I was always a major sports fan. In between participating in a variety of extreme sports, I would go running from stadium to stadium, cheering on my favorite teams.  If you believe that, have I got a bridge to sell you!  I can’t think of anything further than the truth.  But back in the day, I did attend a Knicks game with a friend.  My friend was somewhat of a sports fan and I had always wondered what the big fuss was about, with men running around and throwing balls into baskets.  When we left the stadium a few hours later, my friend was on a high and I was filled with the same questions I’d always had. 

Yael* had had enough!  At the age of 27, she had been living in Yerushalayim and felt she had gone out with every potential boy who had ever stepped foot in the city.  She needed a change desperately, and moved to a mixed moshav up north where religious and secular live together.  Yael had studied Chinese medicine and found a job in Tzfat.  She also registered for classes at Yeshivat Ohr Haganuz, located near Meron.

“As you exit the aircraft, please remember to take all your personal belongings.”  How many times have I heard those words from the stewardess after landing?  My husband and I like to get a lot of bang for our buck, so we often book flights with a stopover when we travel to the United States. It’s an efficient and affordable way to see the world. Our recent trip to New York had a 13-hour layover in London.  The rudimentary itinerary that my husband had prepared did not include major running around.  There would be no “This is beautiful or interesting or fun, but we must move ahead” calls, in order to cover as much ground as humanly possible during every last second available to us.  There would be no “Maybe we can run over to see the English countryside during the four extra minutes we have.”  We would have a relaxing, entertaining, and stress-free day.  Whatever we would manage to see would be perfect. And it was. Pretty much.

An unrecognizable phone number flashes up on my phone screen. That can mean only one thing and one thing only (usually): the Freezer Gemach. In 2017, I opened up a freezer gemach in memory of Rav Aryeh Kupinsky Hy”d, one of the five k’doshim who were murdered in the Har Nof massacre, also an uncle to my daughter-in-law. Rav Aryeh was a big and strong man, legendary for his constant involvement in chesed. When his almost 14-year-old daughter died tragically when she did not wake up one morning a little over two years before Rav Aryeh himself was murdered, he started a freezer gemach in her memory.

The fact that Pilgrims and Puritans emigrated from England to the United States in the 1620s and 1630s and brought with them their previous traditions of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving is not particularly relevant to the lives of most Israelis.  Most Israelis, my children included, don’t even know what Pilgrims or Puritans are.  That’s not to say that we can’t enjoy a tasty cranberry kugel on Thanksgiving Shabbos, but I usually make that anyway. Many American olim continue to celebrate Thanksgiving in Israel.  In neighborhoods heavily populated with Americans, special orders can be placed for turkeys for those who want to celebrate the holiday with a proper Thanksgiving dinner. Volunteers organize a big Thanksgiving dinner for lone soldiers and lone b’not sherut (girls who do national service), who leave their families that live abroad and come to Israel on their own to serve the country. But other than that, Thanksgiving pretty much passes with little fanfare.  No marching bands, performers, giant balloons, or elaborate floats can be seen parading down Rechov Yaffo or Dizengoff.