I have no favorite children. I love each of them equally and in abundance. Though I always thought I would have at least four children, God had other plans for me and with that, I have a favorite oldest, middle and youngest. It worked out perfectly. When I was growing up, even though I was the middle of three, I was the least favorite. I am still the least favorite, but my parents have to pretend otherwise because I am the best they have got at this point.
In any event, the goal of our trip to Israel was to see son #2. The best part? Our trip coincided with his 19th birthday. This isn’t because he is my favorite, as his brothers might think, it was actually because of the “son #1 birthday fiasco of 2014.” I learned, first hand, that it takes about six weeks for a birthday package (and I am assuming any type of package) to get to Israel when you send it through the mail. I couldn’t go through that again. So even though I forgot to bring a sign and balloons to hang up in the apartment, I remembered the cards and we were with him—isn’t that the best gift of all?
I learned that many of the bakeries in Israel do not write on the cakes. I looked at them like they were from another planet, “What do you mean you won’t write “Happy Birthday Jonah” on the cake?” “Eh, lady, we don’t have de pen for de cake.” Come on—really? You invented Waze and you don’t have anything to write on a cake with? So we went with cupcakes. His birthday was on a Friday so we invited some boys to come for an oneg where we were staying. I bought all sorts of nosh, I shlepped the St. Louis-now-Los Angeles Rams plates all the way from Amazing Savings and we were good to go.
Um, why didn’t anyone tell me that it hails in Israel? I have never been there in January and was not privy to this vital information. Needless to say, we greeted both the Sabbath Queen and a tyrannical rain/hail storm at the same time. We ate dinner and then waited for the guests to arrive. No one was arriving. I looked at son #2 and said, “I am so sorry Sweetie, looks like Mom will have to eat all of the cupcakes herself.” Pajamas went on, book came out and then there was noise at the door. In the miserable weather, his friends showed up and the bonus was our friends from the Island of Long also showed up—someone loves me!
There was singing, there was dancing, son #2 was lifted up on a chair and then the night got really special. Boys from different schools in Israel gave divrei Torah and son #2’s father (nope, still haven’t come up with a new name) would rate them on a scale of 1-10 (don’t worry, they all got a 10). And even though it was cold and miserable outside, the warmth emanating from this celebration made it all okay.
It was really nice to see all of the new friends that son #2 has made and all of our old favorites. Since they have all been in Israel, I have learned how comfortable my couch is, but still greatly miss seeing them sit on it. Four years of high school flew by and now they are growing beards and becoming relatively independent.
As for the other parts of our trip, if you haven’t been to the Blind Museum, the next time you are in Israel, you must make arrangements to go. I cried for the first 10 minutes out of gratitude for being able to see. Of course even though I warned son #2’s father (sorry, he is also son #1 and son #3’s father) not to make any jokes or comments, he still managed to put his foot in his mouth, but we don’t need to go into that. Another must-see is the Kotel Tunnel Tour. We did the short version—an hour and a half as opposed to three hours and if you are claustrophobic, it might not be the best idea. In order to calm my nerves I kept singing the theme song to Gilligan’s Island, don’t ask me why, but I was at the very back of the line and since there was a 94-year-old woman on our tour I couldn’t complain out loud, so I just sang.
And this concludes the three-part series of Ganchrows Take Israel. Back to our regularly scheduled programming!
By Banji Latkin Ganchrow
Banji Ganchrow knows she needs a new name for the man she married and appreciates all of the suggestions that have come in. As for what she is going to call him, your guess is as good as hers. How do you feel about “my baby daddy”?