Aug 2012 Journal

previous article:DVD (review)
next article:Letters to the Editor

Letter from Israel

Strange new world

It is well over 20 years since our children were teenagers, and it was with some trepidation that my husband and I agreed to leave our comfortable home and spend a week in Zikhron Ya’akov attending to our three grandsons while their parents took a well-deserved break abroad.

Like everywhere else in the civilised world, Israel has undergone many changes in the last two decades, and especially in the sphere of gadgetry. The teenage ethos has also moved with the times, and seems to be preoccupied to an even greater extent than before with extra-mural activities.

So, armed with the various appurtenances that we thought would enable us to cushion ourselves against the loss of our home environment (laptops, books, mobile phones, painting things, exercise equipment, etc), we embarked on the journey to another planet – the world of the teenager that lay just one and a half hour’s drive away.

Our daughter is a very hardworking young woman and had not had time to prepare food in advance, so the first task in hand was to roll up one’s sleeves and get into the kitchen – or order pizza. Naturally, the second option was the one that was preferred, and so it continued for most of the week. Nevertheless, in the course of the next few days I found myself doing more cooking than I had for years. Teenage boys are perpetually hungry, and don’t really seem to care much what they eat provided it’s there when they come home. They don’t actually mind too much who provides it, either.

We soon discovered that our main function while in Zikhron Ya’akov was to ferry the various youngsters to and from school (the youngest boy is only seven and attends a school quite far away from home) as well as to and from their various after-school activities. There is a surfing club at the nearby kibbutz of Ma’agan Michael and the two older ones, aged 16 and 12, are keen surfers. It did not matter that the weather was neither warm nor sunny. They donned their wet suits and off we all went, to seek out the highest wave and the whitest surf. The little one, for his part, would get into his football gear, the royal blue kit of Zikhron Ya’akov’s youth squad, and race around the football pitch as earnestly as any young Wayne Rooney.

Have I mentioned Skatepark? That’s another of Zikhron Ya’akov’s attractions. No matter what the time of day or night, or the state of the weather, the asphalted area that has been set aside for skateboarding, with its hills and ridges for the various acrobatics that youngsters like to perform, is floodlit after dark. Of course, it is situated on the other side of town, so that the enthusiastic young skateboarder had to be taken there, and collected subsequently too.

But all those journeys gave me a chance to enjoy the sight of the Carmel Mountains to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the east. Not to mention the traffic roundabouts, which are a gorgeous sight in spring, with an abundance of cyclamen and other wild flowers. The town is certainly well looked after, with greenery and plantings that would do credit to any town in Western Europe.

When the week came to an end and the boys’ parents returned from their holiday we packed up the things we had brought with us and had barely touched. Once back home, however, we missed not having to look after the youngsters any more. Now we’re looking forward to the next time.

Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

previous article:DVD (review)
next article:Letters to the Editor