I spent Shabbat wrestling between the joy of my five year old’s birthday, and the knowledge that Sarah Tchiya Litman’s life, and that of her entire family, will never be the same. Driving Friday afternoon to participate in the pre-wedding celebrations for Sarah’s groom, her father and brother were murdered on the road – with most of her family in the car.
Instead of a wedding on Tuesday, Sarah and her family are sitting shiva.
Throughout Shabbat we had heard sprinklings that something had happened in Paris. Something major.
We came out of Shabbat and were soon in a fog from the carnage, the never-ending devastation that we feel here almost every day, that was now being felt elsewhere as well (and not for the first time).
And so, today, I’m sharing something happy on my blog. Because the sorrow and the devastation are too much, and we can only take so much at a time.
Yakir’s party in kindergarten was on Thursday morning and I wanted to share a few observations. We made Aliyah when my oldest boys were 4 and 2, so I really don’t know what schools do for birthday parties outside of Israel.
But I’ve been so touched, each time that I attend, by what our schools have done for the kids through daycare, nursery school and kindergarten. Israel loves its children, and this love shows through so clearly in the way that they treat the kids for their birthdays.
Years and years ago prior to our Aliyah, Josh and I were visiting friends here in Israel. Everyone was hanging out on a balcony and Josh sat down. Almost immediately, people started screaming. “You can’t sit there!” they said with a mixture of shock and indignation. What had he done?
Turning around, he realized that he was sitting in a seat that was decorated. And there is only one reason that seats are decorated here – for the birthday child (or the bride and groom). And Josh had dared to sit in a seat that every Israeli knows is reserved for the birthday kid.
Today, the memory makes me laugh because, of course, the seat was for a birthday kid. Birthdays are raised to a very special level here in Israel and the children are treated as kings and queens during their celebrations.
|Ubiquitous birthday chairs!|
It’s also amazing to see how well the teachers have the kids in line and how orchestrated the party is down to the last costume and second.
Last week, Yakir shared his party with another boy, Elyasaf, and both moms arrived for the big event. The entire class of 30 kids lined up across from each other to create an arch through which the boys entered the party.
Then, there was a series of songs, each of which had a costume to go with it and an activity. First, he and Elyasaf danced and had five kids holding pom poms dancing around them. Then, he donned a cap and selected a friend with whom to dance (yes, he picked an adorable little girl and I sent her mom the pictures). Then, he and Elyasaf dressed as butterflies and planted a “garden” that said Mazal Tov.
Next, they changed into gardening costumes and they put 6 “apples” on the tree. Each apple had a number on it and they had to put them in the right order.
After this, the moms had to give their children blessings (the dads were at work since it wasn’t the most convenient time for a party and both moms work in the area…) and explain why we gave them the names we did. The teachers gave the boys gifts that the class had made for them, and, finally, the cake was brought out and paraded around before being devoured.
And of course, all of this lasted for exactly the 25 minutes that they said it would. It was beautifully choreographed and gave the kids such a nice feeling about the themselves – and how special they are to all of us.
May Yakir always feel this special and may we continue to enjoy him and to see the beauty in the little things, like a birthday party, for many, many years to come.