ben ezra kids 298.88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For both David and Abbe Krissman and Jack and Riva Ben-Ezra, this week marked their first Rosh Hashana in their new life in Israel. It truly is a new beginning for each family, and The Jerusalem Post asked them to share in writing their thoughts and feelings on spending their first Jewish new year in the Jewish homeland.
Where were you for your first Rosh Hashana in Israel?
'On the second day of Rosh Hashana we performed tashlich, a symbolic ritual of throwing away our sins in preparation for the New Year," writes Riva Ben-Ezra. "We went to say the prayers at the fish ponds, which have a beautiful backdrop of the Gilad Mountains and Jordan behind them. It was a tremendous spiritual uplifting in that setting."
What was special about the holiday this year?
'We were in Afula a few days before the holiday, and were very excited to see Rosh Hashana as a national holiday with everyone wishing us 'Happy New Year,'" she writes. "Even the Ikea truck driver told me that he wanted to get us our new table before the New Year."
Riva continues: "There seems to be a lot more hope in Israel associated with the New Year. In the US, we mainly concentrated on the Ten Days of Repentance. Rosh Hashana is a more solemn time and worrying about asking for forgiveness in preparation for Yom Kippur. Here, people are enthusiastic about the blessings we should receive for the New Year."
What was difficult about this year's holiday?
'We really missed our friends this year," writes Riva. "Usually we have a lot of traditional foods [Jack is Turkish/Greek] and lots of friends over. This year was less spiritual; we worked more on physically getting our house in order."
What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
'We can't help but feel that we are already 'one up' on the new year by having come to Israel to settle," says Riva. "We hope that we will be able to work the land that is our inheritance and be able to have God proud of what we have created in Eretz Yisrael, thereby ensuring that we continue to receive the bounty of the land."
Where did you spend your first Rosh Hashana in Israel?
'We went to the Kotel on the first day," says Abbe. "Then over to our neighbors for seuda shlishit. The next day we went to our son-in-law's family in Ramat Eshkol [a neighborhood in Jerusalem]."
What was special about the holiday this year?
'Rosh Hashana is the time for new beginnings, as is aliya, so it seems especially fitting to have moved to Israel at this time of the year," write the Krissmans.
"We have never lived in such close proximity to our children since they became adults, so another new beginning for all of us is the forging of new relationships with them.
"Now that they are grown and independent adults with families of their own, what our children need from us, and what we need from them, is vastly different from before. It will be a long process, but a very satisfying one, as we learn to know them in a whole new way. We are kvelling over the people they have become."
What are the biggest changes for you this year?
'Added to all this change is our recent retirement," write the Krissmans. As well as moving countries, it has become a time for them to explore new interests.
"The sale of our home, in which we lived for 34 years, was also a big change," they say. "There are many new beginnings for us at this point in our lives: establishing a new home, meeting new neighbors and beginning new friendships, renewing friendships and relationships with people we've met in the past, learning a new language, and deepening the relationships with our adult children and our grandchildren."
What was the most difficult aspect of
this year's Rosh Hashana?
The Krissmans write that even though the holiday was a very special one this year, "none of this excludes the maintenance of the deep friendships with those dear friends still in the US who remain very important to us. With the advent of e-mail, we are able to keep them close to us and remain part of their lives despite the distance that separates us. And we are confident that many of them will choose to visit."
What do you look forward to for the coming year?
'Since we started visiting Israel 15 years ago, we have met many people here. Now that we have moved here we will be able to become closer to new family members and friends than is possible on annual visits of only a few weeks. Already, we've been included in family celebrations, something that was not possible before.
"Our neighbors also graciously invited us for meals during the holidays, beginning friendships that we hope will grow as time passes."