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May 1, 2016

Just home, 24 hours after returning from the States, now alone, talked with Dad. He called his dad Pop, and I think he would have liked me to call him that sometimes. Dad is Harris B. Peck, esteemed and beloved father and elder of the clan. Gone now nearly 18, chai, years. He’s the guy in the sculpture, and on the other side is an Eagle, embracing his elder as he prepares to soar…it’s called….Eagle takes up the spirit of the elder…. A young, poor sculptor in the ’60’s, in Zimbabwe…

I asked what Dad would suggest, given my present moment in life…. And before the words were out of my mouth/mind, he spoke of getting on with the task. His face had a set jaw, a coach’s determination, devoted to his progeny. He knew the end of my question and mid-way through, Jewishly, he already had something to tell me. Tensing my own jaw, I exhorted myself, as I sometimes emptily do, to get to work, to do all the things on my list, to drive forward and to thrust myself back into my work. You get the idea. Soon after that, I was stroking the statue and remembering that, Dad, your way, at your best, was to enjoy the work of moving the world. “You had fun!” I exclaimed aloud. Speaking of fun, if you want to enjoy some inspiration, tune in to the Day of Jazz concert at the White House.

Now I’m up from the garden. The house is so empty. The girls are at a recital, and poor Bonnie, our old Terrier mutt, is in the hospital. Severe liver damage, may be a growth, his white cells suck, and the house is a lonely place. I walk into the living room and he’s there, he’s always there. He is one of our children, a faithful, loving companion. While he looks up to us, we admire him. He’s the kindest spirit among the creatures I know, humans too. We will soon face a moment of medically ethical questions, concerning this lovely guy who lives with us. His blankets lie in the corner unoccupied.

Back home to this, my life. California’s wonderful. Jerusalem’s my home. I just came in from the garden. This place we live, Israel, is both what it is and also…. Israel is a promise. As Dad showed, hard work that is fun will see us through…….. Also totally loving the redwoods, when I can be among them, or sailing a small boat out into the swells off Tel Aviv.  This moment, that can be just one of many moments that did not make a difference. Or…. There is the possibility of understanding the promise that is our wonderful country, and doing what we can to enable Israel’s flourishing. Following is a recent spewing…. I raise a cup to Dad, to Bonnie, and to Israel. Love to all. Yoav



I am critical of many aspects of what is happening in Israel. I worry that people might get the impression that I am an old sourpuss who can’t say anything approving about this country. I chose to move here 43 years ago. I retain my American passport and can leave whenever I want. There is nothing farther from my mind. I am wild about this country. And maybe it’s time to share that with you. So here goes……………….

I love the irritating, irritated drivers. I love the people who finish each other’s thoughts somewhere around mid-sentence. I love the anxious people who can’t wait to push through the doors on the light rail before the others get off. I love the vendors’ humor in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda shuk (open-air market). I love the seasons’ rhythm, the roses that fight their way through the English ivy in front of the house each spring.  I love the physicality of soldiers’ comraderie, apparent wherever two or more of them are together in the bus stations and on the street. I love the people who push and shove, as though we are all siblings. And I love the people who are learning to give way, driving, walking, standing on line. I love how people talk with their hands. There are physical gestures that everyone understands that cannot be put into words. I love the raised voices of arguing motorists and the quiet whispers of teenage ultra-orthodox girls on the bus. I love that public transport security guards struggle to distinguish between Jews of North African descent and Arabs, and that they make mistakes sometimes. I love the quiet of Shabbat, and that, with the religious third of the population forbidden to drive, the streets of Jerusalem are nearly empty of cars and I can whiz to catch a movie downtown in 15 minutes. But I also love the irritated, judgmental faces on the religious folks who walk down the center of small streets and only give way to cars reluctantly. I love that Israelis throw biblical references into their speech. Having forgotten to pay the guy at a fruit stall in the shuk, I returned. As I offered my money and an apology, he remained irritated. “What’s wrong? I made a mistake, and now I’m back to pay you,” I protested. “Moses, our father, also made a mistake,” he grumbled, “and he was not permitted into the promised land.” I love how much I experience belonging here. I love that when you want to tell your kid to ask that stranger what time it is, you use the Hebrew word for “uncle” to identify him. I love that fierce arguments about politics often end with warm, strong handshakes and hugs. Yoav Peck





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One Comment
  1. Refreshing… and a good reminder too – Well written, Yoav

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