Letters to Tuvia Y3: One Amazing Week (10-21-18) #SOL17

Morning Slicers, I’ve been away for a few weeks with my fingers perched on the keyboard but it seems like too much was happening to catch it… here’s my final effort to capture my life…

Evening T,

I’ve been writing this letter to you for weeks now- beginning before I left for Israel, on the plane before arrival, while I was in the middle of activity, back at the airport before departure, yesterday when I was up at 3am… now after a second day home, still feeling that old familiar jet lag but no one here to push me out the door.  That’s after my early morning workout at the gym.

I’m almost back now.  A crazy trip up to see my dad, meet up with Rick and Earis for Shabbat dinner with dad even if he wasn’t feeling in the mood. It was good to see him even if it was clear he is declining.  He didn’t have the energy to interact with us, but this morning when I called he was back to a familiar normal.  He comes in and out now.  I’m glad to be closer to home now…

Now I’m moving back in time, just before I left Israel…

There’s a bit of time now as I wait for the plane and I’ve been tearing from the time that Ami dropped me off and the departure process home began.  Same on my  arrival here.  Arriving and departing… feeling your absence. Welcome. I’ve been missing you.

Arriving and departing into this scared place you shared with me.  So much of your spirit is here that  I can’t imagine that I will ever stop arriving and departing this country.

So much happened in this week… so many things that you would have loved.  Mihael wearing your talit as he “suffered” through his bar mitzvah experience.  He struggled with your talit.  There’s so much fabric to grow into and so much time for him to learn  to appreciate the history it holds.



It’s a tough week to be away from home with my dad up and down in his last days, months with us.  I held my breath waiting for the call, but it seems as if he’s  giving me the time I need to participate fully in an important Rosenberg family event. Yes, T, my dad’s 96 and  it feels like he’s getting ready to leave us.

I’ve never spent so much time in a synagogue in Israel- but it seems that this Bar Mitzvah held us in its space: Thursday night for Simhat Torah, Friday night for Mihael’s dry run, reciting the kiddush, Saturday morning, the Bar Mitzvah, a brunch for friends and family but sadly no documentation, no  photos, video, my video allowed even in the reception area. BUT on Tefillin Monday- PHOTO OP and  we went crazy, a ending to Mihael’s BM Video!!!!!


An intense weekend, planning and writing

But there was more to worry about- we talked about the brunch and decided to speak even though it’s not done here.  Mihael wrote a thank you to the group. Adi wrote a poem for two voices- A and A… and I wrote something for us- for you to bring you into the experience… You and your father’s talit.  Adi and I and Ami and Mihael sat at their dining room  table working on our pieces… I worked in my bedroom at 3 on my computer- Adi, with pen and paper… I read mine.. she and Ami read their joint poem, Mihael, his… we were ready…

Here’s what I wrote:


You know it’s amazing how beautiful talitot have become… works of art with matching kipot  and here’s Mihael with a tailit that’s old and traditional-and it’s  the talit of his  great grandfather…

There would have been nothing more wonderful  than for Tuvia your saba to see you today wearing this talit that connected him to his father and his history as a Jew. I’m imagining him tearing up seeing you now…

Even though Tuvia wasn’t a religious man he was someone who loved being Jewish and took the traditions of his people and his family to heart.

For 20 years I watched him on every Roshana and Yom Kippur gently remove this talit from its lacy bag and put it on…connecting with his father… making him proud,

A life of ..92 years… after surviving the depression as a small boy, Surviving the holocaust after a 7 month treacherous journey walking home from a work camp in Russia to be reunited with his family  in Rumania, to fight in and survive the Israeli wars for independence, to become a doctor, get married, raise children, see his grandchildren thriving…. being right here for your birth and watching you grow up. In Hoboken and offering me the gift of sharing you and your family with me of course…

He has passed this on to you Mihael… I hope you will cherish it as much as he did when his father passed it to him and when you wear it, think of  the history you will now share and carry…

Nice… but I didn’t read this even though it was right there on my phone.  Instead I free-styled,  I was so struck by the weight of your talit on Mihael… that that image created a new version… and my words became more casual. It was a challenge to begin this piece from the start.  The first draft felt too stiff. Then  I rewrote as a letter to you. Then  I tried again writing  it to Mihael and that’s where it remained until I was in the moment and then I had to make it more about your relationship to it and future it might hold for Mihael.

You’d think that would be more than enough stimulation for a week in Tel Aviv, but NO.  There was so much more: walks to Yafo to spend time at Anne’s new shop- a bit of shopping for me with Adi, meet ups with Maya and family, Rivka, and Edna and… the start of a new challenge- throwing on the pottery wheel- an old fascination coming to life with the help of a great teacher, Mia’s pottery teacher, Lisa.  I can’t wait to see what I can find here to continue building on that initial spark.

As usual,  it was good to be home.  Good to wake up each morning to a house filled with a family, filled with neighborhood sounds.  I was happy.  I came back happy.  Happy feels good, familiar… Of course happy is shadowy given my dad in flux, but Bonnie S. is coming back…

Hey I’ve been moving these photos into the digital world. Remember them?  I was sooo happy. Miss you so much,


Bonnie S.

3 thoughts

  1. That sounds like a perfect speech. I love that Tuva’s grandson has this connection to his ancestors. We all need roots!

  2. The phrase “arrivals and departures” keeps resonating after finishing this slice, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing these moments in your family’s journey. In those last two photos, the arrival of those smiles dazzles.

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