Yom Ha Atzmaut.

We have had a great day celebrating the birthday of our young state here, 3000 years old, and 65 years young! This ancient land has a new and thriving state built and being built, – and we get to be a part of it!!!

Yom Ha Atzmaut muffins

Last night we were downtown Jerusalem along with thousands of others, dressed in Israeli flags carrying huge plastic blow-up hammers, celebrating our country! It was Yom ha Atzmaut! Independence Day! There was music, there was dancing, there was immense JOY!!! And there was this incredible feeling of togetherness! We had just come out of a difficult day of painful memories, and now we were ready to celebrate what these guys had died for, what we get to live for!

erev yom ha atzmaut

And today we got up early to drive out and get in line to visit an army base that was open to the public for the occasion. This was not just any open army base for us, it was the army base that a great friend of ours serves on. The children were excited to see one of “her” planes, and here they got to pose together with her in front of her F-15!

in front of the F-15

We had a wonderful time walking around learning about the various airplanes of our Air-Force.

at the Air-Force Army Base

And of course watching some of them fly above us was a thrilling experience! Here are some huge helicopters, Sikorskys, that we got to see a couple of times in the air.

helicopters

Driving around today, there were lots of cars decorated with flags. And even though we were in really large traffic-jams, it didn’t stress us out, – because this was all just lots of great zionists being out and about celebrating our country, – what could be more wonderful than that??

our decorated car

Having shown you our decorated car from the front, I have to also show it to you from the back, as there is something there that I still haven’t shown you…

car

… yes, it’s my marathon club sticker. I choose to show it today, because my heart, my thoughts and my prayers have also been in Boston today. The whole thing is just so unbelievable! All we can do is sigh to God, pray for healing for the injured, comfort for the families who lost their loved ones. My son who is in third grade, prayed in tears for the class of third graders who will not get their friend back to their class, as he was killed in the bombing of the Boston Marathon yesterday.

car

On our way back up to Jerusalem, we again saw the ruins of the vehicles that were used in the attempt to bring supplies into the sieged Jerusalem just  before the establishment of the state. Now they were decorated with flags, honoring all those who lost their lives trying to help the people in Jerusalem.

ruined vehicles in Shaar HaGai

Oh, how these things are interconnected. Death. Life. Some died so that others could live. Those of us who are blessed to get to live, – may we live life to the fullest! May our lives be used as positive building blocks! May we keep on building our country!

Remembering together.

Today our flag is on half mast.

half mast Israeli flag

These are such emotional days. Over breakfast today we all shared stories of people we remember on this day, Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and terror-victims. It really touched my heart to see the tears on the young cheeks of my children, deeply saddened by stories of people who so tragically had lost their lives in the fight for our country.

At school they had talked about a girl who had studied there, who later, on the same day as she started 8th grade, had happened to stand next to a terrorist with a bomb strapped to himself, and blew up with him and everyone around her. Then there was the woman who stood on a bus stop not far from their school, and a terrorist came and put a knife into her heart.

memorial wall at school

memorial wall at school

Abba told stories of people who he had served together with in the army. The guy in the bunk-bed below him, a father of several children, who was shot down and killed on the spot. The guy he had served with for many years, who had a young son and a pregnant wife at home, when he one foggy morning was killed defending our country.

I remember that morning very well. We had been married for four years. No children yet. My husband was in the army for reserve duty, I was home alone. Still in bed, I received a very quick phone call from my dear one in uniform. He just wanted to let me know something had happened on his base, I would hear about it on the news, he could not give any details, but wanted to let me know he was OK. That was it. I remember waiting for the 6.30 news on the radio, where we heard that one of our bases by Gaza had been attacked, and that some of our soldiers had been hit. I sure was glad I had heard from my soldier that morning, but my heart was already aching for those who would never hear from theirs again.

That morning four of our soldiers were injured and four were killed. I visited one of the injured ones at a hospital in Jerusalem. He was a lone soldier, a basketball-player, he had been shot three times in the knee. That was the end of his basket-ball career.

Later, after my husband was back from army duty, we went together to a memorial for his friend that he had served with for a long time. His little son was so cute. The whole story was so sad. This summer it will be ten years ago, and there will be another special memorial service.

Today we all remember the ones we were close to. Our neighbor remembers his brother, who was shot down by an arab who worked for him. Each one has his own special ones that he remembers. At the same time, we remember together. We are in this together. This sorrow, this remembrance, the fight for our country, the defense of our country, the building of our country. The remembering is a central part of our identity, of who we are.

There are ceremonies all over the country today. In cemeteries, at schools, it seems all of us somehow are part of it. We stood in silence at 11 o’clock when the siren sounded all over our country. People who were out driving or on the street, stopped in their tracks. We were at the school, and stood there together as the opening part of a very moving ceremony. We listened to songs and poems, remembered each of those who had gone to that school and later been killed in a war of terror-attacks. We cried together. Prayed together. Remembered together. Remembered those who are the silver platter on which our Jewish state is served to us…

school memorial ceremony

Tonight, after 24 hours of intense remembering and honoring of those who have given their lives for our country, we will move on to celebrate our independence, our freedom, our country. This year we are celebrating the 65th birthday of the modern state of Israel. This is a fact that every preschooler in this country knows. Ask a Norwegian or an American five year old how old their state is, – would they be able to tell you? Maybe, maybe not. Israelis know.

Israeli flags

Privileged to live in the Land of Israel.

Friday I found myself driving a car full of gum-chewing, I-Pad playing kids to a baseball-game about an hour outside of Jerusalem. (*They were playing the baseball-game, it was just on the way there and back that they played on the I-Pad! 😉 Anyway, all of a sudden, as I was looking around at the terraced hills of Judea, it struck me again, – how privileged I am who gets to live my life right here! To do all these every-day-life tasks right here, in a place with thousands of year of real unique history!

The amazing view from Mt.Eval, where we visited during Pesach-week.

The amazing view from Mt.Eval, where we visited during Pesach-week.

I guess every place has its history, it is just that here, the history means so much to us! These places are so central to our faith! We can look around at the same views (*well, close to the same views…) as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did when they walked the land!! Quite amazing! And here I am just driving to a baseball-game!! I have to remind the kids to look around, – “look at the hills, they are still green, and they are not going to stay green for much longer.” They take a super-short break and look up from the I-Pad: – “Ah, yes, they look nice.” Not very impressed, this is just where they are growing up, home.

Savyon from the land of Israel

Savyon from the land of Israel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I was back on the road again. This time it was a work-related trip to Haifa, and I so enjoyed taking in the views of the Land of Israel, the Land that has been built up so greatly during the 65 years since the modern state of Israel was established. And what did I do in Haifa? I met with ten different immigrant families and helped them in practical ways in their process of settling in their new homeland. This is also something I always find very inspiring, – God’s prophecies are being fulfilled! He is bringing His people back to the Land that He promised them thousands of years ago!

All of this is extra special and relevant these days, because tonight we are starting our solemn Memorial day for the Holocaust victims, and next week we have the Memorial day for fallen soldiers and others who have given their life for the Land of Israel, and then we celebrate our great Independence Day. These days are all somewhat connected. Now we are focusing on the tragedy of the holocaust. We still have survivors among us, and we read their stories in the newspapers and magazines, hear them on the radio and see them on TV these days. It hurts our hearts to learn about what they had to go through, and about all their dear ones that they lost. But then when we see them with their families, – children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, – then we see who are the real victors! The faith and hope in life and a future is what has kept them going!   They have spent their lives building up their lives, their families, their country. And now we are building together with them, continuing what generations before us started. It is all very exciting when you start thinking about it! We get to take our little part right now, and in that way we get to be part of something really, really huge, – we get to take a tiny little part in God’s huge plan! What a privilege!

Back to every-day-life.

blueberry muffins

Pesach is over, Pesach-vacation is over, and we are fully and officially back to every-day-life. I feel like I got a lot done today (definitely a good feeling!), – countless loads of laundry, cleaned the house, made a double batch of blueberry muffins, got some work done, went for a wonderful run, – all while the kids were still at school!

blueberry muffins

I guess other parents can also relate to the fact that the way the day looks and everything, is quite different depending on if the kids are home or not. The moment they enter, there is lunch, homework, afternoon-activities to drive to, etc. etc.

Our son's baseball practice this afternoon

Our son’s baseball practice this afternoon

A different kind of busyness. It might feel less productive at the moment, but I believe time invested in ones children is the most important investment one can possibly make! So I really want to be present and ready for all those opportunities for good conversation and quality time.

our princess in the hammockBut the time I have in the morning to do “my things” and not just the “mom-things”, really helps me out, so I am thankful that I have a bit of both! 🙂

kids in hammock

Fresh Foccachia Bread

Ever since I started making Foccachia-bread, there has been a drastic decrease in bread-rolls here in the household. This is just SO much easier! And really, really yummy!

Foccachia

Now after Pesach and our break from leavened breads and all kinds of baked goods, we are more than ready for it! So today we have refilled our kitchen with fresh chametz (leaven) and I am looking forward to lots of baking and filling up our freezer and cookie-boxes again!

It always feels a little bit weird as you open your first bag of flour in the kitchen, after working so hard to remove anything like that very recently. But, – there truly is a time and a season for everything. And right now is a pretty perfect time for some fresh bread. So here comes my Foccachia Recipe:

foccachia bread making

FOCCACHIA

5 cups flour

3 teaspoons dry yeast

2 Tablespoons salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

4 Tablespoons olive oil

2 1/3 cups lukewarm water

extra olive oil, salt and spices to put on top

foccachia bread mixing

You mix all the ingredients together, either by hand or by an electric mixer. The dough is very wet, but don’t worry, and don’t add more flour, it is supposed to be wet, and you are not going to have to knead it and shape it into anything.

Leave it to rise until doubled in size.

Then dump it onto a baking sheet, and with olive oil on your hands just stretch and flatten the dough out until it fills the sheet. Add plenty of olive oil, salt and spices on top.

foccachia

Here I have added rosemary, but other times I have often put sundried tomatoes and basil. You can really do whatever you prefer and have available. It is also tasty to add these additions inside the dough as well as on top.

Let it rise a bit again, while the oven heats up till at least 200 degrees Celsius. Then bake until browned on top. Enjoooooy the smell of fresh bread that fills your house!

fresh foccachia

And then enjoy your homemade fresh bread! Now wasn’t that easy??! No wonder we do this every week! 🙂

Foccachia

Some highlights from Pesach.

How time flies! Pesach is already over! And I sit here with yet another glas of wine and a heart full of wonderful memories from the past week.

It has been lovely to have time for late, long and lazy breakfasts with good friends.

Pesach breakfast

We feel privileged to live our lives in Jerusalem and be able to hang out here during another pilgrim-holiday when Jews from all over come up to our city.

Jerusalem kids

We had a fun picnic in a large Jerusalem park together with lots of friends, but since I am not sure if they would like to appear on a photo on the blog, I choose to show you one of the kite we flew instead… 😉

Jerusalem kite

Several nights we have sat with friends around a small bonfire in our garden and told stories, sung songs and barbecued marshmallows, – and tonight as Pesach and the feast of unleavened bread was over, we made our first real bread over the fire too

small bonfire

A big highlight was the day-trip we made out to Har Eval in Samaria, where Joshua‘s 3 200 year old Altar was found about 30 years ago.

Joshua's Altar

Joshua’s Altar

It was a really unique experience, as this is not an easy place to get to, and most people do not get the opportunity to visit it. Har Eval was the place Joshua and the Israelites came to after crossing the Jordan and entering the Land of Israel. This is were they were sworn in to the Land, so to speak. For us zionists, this is all pretty exciting!

Har Eval hike

The hike out there was really beautiful.

view from har Eval

The views were really amazing! We were able to see most of our country, really! We even saw all the way to the snowy Mt. Hermon!

We have hosted and been hosted and enjoyed lots of holiday meals with dear friends and family. Even today, as the whole week of celebrations was coming to an end, we had another highlight as we sat around a long table here in our home. We were sharing the Meal of the Messiah together, Seudat Ha Mashiach. This particular meal consists exclusively of Matza / Unleavened bread and Wine. And as we shared this together we focused on the Messiah, who He is etc. This is a growing tradition within several groups of Jews, and always something we look forward to!

Matza Photo

Yes, we have been blessed with yet a wonderful Pesach! I am very thankful for the celebrated freedom and redemption, and for family and friends!