Yes, Israel is a small country. And yes, it feels like half of it goes up North in August (and the other half leaves for European hiking and beach locations). But it still surprises me every time that my kids run into their friends while we are on vacation.
We just returned from a 4 day trip up North. I booked the location very last minute, and simply wanted to be somewhere near the Kiryat Shemona area. I didn’t realize at the time when I booked this beautiful house in Sde Nechemia that we were staying on the Yarden (the Jordan River).
There was a sweet little path right outside the Kibbutz gate that opened onto a rolling grassy field. And the field ran along the Yarden. Each afternoon, we brought our floating devices and sat along the river, watching the boats go by (and watching our children jump in to enjoy the free ride down the current for a few meters at a time).
The best moments on the trip were when my older two (who appear to know the world) ran into their friends. I always find it so surprising when they do, and they seem to think it’s the most natural thing in the world. Of course Amichai or Amitai or Shmuli would be right there – exactly when you are – on their vacation.
The classic moment was when my oldest suddenly noticed a friend in one of the rafts. “Amrussi” he screamed, while peeling off his shirt and shoes and running through the crowds of sunbathers. “Sussman???” was the reply from farther away, as the boat started to descend down the Yarden. Then my son, full speed ahead, hurled himself into the river and swam with all his might to catch up. The friend extended his oar and reached for my son, quickly pulling him into the boat and into a warm embrace (since it’s been 3-4 days since they’ve seen each other at Yeshiva). The two caught up in the boat…which I realized was now taking my son away from his family along the Yarden and over the approaching water fall.
Never fear. After catching up for a few minutes (and going through a mild rapid), he jumped ship and found his way back to the shore and to us.
This was but one of many encounters. Only a few hours (or minutes) would go by before we would, yet again, hear “Sussman!” coming from some corner of the Yarden or the Kinneret, or while on a hike, and turn around to find a grinning teenage boy ready to embrace his friend.
Summer in Northern Israel.
Only, perhaps, in Romania last summer did we run into more Israelis.