family time, hiking, hiking in Israel

Enjoying This Beautiful Land

It’s been hard for me to write anything for the last few months. There is simply too much to say and not enough words with which to say it.

Today was a national holiday in Israel for municipal elections. These elections are taking place throughout the country, except for some northern and southern towns where the elections aren’t currently possible because of the lack of safety and the more than 100,000 internally displaced people from these areas. Keep in mind that two of the candidates that were planning to run for seats in some of the southern neighborhoods were slaughtered on October 7; Ofir Libstein, the head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, who was killed fighting terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza and Tamar Kedem Siman Tov, who was murdered along with her husband and three young children.

Even elections are heavy around here.

For the first time since October 7th, we actually took the day to go back to nature and to enjoy some time as a family. It’s hard not to feel guilty about taking time out from the war, when we know that so many people are fighting and serving (including two of our boys) and that there are still more than 100 captives in Gaza.

At the same time, the war is being fought so that families can enjoy this beautiful land; so that we can do the simple act (that people around the world take for granted) of safely hiking, eating and enjoying in our own neighborhoods and parks; on our own mountains and streets.

It was just a gorgeous day to relax, relish the incredible variety of flowers we have here in Israel, and spend time with family.

It was also moving to see many young fathers, both in uniform and in street clothes, spending time with their families. We could tell that many of them were relishing this time away from the battlefield, this time to enjoy a simple day with their wives and kids, and this time to breathe a bit, perhaps before returning to the army. There was also a large group of young children that walked by together, and Josh and I both thought that it was unusual to see a camp or school group out on a national holiday. And then we both said, “Oh, I bet these are displaced kids.” And sure enough, one of them walked by twirling a Kibbutz Nirim hat and I could only imagine what these children have seen and what their displaced lives have been like now for almost five months.

Even a hike is heavy around here. But also beautiful.

May all of those fighting and all of those stolen be able to enjoy a simple day of fresh air, beautiful flowers and freedom of movement soon.

And may we be granted many more safe days, years, generations… to enjoy the sunshine and the beauty offered by our incredible Land.

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