another generation

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Passover is coming to a close. This evening we will celebrate the last day of the holiday which will continue through tomorrow. Then on Saturday we will continue eating matzot instead of bread, and maintaining the passover diet, because the sabbath will have arrived without giving us the time to change our pots and pans and dishes back to normal.

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The holiday was a continuous social event with many meetings of dear friends and relatives. I’ve grown used to a lot of solitary time, and found the emotional pitch, the many conversations… even meeting with so many very different individuals, somewhat enervating.

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What an intense experience it was to be in a room filled with my youngest grandchildren, each of them different, a world onto himself or herself, part of the family… and at the same time, part of a generation that I can barely understand. Looking at them and listening to them I became very aware of the new world and the new souls already on their way to replace almost all I’ve known in my lifetime.

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These young souls had great sensitivity, and much sensibility, though occasionally I would hear a blood curdling scream or a growl of discontent. So different from one another, and yet managing quite well to co-exist in peace. So many words. More than stars in the skies. I listened for a while, but just couldn’t keep up. I saw some youngsters putting together a building from plastic semi transparent and brightly colored plastic. Is this something like Lego, I asked. No, they explained. This is magnetic.

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Spent time with people of all ages, from the very young who had just recently learned to speak their minds to old folks like myself, and most of them were completely unconcerned with the things that usually occupy my mind. But that didn’t bother them or me. There were a lot of rickety old bridges between us, and we had no fear. We sat around long tables and short. Round tables too. And the variety of food was amazing.

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My biggest problem was the immense contrast between the light coming through the windows, and that within the rooms when visiting with some of my grandchildren. I would have had to photograph with flash in order to get some sort of balance in many of the pictures or arrange people in better relationship to the light. But I like to catch them as they are.

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I was reminded of the many stations of life I’d gone through, the decisions; turning a house into a home; finding a balance in life; bringing children into this world with my wife; learning the characters of those children, and building bridges. I’ve been reading a book by Wendell Berry called ‘Hannah Coulter’. Here’s a short passage from that novel: “Nathan and I had to get used to each other. We had to get used to being two parents to Little Margaret. We had to get our ways and habits into some sort of alignment, making some changes in ourselves that were not always easy. We had to get used to our house. We had to get used to our place. It takes years, maybe it takes longer than a lifetime, to know a place, especially if you are getting to know it as a place to live and work, and you are getting to know it by living and working in it. But we had to begin”.

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58 responses to “another generation

  1. Nothing like family.

  2. These are all lovely photos, Shimon. Authentic. And thank you for this glimpse into your family’s lives. A privilege.

    • Thank you Tish. To me, the most amazing thing about family, is how different each member is. I would like to know each and every one of them well. But I doubt if I ever will. We live in a very complex world.

  3. What a deep immersion in family/life! Glorious photos, Shimon; thank you.

    I love all of Wendell Berry’s writings. They always bring me to a place of deep peace and reminders of ways to go and be in the world.

    A blessed ending to your Passover.

    • I’m glad to read that you enjoy Wendell Berry’s work, Kitty. I have just discovered him lately, and I am very moved by his writing. I feel that he writes about life itself. His people are real, and seeing them through his eyes allows a lot of respect. After reading each of 3 novels, so far, I’ve walked around for weeks with the book in my head, and thought of the nature of the human being, and what makes a good life. Thanks so much for your blessing.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. Loved the photographs and also love being with lots of young children. I am so pleased that you have enjoyed Passover and time spent with all your family. My mouth is watering just seeing the pictures 🙂 xx

    • I never was that much of a party person, Janet. I prefer to communicate with people one on one. And so, it broadens my horizons to take part in a family celebration. It’s really amazing to me that there is a little bit of me in each of these folks. I envy you that you enjoy being with lots of children. I’m usually a bit scared around them. xxx

  5. Thanks for the pictures, the quote, and the reflection. They show perfectly what families are about. Thanks for sharing.

    • Glad you were able to join me for a moment, Olga. We get to meet, and sometimes make friends with people on the internet, sharing with them a few dimensions of our lives. But there is always much that isn’t exposed. Sometimes I try to touch on those things that aren’t easy to describe. I’ve read descriptions of wine that filled me with interest. Yet right now, as I write to you, I’m drinking some celery juice and don’t have the words to describe the experience.

  6. Yes, I am with Tish…a privilege to see your family. Thank you Shimon. I live alone and find myself making a conscious adjustment when I am in a group setting. Hugs for you. xXx

    • Dear Jane, I’m so glad you enjoyed this little visit. Living alone can offer great freedom, and part of that freedom is choosing when to interact with others. No matter how much we enjoy outside stimulation, there is almost always comfort and joy in our return to ‘home’. I have to make that adjustment just as you do. Thanks so much for your comment. xxx

  7. מבורך–I hope I have this right! You are surrounded by blessings, in celebrating Pesach together (without having to say the words ‘next year in Jerusalem’ !), דַּיֵּנוּ‬….having family on top of family to do it with דַּיֵּנוּ‬, and all the special food(s) to go with it דַּיֵּנוּ‬–all that is missing from your Pesach is Elijah! (smile). Wonderful photographs! So…..who found the afikomen, and where did you hide it?!

    • Dear Lance, you have me smiling wide here, as I receive your blessing, and enjoy your knowledge of our customs and language. And actually, I had the sense that Elijah was with us as we renewed our memories and celebrated the exodus. You know, the afikomen is part of the fun and games we have with the children to keep them awake till the end of the ceremony. That’s all it is, a conspiracy to keep them awake. But afterwards, they are always proud that they managed to take part… even in the middle of the night. Ah, simple joys. Thanks.
      שתזכה למצוות

  8. What a wonderful peek into what truly matters. 🙂

  9. Such lovely and precious pics, friend Shimon … thank you so much for sharing … I love you forever … Always, cat. My family is still travelling … Son Paul and daughter in law started their journey in Alberta, Canada Sept 02 … then across the continent all the way to the East coast … then down to Florida, where we met them in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for X Mas … then all across the States to the West coast, meeting daughter Mary and son in law in Vegas for Easter long week end … and now travelling North East … they just arrived in Northern Arizona, USA … @paulleanneandavan …is their Instagram address … all they have is a lil van called Morrie and a motor bike … and of course 14 year old cat Benny is travelling with them every step of the way …
    smiles … Hoping to see them again mid May in Victoria, BC, Canada … and then home in Alberta again come fall … Love, cat.

    • Thank you so much, cat, for including the instagram address for Paul and Leanne. Believe me it wasn’t easy for me to take a step into the unknown, and this was my first time into the world of Instagram, and I’m amazed that I was able to find my way back to the comments of this post. But I’ve seen enough to know I’m going to visit there some more. What wonderful pictures, and what a pleasure to visit with your family. I think I already saw Benny’s paw, and I imagine that if I keep looking at those pictures, I’m going to see a lot more. How wonderful. xxx

  10. Your candid photos are interesting and make a lovely interactive collection.

    Your words as always are so apt and thought provoking. There is much that resonates.

    Maztot are nice, at least I think so. I often choose to eat one in preference to bread. For one thing, they hold marmalade very securely in place! 🙂

    • I used to love matzot. Now I’m not such a big eater anymore… and probably eat more matzah-brei than matzot the way they come out of the package. I recently learned that square matzot have only been around for about 200 years. That’s when someone invented a machine to make them. Thank you for your kind words, menhir. When I get together with people, I like to learn something from them. Aside from that, I usually do a lot of thinking myself. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot of the changing roles of men and women… about how far we’re getting away from our animal nature… about how long we might last. There’s a lot to think about. Best wishes.

  11. I recently had the privilege of meeting my youngest granddaughter. I left home a bit empty, but came home full to the brim. Content to relive the special moments over and over again, to my heart’s content. Thank you for allowing us a little insight into your world.. So very lovely!

    • I can understand your feeling that it is a privilege, Roberta. It’s a great joy to see a part of yourself heading for the future. Some of my grandchildren are already adults, and I enjoy getting together with them, and spending a day or evening without a special reason or celebration. Despite the many differences both in concerns and point of view, we find many things in common. It is a very rewarding experience.

  12. The dissonance felt by the extremes of age, and yet the undeniable connection of generations. Family delights and astonishes – and reminds us of that which truly binds us to each other. Shalom

    • Shalom Mimi. It is good to hear from you, and I appreciate your understanding of my bewilderment at times, in the company of my grandchildren. You said it so well, ‘the dissonance felt by the extremes of age’. But even so, it is possible to build bridges, and that provides the delights. Thank you very much for your comment, and best wishes to you.

  13. Precious moments, Blessing and Happiness to you all, dear Shimon. Thank you, Love, nia

  14. A toast to the new generation learning a tradition … and may they continue the tradition with their families in the future.

    • I tell you Frank, there was a time when I could really imagine what I could hope for in the future. But the world seems to be changing so quickly these days, that I try to enjoy what is… the present. It could be that the way we pass our traditions on gives them longevity. But time seems to be speeding up, and people seem to go from one thing to the next very quickly. I had a typewriter that I used and worked on for about 40 years, and it was good as long as I used it. Now when I buy a computer, I just hope for it to last 3 years. Anything more than that seems like a gift from heaven. Thanks for your comment, and I’m happy to toast to anything with you.

  15. The time spent with family and friends last Friday for the beginning of Passover sounds somewhat like what you describe here with all the family and little ones creating a cacophony of sound, when I too am used to quiet solitude. But beautiful nonetheless to see the little ones moving up the ladder. And to be together.
    Take care, Shimon.

    • It’s a happy thought for me, Angeline, that we shared similar experiences that Friday night, though on different points of the globe. This special holiday emphasizes the obligation we have to tell our children… and I believe that includes more than just our exodus from slavery. It seems to me a great opportunity to share with the younger generation our view of life as a whole. Thanks. My best wishes to you.

  16. Such good beginnings. Look at the treasures you have now.

  17. Beautiful photos of your family. A wonderful gathering… Thank you so much for sharing the warm and happy moments with us, Mr. Shimon.

    • It is a pleasure to share such things with my friends, Amy. I often think about the way we see ourselves, and how others see us… Even when talking to a friend, we see many different faces of that friend. There have been some clever books written and stories told about seeing a narrative from the views of different people… but it is another one of those issues in which there is more unknown than known. Thanks

  18. The first photo raised immediate memories of childhood holidays, when the adults would gather around the “big table” and my cousins and I would be seated at round, child-sized tables of our own. We were within sight and earshot of the adults, so we could eavesdrop on their conversation to our hearts’ content, and they could keep an eye on any “funny business” going on among us. It’s a wonderful blessing for generations to gather, and you are richly blessed.

    I shared a bit of your world last night. I baked salmon for supper, and dressed it up with some za’atar I’d received as a gift. It came to this country through the company known as Canaan Fair Trade, and I smiled to read the ingredients: roasted sesame, sumac, oregano, olive oil, and Dead Sea salt.
    It was the sumac which caught my attention first, but the Dead Sea salt brought you to mind.

    • We have common pleasures, Linda. I like baked salmon too, and love za’atar. Can’t say the same for sumac, and it’s quite popular here. The Canaan Fair Trade company was founded in 2004 by Nasser Abufarha, a Palestinian-American businessman. In his book, The Making of a Human Bomb, published in 2009, he writes “Killing celebrated by individuals, groups, and communities does not represent a psychological pathology, but rather a cultural expression.” He portrays the indiscriminate killing of Israeli civilians as justified behavior. He explains as an anthropologist that `Palestinian groups developed Palestinian martyrdom operations [suicide attacks] as a means of resisting state expansion and asserting Palestinian identity and rootedness.'”

      I could tell you more about the history of that factory, which goes back to the 30s of the last century, but maybe I’ll write a blog post on that, because it’s an interesting story. But calling that company the ‘Canaan Fair Trade’ reminds me of ‘the Matterhorn Bobsleds’ which are a pair of intertwined steel roller coasters at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It’s height is 45 meters. It is modeled after the Matterhorn, a mountain in the Alps on the border of Switzerland with Italy. The real Matterhorn has an elevation of 4,478 meters. In the case of Canaan Fair Trade Co., it is more like a pimple masquerading as a mountain. Thanks for your comment, and best wishes and good appetite.

      • I wondered about the company. The person who gave me the spice as a gift has particular political leanings, and I thought I’d simply post the company’s name, and let it be. Your response is quite interesting, and if you were inclined, a post would no doubt be interesting as well.

  19. Beautiful words and photos. Thanks for letting us peek into your mind and family.

    • It is my pleasure Kari. And let me tell you that there were a lot of hard days when I was your age. And sometimes I really didn’t know what to do… and you can be sure I made my share of mistakes. But it got easier with experience, and as the children got older. And I gratefully accept the whole process now that I’ve grown old. Sending you my best wishes.

      • I read these words on a very hard day, Shimon and I can’t tell you how timely and encouraging they were to me. Thank you for taking the time to encourage others!

  20. This post reminded me how quickly time goes by, I too already feel like I have lived several lives. I did enjoy seeing your family, the photos are beautiful, so natural, just as they are. How good to hear there was only the occasional scream or growl, I always feel being around children is a little like being around dogs, they behave well for most of the time. I am amazed at children’s toys these days, keeping up can be a little difficult. I was trying to explain to daughter how we used to make stilts out of old cans, she couldn’t get her head around it, children don’t seem to make their own toys any more.
    Good to hear you enjoyed the holiday, I bet having peace and quiet again is wonderful.xxx

    • When you mention stilts out of old cans, Dina, I was reminded that our ‘smart phones’ were two tin cans tied together by a string held tight by tensions. We thought it was a great invention though we could have just raised our voices and been heard. Yes, time seems to go by faster and faster, and it seems that we do have incarnations in this life… and I would argue that heaven and hell is also a part of this life. It’s crossed my mind that all we learn about the super natural is just parts of life; the whole package. And haven’t you just come back from a vacation that was much like a whole life in a little package? How wonderful it is to have such experiences. Still peace and quiet is so sweet after another bit of ‘experience’. xxx

      • I have never doubted, from the moment I could think, that this planet is both heaven and hell, and both heaven and hell here are so utterly extreme, it drives you mad, literally to dwell on it, cruelty and compassion and a shed- load of stuff in between. I can never understood how the grounded, practical people on this earth never dwell on the strangeness of our existence, how we all live on a planet, in a galaxy, maybe possible parallel worlds, and all the while, spinning away.
        It astonishes me how people go about their daily chores while accepting the utterly, uncanny environment they inhabit.
        Yes, being away was a whole new life and experience, and I enjoyed it all, but even more so when I got home, and had a chance to reflect, and digest it all….peace and quiet is such a blissful thing……not that it’s that quiet here, just a quiet I’m accustomed too! xxxx

  21. Hope you have enjoyed your Passover holiday. My 13 grandchildren and now my 4 great-grandchildren have given me a different perspective to life, and helped me realise the real change society has endured; and with our positive election results will enable some change for the better.

    • Hi Peter, It is so good to hear of your children and grand children, and great-grandchildren. It does give us a different perspective, and in my case at least, it helps me accept the changing world, even if I’m unable to take part in many of the new exercises. It is good too, to hear that you are pleased with the new political developments in your country. We’re getting overdoses of politics here, and I’ve been listening less to the news because it is so discouraging. I wish you many happy days with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

  22. These family traditions are so important in keeping the family connected over the years. Even in a changing world, it’s always good to have our foundation to rely on. Thanks for sharing your Passover story.

  23. My favorite times are those when all the generations of my family are in the same physical space. We can all learn from each other, even if we aren’t aware of it at the time.

    • Yes, I agree with you, Corina… it’s a learning experience, which is something I always enjoy. I don’t mix that much with younger people, and this gives me an opportunity to discover new interests and opinions in this world. Thanks.

  24. alignment – that’s the key.
    Love the piles of the Littles’ activities. It must have been a joyous jumble of noise and energy.
    Children are such a garden to tend. We must do our best to give them time, space, and safety to grow into themselves.
    (enjoyed your response to Shoreacres)

    • I’m not that good with little children… never have been, but I keep trying, and keep learning too, so there’s a reward. Glad you enjoyed that earlier comment. I am often amazed to see how certain situations are twisted out of shape. I suppose it’s all part of encountering alternative worlds.

  25. Oy Shimon… so much to catch up on! Thank you for sharing this peek into your family life during the chagim; and for bringing me back into.. the fold. Chag sameach!

    • and thank you, Amit for coming by… we wander through this life, inspired and wondering all the way through… good to see you again.

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