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This is in excerpt of a feature article from this week's issue of the "Magazine".
When my mother visited in December 2006, nobody had any idea that something was wrong.
and my father stayed at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Jerusalem, just a
15-minute walk away from the apartment my wife and I were renting near
the German Colony. But they didn’t mind. They were happy to walk. It
seemed they would do it all day, every day, as they waited for us to
come back from work.
My mother loved to shop. For some inexplicable
reason she would hit the same Judaica stores on Rehov Ben-Yehuda each
year – despite the fact that their selection never seemed to change.
She would be there for hours, going back and forth, comparing prices,
joking with the owners, until she would finally settle on something,
which, given the time and effort it took to find, inevitably looked
extremely small: carved metal Shabbat candle holders, Kiddush cups,
halla covers – and all, without fail, for friends or family. Although
she later described my father as the “worst person to go shopping
with,” he would always be with her.
And she would be with him when
they went to the sites that he always wanted to revisit. The Western
Wall was one of his favorite spots, Mahaneh Yehuda, as well – there was
one place there that, he says, sold the best sweet halla – and, on
occasion, day excursions outside of the capital.
I found it amazing
how, year after year since I made aliya in 2003, they could come and
continually act like first-time tourists. After three years, I figured
the routine would just go on forever.
But it didn’t.
It was the beginning of January 2007 when they got back to New York
from another trip here. Two months later my mom was confined to a
wheelchair – permanently, according to many doctors. They called it
paraneoplastic syndrome, an extremely rare disease which, in certain
cases, wreaks havoc on the central and peripheral nervous systems, and
ultimately makes it impossible to walk, eat independently or talk
The weeks following the diagnosis were a fog of emotion and
uncertainty. But coming so soon after their trip, at least one thought
was clear: They would never be able to visit the country again. How
could they, after all? Managing in a place they had lived for a quarter
of a century would be hard enough, but traveling by plane across an
ocean, to a land which, at first glance, doesn’t appear to be the most
disabled friendly – it seemed an impossibility.
But it’s not impossible, either for them or for any other
wheelchair-bound tourist. And last month, when the pain of separation –
both from the country they loved and from my growing family – had
finally become unbearable, they discovered just how feasible such a
This is in excerpt of a feature article from this week's issue of the "Magazine