Jerusalem, Israel, December 23rd, 2019
1st Day of Chanukah
Sometimes mindfulness of the past can make the Present Moment all the more significant. That was true for me on the First Day of Chanukah this past December.
Looking out at a gathering of friends and family who came to join me for a book-signing at Pomeranz Bookstore, the largest English bookstore in Israel, and located in Jerusalem, felt like a miracle in keeping with the Chanukah holiday that we were all celebrating so happily.
Throughout the many (18) years that Teena and I worked on our book, we always started with a lunch of soup or salad and talked about our dreams and visions for the future about our book. One of those dreams was to picture ourselves in Israel, sharing our book with people there. Those visions helped to keep us motivated and focused, though when it actually happened, I was initially very distracted by greeting and hugging family and friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. I almost forgot that I was living our dream.
It’s interesting that for a dream to come true, it needs to come down to earth. We need to take care of mundane and ordinary tasks. It was my sister, Miryam Devora’s, idea to think about the book-signing as a reality and to offer to contact and make the arrangements with the owners of Pomeranz Bookstore. Initially they were reluctant to do it during Chanukah since it was such a busy time for families to be together. But it was the only time I was going to be in Israel. After some persuasion by my sister, they agreed.
Then there was the effort needed to get the word out — emails, Facebook, WhatsApp chats. I had to order more books and buy a plastic crate to bring all the books from the States to Israel, in addition to paying for the extra baggage. Enumerating these tasks is only meant to show how easy it is to lose track of the reality of a dream coming true in the midst of the down-to-earth details that need to be taken care of.
And then there was the effort that everyone who attended made to get to the bookstore. Beyond that, some people, like Maya Parkoff, a friend of our family, who happens to be a photographer, also “coincidentally” was in Israel that week and willingly took photographs of the event — the ones you see here — so we could have a permanent reminder of our book-signing.
After everyone gathered together and got seated in the brightly-lit front section of the bookstore the owners had set aside for us, I finally stopped and took a moment to take it all in. My sisters, their husbands, nieces, friends who made aliyah years ago, friends who happened to be in Israel for Chanukah, and my husband were all there to celebrate with me (and Teena in absentia). And then there were those from my past who weren’t there — my father, z”l, who passed away more than 20 years ago and my mother, a”h, who passed away three years ago and who had been so supportive and encouraging about our writing. Yet, at that moment, I sensed they actually were there and I felt their loving presence.
Even more on my mind was where I had been exactly four years to the day earlier. Before I began to speak about our book, and especially its connection to the holiday of Chanukah that we were celebrating, I shared with everyone that even though it hadn’t been intentionally planned, the gathering for the book-signing was happening on a very significant date in my life, a day of a true miracle. Exactly four years before, on December 23, 2015, I was being wheeled into surgery to remove a benign tumor in the lining of my brain that was obstructing blood flow. Having had no symptoms related to the tumor, but following up on other symptoms, an MRI revealed the tumor. Thank G-d, my gifted surgeon and his team were able to remove the tumor, and I have not had any difficulties since.
So now there I was, four years later to the exact day, celebrating our book, celebrating Chanukah, celebrating being in the holy city of Jerusalem, celebrating friends and family, and celebrating the Present Moment.