Even though it’s officially more than a year since we made Aliyah, I just now feel as if one full cycle is complete.
My first real memory of our first real family experience here in Israel (one that didn’t involve a government agency) is of Tu B’Shevat.
A week or two after we moved into our house on Hannaton, there was a Tu B’Shevat celebration for children that included arts and craft activities, picking up litter around the grounds, and planting new flowers. I look at the few pictures my friend Shira took of my kids and realize how far they, and we, have come since then. How little, and how American, they were then. And how big, and how Israeli, they have become in just one year.
Evidence of this is not just in their ability to speak Hebrew almost fluently, but in their transformation into real Israeli children.
My children dance when there is rain; my children sing with joy that Tu B’shevat has arrived; and they can identify not just dried fruits and nuts, but also leaves and trees by their Hebrew names. (When I compare what I know about our natural habitat to what they know, I am comforted in knowing that if the economy collapses and we need to depend on our local vegetation for food, they’ll know which ones are edible and which ones are poison.)
The other day, my middle son was home sick from school, but not sick enough for us not to take advantage of the brief break in the rain and to stroll around Hannaton admiring the blossoming trees and snapping photos of the ones tagged with signs in honor of Tu B’shevat. It was a fun mini scavenger hunt for us, and a brief eco-lesson.
When I think of my experience of Tu B’Shevat growing up in the States, I remember a minor holiday celebrated at Hebrew School. I remember coloring in a line art cartoon drawing of a young Israeli pioneer child standing next to a pine tree and bringing home a certificate marking the planting of one by JNF in Israel.
I admit I get a little bit excited that my children are those pioneer children — minus the vintage overalls and cotton baseball cap. Even though it’s 2012 (and not 1948), my children’s hands are dirtied with Israeli soil, their voices sing with pride, and their hearts are filled with the love of Israeli land.