Blessed greetings

Yesterday I got a chance to take a walk on the beach in Ashkelon after a work-related trip to that coastal city about an hour away from Jerusalem. I miss the sea, so I totally loved the air, the sight, the feel, the smell, – everything about that little visit to the beach.

As I was leaving, I noticed this sign:

IMG_0534.JPG

The literal translation of the Hebrew would be something like: “May you go out to peace”. Not quite like “See you again”, huh? But it is cultural! If you were to say in English “May you go out to peace” or “Leave in peace” or something like that, you would think that you were leaving some type of religious institution and not the beach!?!

This is part of what I love about living in Israel, – the way we greet each other. You know, whenever you say “Welcome” in Hebrew, you are actually saying “Blessed are those who come”. Blessing each other is part of the culture and the way the language is built up.

And at this time of the year, in addition to wishing each other a happy and sweet new year, we wish each other “Gmar chatima tova”, basically meaning “May you have your name written in the book of life”. Now, – where else in the world does one go around saying that type of thing to parents at the school, supermarket clerks, neighbors, – anyone?! Only in Israel.

I love the blessings of Israel.

Wishing each other a safe and quiet week.

I have always enjoyed the fact that we have greetings for all kinds of different times and situations here in Israel. People other places can of course also wish each other a good week, but here it is something that is really done.

“Shavua tov” – “Good Week”, we start wishing each other as soon as Shabbat is over.

And then there are several variations of this. One could wish each other “Shavua Mevurach” – “Blessed Week”. Or: – May we have a Shavua Gashum, – a Rainy Week, as we according to the calendar have just started our much needed rainy season.

Or we could say as I hear said these days: “May we have a “Shavua Sheket, – u’be’ikar Batuach”… – A Quiet Week, and most importantly a Safe Week… As soon as you notice this variation used on the radio or TV or something, you know that they are not saying it for no good reason, this means that chances are pretty big things will not actually remain all that quiet and safe.

This was how we started last week, for example, and on one single day that week we had 80 rockets fired at the southern part of our country, with several direct hits on houses. (*What? You didn’t hear about it? Nobody mentioned it on the news you listen to??…why am I not surprised…)

Here, on the other hand, yes, we did hear about it. As I am taking my own children to a local school in our part of Jerusalem, I hear announced on the radio that schools will be closed in several of our major cities in the south. Think of how this influences the life of all those families! Not only are their normal schedules completely thrown off track, – they end up spending most of their time in or in the near vicinity of their bomb shelters! Imagine what that does to all those children! No, stop, and really think about it! Imagine it is some of the people you care about! Put faces to them! Before we do this, it is as though we don’t really care… We just don’t let it come close enough to us.

Beach in Ashkelon, one of the cities where the schools were closed last week.

Israel did hit back to stop this war against our country and our citizens, and yes, it did stop somewhat, for a few days. But then again today, a new week that we wish each other will be quiet, and most importantly safe... And there we go again, – rockets are falling in the south, and schools are closed in Beer Sheva.

English: Looking down on the city of Be\'er Sh...

 And we keep on praying. We keep on hoping. We keep on coping. We keep on living. We actually keep on celebrating life! We keep on building our country in spite of everything!

Most importantly: – God keeps on being faithful to His promises! None of us would be here if it wasn’t for Him…