Twenty-six years have passed since She hurt my feelings. Twenty-six years for me to come to the understanding that She hadn’t mean to be mean. To know that if She’d had an inkling of how badly She’d made me feel She’d be horrified, ashamed, and quick to apologize.
It happened at a mothers’ meeting for our daughters’ sixth grade class. In Israel it’s common for the near twelve-year-olds to have a class Bat Mitzvah. Usually this consists of a gala evening with a program by the girls, a meal, and presentations of thanks. As we discussed what present to give the girls one mother voiced a complaint. Due to lack of space- the evening would be celebrated in the old study hall of the yeshiva- every girl was allowed to invite only four guests. Her daughter had six to invite, her parents and both sets of grandparents.
That was when She spoke up: Take two of Silvers’ guests. They don’t have any grandparents coming anyway.
I think I kept my feelings in check. With dignity I explained my daughter had already invited two friends from Jerusalem to be her guests along with her father and me.
The subject was dropped. Most likely everyone forgot all about it besides me. The night of the program came and my daughter’s two friends arrived by bus. They were excited, dressed in party clothes, and both had a present for my daughter. It was with positive feelings we made our way to the old study hall. I entered the building with a smile, looked around, and then backed out. It seemed as if every girl had at least one grandparent by her side. My heart ached for my daughter making the best of things with her two friends. My heart also ached for me and my husband, raising our children without the support of any extended family nearby.
Finding a spot to hide myself I shed some tears of self-pity, then pulled myself together and reentered the hall with a smile. Through the years there were many other occasions when I felt the absence of relatives but as time went on I adjusted better. Besides, my husband kept reminding me that we were building a new family in Israel. He was right.
Recently my oldest granddaughter had her class Bat Mitzvah. It was a women-only affair and I was proud to be there sitting with my daughter-in-law and her mother. The circle of time had turned in the past twenty-six years and now, just as my husband had foretold, I have a large extended family living in Israel.
Sometime during the past twenty-six years I’ve forgotten who She was. I do know that She was a sabra, a native-born Israeli, who didn’t have a clue how it felt to be an immigrant. It’s too bad She didn’t have more of an imagination but I forgave her for her insensitive words years ago. Now, I pray that my sabra grandchildren, who are privileged to have a slew of relatives living somewhat nearby, will never take their blessing for granted. I also pray that they’ll be understanding to all the Jews who decide it’s now time to come home to Israel. I pray they’ll all come home soon.