I’m a genuine genealogy junkie. (Try saying that sentence fast ten times. Okay, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, but don’t say I never offer interactive articles.)  Getting back to the topic at hand - I feel a mental, emotional, and even physical thrill whenever I come across new information. Every tidbit, no matter how small or trivial, is a piece of the puzzle of my family history. This puzzle is the most challenging one I’ve ever done. There is no picture to use as a reference point.  The pieces don’t come in a box.  It takes an inordinate amount of time, which I most often don’t have.  And it will never be completely finished.  But it’s also the most enjoyable and rewarding puzzle I’ve ever done.  It’s not a two-dimensional flat thin object; rather it’s something above time and place, providing me with eye-opening information about my roots, and filling me with pride regarding my lineage.  The further back in time I go, the more intriguing the information.  I’ve traveled across continents to remote villages where people walk around with pickaxes and chickens roam freely the streets, to get a taste of what life was like for my ancestors who lived there about a century ago. 

We are a nation that remembers. We remember Yetzias Mitzrayim every day, we fast to commemorate events that happened thousands of years ago, and we remember the events of most recent generations, including our own.  We are now in the time period when we remember the victims of the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah, as well as the fallen soldiers and victims of terror on Yom HaZikaron.  As the number of living Holocaust survivors decreases, there are those who are determined to make sure that the Holocaust is never forgotten.

Despite the fact that our government is teetering on its last leg, the security situation is worrisome, and rockets are being launched toward our southern communities, Israelis were out and about on Chol HaMoed traversing the length and breadth of our beautiful country. The comfortable weather along with the festive atmosphere beckoned over a million Israelis who flocked to nature reserves, forests, and attractions around the country during the chag.

I’m stuck. I’ve been running around my home, from room to room, cleaning, organizing, and yes, looking for chametz. I filled bags with stuff to give away and throw away, and I got rid of all of our expired medications. I’m slowly finishing off the bread and homemade delicacies left in my freezer and I’m plowing through the last bags of pasta and boxes of cereal in the pantry. I had been on a good schedule and was moving ahead at an efficient pace.  But now I stopped. Short.  I’m up to the point of cleaning out the closet. The upper closet in my room is the storage warehouse of my memories.  Through the keepsakes set aside from various experiences and periods of my life that line my shelves, I’m able to see, hear, touch, and at times, even smell days gone by. All I have to do is open the door and the memories come gushing out like gusts of gale winds, transporting me back in time. 

Nobody can ever accuse me of waiting until the last minute to prepare for Pesach.  No, not me.  I started my prep several weeks ago. I went to the store and bought toothbrushes.  This is one of the most difficult tasks of Pesach prep.  Even here in Israel, the toothbrush section in the supermarket is not as small as it used to be.  So many choices!  Brands galore. Hard.  Soft.  Medium.  With a cover.  Without a cover.  Package of one.  Two.  Economy pack.  Electric.  A rainbow of colors to choose from.  But I did it.

It was very close to Shabbos when my daughter informed me of the sudden passing of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, the Gadol HaDor. I was stunned. True, Rav Chaim was coming along in years, but his passing was unexpected. Many in Yerushalayim were in the midst of their Purim s’udos when the news began to circulate. The loudspeaker in Ramat Beit Shemesh, which normally plays uplifting music just prior to Shabbos, played sad music in light of the news. It happened so quickly that some hadn’t even heard the news until they came to shul on Friday night.