Trips to Israel were frequent over my lifetime. Both of my parents, Yonina and Meyer Mathis, had siblings and cousins who made Aliyah from Lithuania in the 1930’s. This small group has grown to about 100-plus in first, second and third generation relatives.
When my sister, Gloria, made Aliyah with her husband Ancil Zeitak and four small children in 1969, these visits became more regular for simchas (happy events) and family connections.
My current trip began as a two week vacation and, like The Man Who Came to Dinner, I had difficulty leaving. I ended up staying for almost two months, living in the Zeitak’s home and experiencing their daily life as Israelis.
The specific purpose of this travel was recovery, rest and regeneration.
After the death of my beloved husband, Al Ascher, I needed this time to reboot.
Living in Gloria and Ancil’s home, I live a life that is more the life of an Israeli than a tourist. This means I go to the market, the bank, the post office, the Canyon mall and visit family across the country as if I lived here full-time.
Every morning I spend an hour walking the streets of Israel. I walk as a form of healthy exercise, and it gives me the opportunity to get a feel for life here.
Seven Years Later
It’s been seven years since my last visit, the longest period since my first trip as a teen in 1958. After my husband and my first trip together to Israel in 2000, we had to take an Israel hiatus due to his inability to make the journey again.
His daughter, Adeena, has lived in Jerusalem almost from the time of her graduation from Oak Park High. We were all so proud of her for receiving a full scholarship, including room and board, to Hebrew University. I’ll share more about Adeena and the beautiful life she and her family have created in Jerusalem in future posts.
Tales From Israel
This blog will be based on the observations I’ve made during my daily walks, as well as the many trips I’ve made traversing the country visiting my extensive family. The intention is to share the interesting changes I’ve noticed since 2000, my last big sojourn in Eretz Yisrael.
It is on purpose that there are no political comments, nor opinions about the religious versus the secular life here.This blog is not meant for that, but rather it is meant to share my experience.
Visit to Rishon I’tzion And The New Agam Museum
Established in 1882, Rishon l’tzion is Israel’s oldest modern town. Its name means First to Zion.
Long known for its wine production, Rishon was a sleepy bedroom community when I was last there about seven years ago, but no more. Now, it is Israel’s fourth-largest city and building is going on everywhere. I can see high-rise offices and apartments with interesting architecture and style throughout the city. It’s easy to see that high tech has made its presence here, as well as in many other areas of the country.
Business is booming. Restaurants are crowded. And the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean, which border the city, are mobbed with sunbathers, paddle ball games, and Israelis and tourists of all shapes and sizes.
One of the must-sees of this exciting Rishon is the delightful Agam Museum, which is so new they were putting the name on the side of the building the day we visited.
Yaacov Agam, now in his 90th year, is still working and going strong in his Rishon studio. An Israeli sculptor and experimental artist best known for his contributions to optical and kinetic art, he is one of the best-known Israeli artists around the world.
The large square cubes of multi-colored fabrics are a fun attraction for all ages. Using these cubes, visitors are invited to push around and create their own “Agam” works of art. Then, visitors can head to a balcony encircling this area that gives a bird’s eye view of the amateur designs. Mine is in the photo below.
The many vibrant towering columns both outside and inside the building were designed by Agam just for this museum.
The museum is filled with Agam’s familiar pieces, as well as videos and new 3-dimensional art. His multi-faceted designs are fascinating to observe from all angles as they form new pictures.
Thirty minutes is ample time to wander in this jewel of a place and well worth the trip. Afterwards, be sure to leave time for a tasty lunch in one of trendy restaurants and do spend some time on the beach.