When I was old enough, I visited Yad Vashem. It was powerful and heartbreaking, but I will never forget walking through the Garden of the Righteous among Nations and reading the names of those incredible people who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Being in Israel for my cousins’ weddings was unforgettable, too. One of them took place in the Valley of Elah, the place where David killed Goliath. It was magical.
Being locals, our family took us to the untouched part of the Dead Sea, where we floated, then drank tea with no tourists in sight.
But my most memorable trip to Israel was my most recent journey. In 2018, my husband and I took our daughter to meet her great-grandparents and all her cousins there. We met up with my parents and brother, who had travelled from South Africa, and we had the most special family reunion.
We stayed in Jerusalem and pushed our daughter’s pram through the cobbled streets of the Old City. Together we touched the Western Wall and explored the diverse quarters, we wandered through the markets and bargained for some jewellery, we walked the quiet streets during Shabbat and we ate the best falafel and shawarma we’ve ever tasted.
In Tel Aviv, our daughter turned two and we all celebrated with ice cream on the promenade. We watched as the sky turned orange, then red and the sun set over the Mediterranean, while behind us a group of young Israelis played music on their guitars.
Every time I go to Israel, I long for those who have never been to make the trip to see the reality for themselves. I’d love them to visit Jaffa, where my cousin now lives with his wife and two daughters, and see how they live alongside their Arab neighbours, sharing Ramadan meals and Chanukah lights. Their apartment overlooks a Jewish kindergarten, which is just next door to a Muslim school.
Sadly my grandmother passed away just a few weeks ago, but we’re already planning our next trip to Israel; this time, to introduce our son to his great-grandfather and cousins, too.
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