It has been two weeks since their move—a week since my brother Simon left—and my parents are firmly ensconced in their new home. Thanks to Simon, almost all the boxes are unpacked and paintings are up on the walls. There’s still more to do, but it can be handled on a more leisurely basis. We’ll get to it “acharai hachagim” (after the holidays), as everyone says here.
I did not anticipate the joy I feel at popping over to my parent’s house to say hello. It is still hard to believe that they are right down the street. I think of them constantly, wonder what they’re doing, how Mom is feeling, though as my days become busy (yes, Rosh Hashanah is literally upon us), my focus strays to other things. I’ve also come to appreciate the profound quiet of my house where I can be alone.
I took Mom to synagogue with me on Shabbat. She was happy to see me, happy to venture out with me for a short walk. At first, she enjoyed listening to the Torah portion being read, but as the minutes passed, she became annoyed. She could not follow the Hebrew text, could not even appreciate the melodic chanting. At some point, I took her with me into the back room of the synagogue and we read a few kids’ books. She enjoyed that. And when we went back into the sanctuary, I was moved by her sweet voice rising in song at the remembered prayers. Prayer is ingrained in us so deeply as to burst out at the slightest of cues.
The best part of the “service” was at the end when Mom got to greet all my friends. She amiably spoke to everyone and was relatively coherent in her conversations. Even the people she’s known for years received exuberant greetings—as if she were meeting them for the first time.
One of the strange aspects of having Mom with me in Beer Sheva is that now she’s entering my world. Whereas before, in Netanya, I felt a certain amount of anonymity in a city that was not mine, now when we are together, we are fully in places that I inhabit. I don’t know how my friends will react to meeting Mom. Most have already proven themselves by listening to her rambling speech and answering her as best they can. One friend even joined us in this strange universe she inhabits by singing show tunes with us as we walked.
Each day brings its challenges and I am thrilled to be close enough to bring joy to Mom when I can. I have stepped into this adventure with my eyes open. So far, the positive outweighs the negative; there are untold benefits that will only emerge with the passing of time.
Meanwhile, Rosh Hashanah starts this Wednesday night. We are busy inviting guests, arranging menus, and trying our best to prepare spiritually for this most important of holidays. This is the start of a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
If I have any wish for this New Year, it is that each individual in my immediate and extended family prospers from this move, and that our physical closeness brings about a stronger emotional closeness, too.
I wish all my readers a sweet New Year filled with joy and laughter and peace.
When I’m cooking for a holiday, I find myself cooking tons of food. Often, I’ll double a recipe so that I can serve it at two different meals. This chicken recipe is so good, my family doesn’t mind eating it twice, and with different guests at each meal, no one is the wiser. The sweet smoky taste of the date honey adds a palpable fragrance to this chicken, perfect for the New Year.
Roasted Chicken with Date Honey
Mom taught me to skin chicken before I cook it as it ishealthier that way. I still believe this to be true. It’s just not as tasty as a roasted chicken with crisp, juicy skin. You decide.
2-3 whole chickens cut in half
6 Tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup date honey
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut whole chickens into halves, removing the neck and any extra skin. Lay skin-side up in a large pan. Mix sauce ingredients and rub onto chickens. Place in oven on 350° for an hour. Remove pan from oven and baste chickens by pouring pan liquids over the skin. Return to oven for 30 minutes. Remove when chicken is golden brown.