Sunday, December 14, 2014

Putting Our Best Foot (Hand) Forward for Hanukah

Hanukah is almost here. And that means that it's time for a crazy and creative art project. At the grade school where all of the boys go/have gone, they do a competition each year for the most creative Hanukiot (candle holders for Hanukah). I don't actually know if there are prizes, or if they just invite the kids to create interesting designs. 

So Amichai, all on his own, created a Play Mobile Hanukiah. It's quite cute and we delivered it to school today. It's supposed to show the Maccabees holding up the candles - and notice the elephant as the Shamash (the one that lights all of them).

Eliav had an idea to do something with hand prints, and we tossed and turned the idea around for awhile - and then we got started. We had each person in the family put their hand print on a page and then Eliav put his foot down as well for the Shamash. Here we are being crazy in the house and enjoying the process:

The best one might be the video of Josh getting Eliav's foot ready. Watch even just a few seconds to get the giggles.

Eliav wanted to call it a family Menorah, but we realized that Matan won't be home before he has to turn in the assignment. What to do? Well, it just so happened that Josh was driving down Thursday for the weekly father-son he showed up with the Menorah in progress, paint and a paint brush. And they stood in the Yeshiva parking lot smearing pink paint all over Matan's hand. Yes, Matan thought we were absolutely insane as he laughed and left his mark on the page.

Anything for the love of artistic expression.

And here....drum roll the final creation.

Hanukah Sameach from our family to yours. May it be a magical holiday of light and peace for all of us.

Romi Sussman
Neve Daniel

Sunday, December 07, 2014

In Celebration of a Musical Life

A little over two years ago Neve Daniel lost one of its youth. Eliyashiv was out for a run on an ordinary night when he died, suddenly, at the age of 18. Josh and I were taking a walk that night, when a man we know came running up, out of breath and shaken. He had found someone on the road, and we were drawn in to an incredibly painful and difficult drama. I blogged about it at the time and wrote,

“Then a family name was spoken. I don’t know if there exists a stranger feeling than I experienced. I knew something that I had absolutely no right to know.

His family was eatingarguingdancingpaintingpaying billstalkingonthephonegigglingmenu planningcookingcleaning upreminiscingyellingshowering.

And I was with their son who had just died. They did not yet know that their entire life had already changed. The change had occurred. 

It was over.

I looked out over the yishuv and pictured people in every house in the entire community who were eatingarguingdancingpaintingpaying billstalkingonthephonegigglingmenu planningcookingcleaning upreminiscingyellingshowering, people who didn’t yet know that we had lost one of our own. A part of our body.

And within that noise, within that mass of people going about their business and continuing with their regular lives at 10:14 pm was his family. They were in a space of time where the course of their lives had already altered without their knowledge. I prayed that they should be given the strength to get through this incredible tragedy. 

That they should be able to continue on.

We left, walking home in silence.”


Last night, Eliyashiv’s family put on a concert in his memory. They did so last year, as well, but we weren’t there for some reason. This year, I made sure to mark the date and Josh and I joined hundreds of others in the Matnas in Alon Shvut for a celebration of Eliyahsiv’s life.

This was the flyer created for the event last night.

And what a night it was.

Eliyashiv was a talented musician. He had recently graduated from Kinor David, a religious high school created for musicians. They invited Israeli singer/songwriter/flutist/pianist, Shem Tov Levi, to perform. But he didn’t just perform. He explained the process by which he creates his music and the path that he’s been on as a musician. He was warm, funny, lively and incredibly talented. And the audience ate it up.

And then when he finished, the program continued with performances of six very talented high school groups and solos who wanted to express their creativity through music. This included a student from Makor Chaim, bands with students from Kinor David and more. And the students played and sang and expressed their creativity.

During the night, I was thinking something that Shem Tov Levi then expressed as well. When he was leaving, after applause and thank yous from the family and the audience, he told the family that he was touched by their choice. He said that the evening was a beautiful way to remember their son. Rather than remembering with tears, with sadness and with mourning, they have created this way to remember their son through the music that he so loved. They allowed us to remember their son with laughter, with sing-alongs, and with a celebration of his life.

What a gift.

And what a night.