Sunday, June 14, 2015

I Like it Here in America

Eight years ago, I received a phone call from my third cousin -our great-grandfathers were brothers - who happened to find me after he had done extensive genealogical research.  Bonus, we happened to be neighbors in the same area in Jerusalem, and when my daughter was born, she had a slew of  built -in cousins. He became a big brother, and his wife was my doula during Raphaela's birth; she was the second person in the world to hold my daughter after the birth.

This past weekend, this family celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of their eldest son, and Raphaela and I happily attended this event.  Raphaela immediately clicked with a cousin who is a bit younger than her, thrilled that she was finally able to play "Elsa and Anna" and be in charge.  In fact, Raphaela spent the whole weekend speaking a beautiful English to relatives from the United States who barely speak Hebrew.

At one point during Shabbat lunch, Raphaela came over to me and whispered in my ear, "I have such a big family!" Then she ran off and I barely saw her the whole day.  Truly a Win-Win situation.

Given that I treasure the life I have built here in Israel, and I believe in the value system here, I would not actually consider moving back to America any time soon.  However, this weekend reminded me how close I am to my first cousins, mostly to the credit of my grandmother who hosted the whole family several times a year on major holidays.  My grandmother also put effort into reminding us to stay in touch and strengthen our connections throughout the cycle of the year.

I am sad for my own daughter, who knows that theoretically there is a big wide world of aunts and uncles and cousins, and that she has only met and spent time with a handful of them.  I am also sad for her that she automatically accepts that many of them may visit us in Israel for a short period of time, and will then return to their life overseas.

At one point during Shabbat, Raphaela told me that she wishes we could live in the United States, if it meant seeing more of our family.


Midlife Singlemum said...

I so get this. My DD is always talking about her cousins in London. We need to make more effort to be with the more distant cousins we have here.

Doc said...

But it has to go both ways, MSM. I sometimes get frustrated because I am putting myself out there, sharing information and trying to connect, and not getting much response from the gang in the U.S. I think I am more aware of the lack of family network, and they don't understand why I am working so hard, because they take it more for granted.