Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Jew Cred"

I went to Israel for the first time this past March. After I returned home, my mom mentioned to her aunt, Ilene, that I had been traveling in the Holy Land. The next time that I spoke with Ilene she was (of course) thrilled that I had gone (as those of you with Jewish relatives can imagine) but also wanted to know why I hadn't contacted our family while I was in the neighborhood.

Family? In Israel?
I let her know that I meant no offense...I just had no idea that they existed. Well, they do, and before I knew it I was emailing Taly, who lives in Haifa. She assured me that she and the rest of the family were excited to meet me and that I should call as soon as I landed in Israel.

When I related this story to my brother, his comment was " in Israel. Well, I guess at least that gives us some Jew cred."

I did call Taly once I arrived and last week and she invited me up to Haifa to have dinner Friday night with her, her mother, Nahama, and two of her kids, Bar (16) and Guy (19). I took the train up to Haifa on Friday and Guy picked me up from the station (he's in the picture above, on the left.) He and his friend Daniel showed me around the city and took me to a sweet hummus place, and introduced me to a bunch of Israeli music.

At dinner that night, Guy and I made a valliant attempt to figure out exactly how we're related. Apparently my mom's aunt is Guy's grandmother's second cousin...meaning that we are only slightly more related than any two random people on the street...but hey, who's counting? Taly then told us all an amazing story about how, when she got out of the army and was living on a kibbutz, a relative contacted her about some other family member, Jeff (who Taly had never met) who was coming to Israel from the states. Jeff ended up staying with Taly for months and they got along really well and became really close. Months later, when they finally tried to sort out what, exactly, the familial connection between them was...they realized that they weren't actually related at all! Instead, Jeff was related to a friend of one of Taly's relatives. However, by that time she said it didn't matter any more -- he was (and still is!) part of the family.

Anyway, it was great getting to know everyone. And, 'Jew cred' or not, it's really nice to feel like I have family here.

Haifa cable car.

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