Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Next Year: A Kosher, Happy and Healthy Pesach

For Rosh Hashanah, we wish each other a happy, healthy New Year. For Pesach, instead of "healthy" we wish for a "kosher" Pesach. We could have used "healthy" this Pesach.
Petachya attends gan, and brought home with him along with a kiddush cup for the Seder and a mini-hagadah, a case of shigella. He suffered for about a week before Pesach, until we finally decided to get him antibiotics.
Everyone was fine, getting ready for the Seder. Then Leah got sick. It wasn't fair for her to miss the Seder, so we pushed the couch over next to the table. She leaned like the Romans of old, but you can't really say that she ate that much, if anything at all. Antibiotics for her.
After Yom Tov, we had a couple of sick-free days. Actually, one sick-free day, which we spent in Yerushalayim at a family-wide picnic. It's something of a tradition for everyone to get together, and we were happy to join it.
The next morning, Simcha woke up not feeling well. Maybe it's just a bug. (Sure.) We dragged him to a community-wide family event run by a company called Nivutteva (which means "Navigation in Nature") in which families navigated around a state park trying to find different stations. It was really a great event. Sadly, Simcha spent the second half of it on the ground, getting sicker. Antibiotics for him.
By Friday morning, he was already feeling better, bringing us to decision time: should we travel to Otniel to visit cousins, as we had long planned, or should we stay home owing to Simcha's illness? We wisely elected to stay home, pushing the visit to Otniel to the last day of the chag. Why wisely? Because while Simcha was much better by Shabbat evening, Rena was starting to feel sick, and by Shabbat morning was totally out of commission. Much Tylenol ensued, as well as antibiotics for her.
Sunday rolled around, and while the proposed tiyyul to Susya was out of the question (Rena still weak), we were willing to travel to Otniel as long as our cousins knew what they were getting themselves into. They conferred, and called back to tell us that they "didn't care if they got sick afterward, as long as we came to visit." We were touched. And off to Otniel.
It was a great chag. First of all, we appreciated the invitation, but being at home alone was beginning to get us down. It's one thing to be a rabbi in a community, when you know that you're not able to travel to family for Yom Tov. Most years some family came and visited for Pesach, if not my mother, a sibling. We have many fond seder memories with family.
But this Pesach, I found spending the chag without family more difficult than usual. It's a reality of aliyah for many: living here is very rewarding and wonderful, but we do miss our immediate family very much, especially on Pesach. (It doesn't help that Pesach is a very, very family-oriented time. In our little street, we were the only family out of eight that stayed home for the first day of the chag. It was very, very quiet.) So, getting out and spending a day of Yom Tov with others was terrific. The food was great. The company was wonderful. One small problem.
Bezalel got sick. He was really a trooper, because being sick away from home is the pits.
More Tylenol. More antibiotics.
Meanwhile, Yom Tov has ended, and hopefully, life will return to normal.
They say that new Olim often get sick. They don't call you an oleh-chadash, but a choleh-chadash. It's taken a year for our bodies to adjust to this new environment. This year, we can really call ourselves cholim chadashim. And, at the same time, we're grateful for our great doctor, and thankful that our sicknesses have been treatable and short-lived.
Next year, I'll hope not only for a happy and kosher Pesach, but for a healthy one as well.