It can happen only in Israel!
- Created: Thursday, 07 March 2013 18:00
- Written by Sheila Rubin Sonnenschein
I am walking and thinking about my next step — passport control. I look up and from another hallway in the Tel Aviv airport, I can’t believe what I am seeing.
“Tobi?” I say, and then I see her husband, Rabbi Daniel Horwitz, former senior rabbi at Congregation Ohev Sholom who now lives in Texas. Tobi Cooper and Rabbi Danny have flown to Israel to visit their youngest who is taking a gap year.
After catching up, retrieving our luggage, and saying goodbye, I head to native Kansas Citian Marla Shalinsky Stein’s home in Jerusalem. Marla and I have been friends since birth. I spend time with her, her husband Gideon, and their three children whenever I’m in Israel. (If you ever need a tour guide, please call Marla! She’s certified with the State of Israel and she’s excellent!)
The next morning, Marla and Gideon give me directions to Yad L’Kashish, or Lifeline for the Old (literally, “hand to old”). I take the new light rail train and disembark close to Jerusalem’s old city.
At Yad L’Kashish, artists teach the older citizens how to make works of art using metal, ceramics, silk and other materials. The items are then sold in the gift shop. These older citizens receive a paycheck, hot meal, and a free bus pass to get to work and around town.
After the inspirational tour, I head to the gift shop. I look up.
“Cantor Barash?” Cantor David Barash used to be the hazzan at Beth Shalom! In the middle of the gift shop, I talk with him and his wife, and realize we have mutual friends whom we will be seeing in Israel.
Next stop: The Roswell Seminar, coordinated by native Kansas Citian Rabbi Steve Burnstein, director of the Saltz Center of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Sixteen of us from seven countries gather for a week to learn about social justice programs in Israel. (I highly recommend this seminar or any of the programs Rabbi Steve leads!)
On one of those days, I meet my New Jersey cousin, Tammy Rubin Abramowitz, for a 90-minute break at Nachalat Binyamin, an outdoor art fair in Tel Aviv. We eat falafel and then admire the hand-made work. I realize I need to get back to the hotel for my next program, but my eye catches one of the last booths.
The artist has made wire figures in action. I have to buy one. Do I buy the girl flying a kite or the woman walking her three dogs? As I’m making a decision, Tammy says, “Sheila, there are some people behind you who want to take a look.” I turn around. I gasp. The other woman gasps. We give each other a big hug. It’s Limor Katz-Evans who used to live in Kansas City and recently moved back to her native Israel!
Limor tells me she lives about an hour from Tel Aviv. She says it’s her first day to get out after resettling the family and setting up her business (her pomegranate shirt is my favorite!).
I’ve previously experienced these small miracles. I know many people have. However, it feels as if it happens more often in Israel than anywhere else.
How is that I see Tobi, Rabbi Danny, and Cantor Barash at the same locations I happen to be without even planning it?
How is it that out of all the booths, of all the places in Israel Limor or I could be, out of all the days Limor decides to take time for herself, we see each other at this last booth on this particular side street, at a time when I only have 10 minutes to get back to my next program?
The artist says she herself played a part in this surprise reunion.
I say, “Baruch Hashem.”
Sheila Rubin Sonnenschein is a freelance writer and mother of four. She volunteers in the Jewish community and in the community-at-large. She is currently writing a book for children and adults about making challah. She bought the girl with the kite.