Thursday, December 28, 2006

Joy

All of us grow up in a certain environment, and take things for granted. The language that our parents use become ours, the foods that we are served train our palates in a specific way, and the weather is usually nothing more than the backdrop to our daily lives.

I grew up in upstate New York, in a place where it would start snowing in late November and continue through March. I remember being thrilled to see the first crocus sometime in February or March, and spring fever was more than just a phrase.

The first snow of the season was fun, but quickly lost its appeal, especially since I had a long walk to school (starting in junior high).

There was one first snow that I will never forget though.

In my city the Jewish elementary school depended in large part on Israeli shlichim (or yordim - those who left Israel for good) for their Hebrew language teachers and, in some cases, their religious studies teachers.

When I was in fifth or sixth grade, one of my teachers was an Israeli, who came to America with a few young kids who studied in our school. One cold day in late November the inevitable white flakes started to fall, and we looked with interest out of the window, but continued with our lesson.

Then one of the teachers came to the door with a wide smile on her face and beckoned everyone to come quickly. We had no idea what she wanted, but our teacher gave us permission to leave our seats and follow her. She then led us to a wide window, and we looked out onto a wonderful sight.

One of our new teacher's children was outside. Growing up in Israel, he had never seen snow before, and today was a very special day for him. To our amused eyes, he was literally singing and dancing as the delicate white flakes surrounded him. Every once in a while he would open his mouth to let a snowflake fall onto his tongue, trying to enjoy this new experience with as many senses as possible. Many of us then raced to get our coats and gloves, and ran outside to teach him the other ways to enjoy the snow (snowmen and snowball fights predominated - there still wasn't enough on the ground to teach him about snow angels, though).

The teachers looked at us through the window. As a child I couldn't really understand the expression on their faces, but as an adult looking back I can. They were looking with wonder, and probably a bit of envy, at someone who was experiencing the pure joy of a new and exciting experience.

I can understand their envy today. When was the last time you felt that kind of joy? I feel that way once in a while in Israel, as I discover another thing that I love about this country. But otherwise it is a feeling that comes only once in a blue moon.

When was the last time you felt pure joy?

20 Comments:

Blogger Jerusalem Joe said...

i don't know about pure joy, but i sure enjoyed this post.
snow in Israel is so much more fun than in the states!

9:52 AM, December 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweet post! Brought tears to my eyes, cuz THIS is exactly what we experienced yesterday!!! I even posted pictures I was so excited. :) Thanks for the smile.

3:11 PM, December 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joy...

Here, but it was not precisely pure. And you will, probably, say that Ahavat Yisrael forbids it anyway ;-)

Well, an snow is something I had more than enough in that previos life.

4:35 PM, December 28, 2006  
Anonymous Robert J. Avrech said...

Yesterday, my daughter called from Yerushalayim where she's attending seminary to tell me that it was snowing. I could hear her smiling hugely over the phone.

Also: My latest post started out as a response to your comment, but it got too long, hence it's a separate entry on my blog. Just didn't want you to think I was ignoring your comment. Kol Tuv.

1:20 AM, December 29, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

jerusalemjoe - what a nice comment! thank you...

emah s - first snow huh? Will you post the pics on the blog?

snoopy - something tells me not to look...

robert - I'll go on over to see now. Anyway, you are such a polite blogger (always answering every comment) that I would probably assume time constraints anyway.

9:09 AM, December 29, 2006  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

When was the last time you felt pure joy?

Tuesday night- just watching my children play together.

9:49 AM, December 29, 2006  
Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

dear west bank,

a lovely post! writing such as this reminds us to be more vigilantly appreciative of fleeting beauty in our lives.

i am ...

very sincerely yours,

alan d. busch

p.s. in answer to your question, i've sent an email.

11:28 AM, December 29, 2006  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

...the last time I felt pure joy? About 6 weeks ago, walking down Derech Beit Lechem with my husband, following dinner in a KOSHER restaurant (a rarity in my former digs), and realizing that we were HERE in Israel, in Jerusalem. It took me a few minutes to figure out what that wierd feeling was? I haven't know this kind of contentment and joy in years.

3:37 PM, December 29, 2006  
Blogger Mother of Israel said...

Standing at the Kotel with tears streaming down my face, seeing my daughter reach out and touch the stones in the Western Wall Tunnel tour that are the closest to the Holy of Holies. Every minute and second that we spent in Israel!

4:35 AM, December 31, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

jack - yes, the kids can do it for me too...

alan - haven't checked my email for a while, but I will now...

aliyah06 - yes, that "we really did it" feeling is great!

mother of israel - wow, the Kotel! I'm really glad you had a wonderful time here in Israel

9:03 AM, December 31, 2006  
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