Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Chatzos Challenge, Back from the Holy Land: Even our Cousins Know About Chatzos

Reflections, observations, and general musings from our family's month in Israel.

 I could write at least six posts about cousins. The topic seemed to come up again and again during our trip (for example, I met cousins that I didn't even know I had!). On our very first erev Shabbos in Israel, we had a reminder that there are other sorts of cousins around.

During the first half of our trip, we stayed with an amazing family in Hashmonaim, a small community about 5 minutes outside of Modi'in. How we met our very special hosts and all of the wonderful things that we learned from them will have to be the topic of another post. Suffice to say, they are models of how to do chesed. Our hosts' selfless drive to give is not what is important to this post, though. What is important is that you understand that Hashmonaim teeters the line (ie pre-1967 v. post 1967 land). After the start of the second intifada, Israel constructed a security barrier as a deterrent to would be terrorists. Hashmonaim sits right on the Israel side of the security barrier.

My husband has a nickname for the folks that live on the other side of the security barrier—los primos. Technically speaking, they are cousins. Very moody, dysfunctional, sometimes violent cousins. And because cousins are still family, they can't be all bad, right?

On our very first Friday afternoon is a good example. Our hostess in Hashmonaim is a chatzos-y type, too. She does all of her Shabbos prep on Thursday—and then relaxes on Friday. My type of lady (in more ways than this!). She did not need any help on Friday (being that she was already done!) so DS and I headed outdoors to enjoy the view of the hills, the weather, the smell of Shabbos cooking in other homes, and the slide in our hosts' backyard. From the backyard, you can see the neighboring town on the other side of the security barrier.

DS and I were having such a grand old time playing farmers that we must of lost track of time. I still had quite a bit to do before Shabbos—our things were a mess from our trip and I wanted to make sure that I got everyone showered early in the day (before the jet lag really hit them). My little chatzos experiment has become so ingrained in my head that I wanted to make sure to get as much as possible down before chatzos. But the weather! And the flowers! And the air! There is really nothing like playing outside in Israel—you can almost smell the kedusha. We must have lost track of time.

B"H, los primos kept me on track for chatzos on my first Shabbos in Israel! A short time after their noon call to prayer, they headed outside to make their presence known to the surrounding communities. POP POP POP! After I coxed my very indignant son back inside, I asked if I should be concerned.

"NO!" my host told me, "This is just their friendly reminder that Shabbat is coming! They are nice enough to remind us it is midday—only half a day until Shabbat—every week!"

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