‘So what did you do in Israel?’

‘So what did you do in Israel?’

“So what did you do in Israel?”

Good question — not really invasive, and yet if you have the wrong answers you feel like a total failure. What did you do in Israel? Well my cousin’s kid put tefillin on at the Kotel, so that was amazing. After that, we went to Herzliya and to Eilat and we compared those beaches to the beaches of Tel Aviv. It was absolutely incredible. The snorkeling! The tubing!

What did you do in Israel? Well, we have always wanted to go to visit the graves of the various rabbis. Some of which are up north — who knew that there are some really meaningful graves there? Our daughter is still single, so there is one we went to just for her! It was beautiful and mystical and meaningful. What did you do in Israel? We took a food tour of the shuk and then we all did a scavenger hunt. So fun! The kids LOVED it!! And then we all went Segway-ing and grandpa broke his arm, but the hospital was full of history and great snacks for the kids. What did you do in Israel? We went to the bullet factory and the Begin museum and to learn about the windows in Shaarei Tzdek hospital. We were fascinated! And then we went to see a real working kibbutz and wow. Just wow.

And then there is me.

Every person we ran into, so well meaning, so well intentioned. “What did you do in Israel?” “Well, son #3 and I ate. And then we walked to the Old City so he could go to class and then we ate some more and then we walked to the Old City. That is it. That is all we did.” Really? You flew all the way to Israel and that is all you did??? Yup.

Fortunately, when I was younger, my parents took me to all of the sites, we got the tour guide, the car, the whole nine yards. And then, fortunately again, though we never have been able to take a family trip to Israel, all of my boys have gone on summer programs, so they have been able to see all of the sites in Israel. On other trips we have done random things. The Biblical Zoo is a personal favorite. Husband #1 and I went there on our honeymoon, and the animals looked like they were the actual animals created by God on day something-or-other. When I went back years later, I was so happy to see what they have done with the place and now, I think, they might even have an aquarium!

But on this trip, I was just there to see son #3, and, apparently to put back on some of the weight that has taken me so long to lose — but that is okay. I was so grateful that I had gotten there, so it was all good. Constant rain for days? All good! Hail the size of baseballs? All good! The liar from the jewelry store in the Inbal who charged me $160 on the credit card when he told me it was 160 shekel? All good…really and truly.

Son #3 and I ate in nice places, in tried and true places. Any place that I still fit through the entrance way of, we ate in. We saw his friends who I miss so much, we hung out with his new friends from school, I mean yeshiva (apparently, I am not allowed to call it school). We bought gifts and then we ate some more. I made the poor kid walk the whole time I was there, and one day, we even hit over 30 thousands steps! Do you know how much you have to eat to not lose weight when you are walking that much? A lot. But worth every single bite.

So the next time you go to Israel and someone asks you, “What did you do?” You can be honest and list the 40 activities you did to keep your kids occupied so they didn’t drive you crazy, or you can just be honest and say, “We almost went to the Skirball Museum (son #3 and I still have no idea what it is — we passed it at least 50 times and started calling it the “Screwball” museum) but then we decided to go get something to eat.

And whatever you do, it should be in good health and happiness!

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck has a few more “things-that-happened-in-Israel” columns to follow this one and she hopes you like them!

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