A Day in Ashkelon

Written by on December 30, 2013 in ,


A Day in Ashkelon
It’s 4:50am and my alarm clock will ring in five minutes. I hear the rain outside, which is a rarity for us in Ashkelon, being most days of the year are sunny with clear blue skies. A couple years ago, before I made Aliyah, if you asked me to wake up before the break of dawn, especially on a rainy morning, I would have said ‘You have the wrong person’. Since making Aliyah, that all has changed. Don’t get me wrong; I still love to sleep. But there is a unique quality in the breathing air in Ashkelon that propels me each to day to wake up earlier than I used to go to bed. Perhaps it’s an attack of Carpe Diem! But I think it is more likely that I have finally found myself a routine that I am grateful to repeat. Shacharit is at 5:30am, so if I get there by 5:15am it gives me a few moments to prepare myself for the onslaught of an unrelenting 16-hour day.
IMG_2118At 6:30am I stop back at home to pick up my workbag, my lunch and usually my wife, with whom I am fortunate to work. By 6:45am on most days we are in the office. We work for a metal fabrication & contracting company that is located in the southern industrial park of Ashkelon, a lengthy 8 minutes from our home. It is an especially rewarding work knowing I am a small cog in the mechanism responsible for building Israel and guiding it into the future. Most days of the week, my wife and myself are traveling around to different project sites that are sprinkled all over the map of Israel; probably my favorite part of the job. How many people get to spend their workday exploring such a beautiful country; a country that naturally radiates with a sense of ownership and pride for all Jews.IMG_2118
On the typical day, we work until five or six, head home, eat a quick dinner before I head out to one of three different Chavruta (Talmud learning partner), that I have with new and old friends around the city. On most evenings, I am home by 9:30pm relaxing with my wife and decompressing from the excitement of the day.
But today is not a typical day. Today, we did not make it into the office. In fact, today I did not even manage to be awoken by my 4:55am alarm. Today, my wife awoke me with a gentle nudge. “I think it’s time,” she said in a gentle-waking tone. It took me a few short seconds to reacquaint myself with my surroundings before the gravity set in. As if a spring was released under my pillow, I leapt out of bed. I started to dress, not discerning the fact I was putting on my shirt backwards. My wife, with out any hint of stress, helped me to properly adorn my shirt. In a serendipitous reversal of roles, she took a moment to look at me and remind me to breath. We headed to the hospital. “Delivery room” I told the guard. My wife and I, Baruch Hashem, were in the final phase of our first pregnancy. Nine months of burgeoning excitement and it all leads up to this one intense moment.
Well, at least we thought it would be that moment, but it wasn’t destined to happen, at least not yet. The doctors, advised us not to leave the hospital as a precaution to the decreased amount of amniotic fluids they noticed while running a series of tests. They didn’t seem worried, so neither were we. We crossed paths with hundreds of people while at the hospital; medial staff, hospital administrators, and other expecting mothers (and nervous fathers) who were under observation. All different kinds of people, with varying backgrounds, some Sabra’s thru and thru, some having made Aliyah recently, some not so recently, all of whom share the central fact that they ended up in this one little corner of the world. Nearly every person we met, was more spectacular than the last, going out of their way to help, above and over the call of duty. The ease of conversation with other couples was so natural it was as if we had been dear friends for countless years. I am convinced we made several life long friendships in that short time frame.
Roughly 30 hours after we first came to the hospital the contractions escalated, and my wife’s calm shifted to a hint of restlessness. They moved us into our delivery room. It was the start of a long and dramatic labor that was far more intense than either of us could of anticipated. But with great gratitude to Hashem, after 12 hours of labor my daughter, Shira Dvora Malka, was welcomed to this world. She was 3.56 kg with an overall length of 53 cm. Only a few short moments old, I held her for the first time. It was a thrill that I will never succeed to justify with words.
My wife’s recovery lasted a handful of days, but to me the whole experience could have been easily mistaken for a brief couple of super-intense hours. It took only a few moments for us to organize our things once we received both mother’s and child’s release from the hospital. It was as if life was about to return to its norm. Normal in every way… perhaps aside for the precious five day old cargo I overcautiously secured, and covered with several (4 to be exact) layers of blankets into the car seat carrier I held in my hand. It felt like I was carrying the most precious jewel in the world and only I would be able to protect this jewel from the perils of the world once I stepped foot outside of the protective umbrella of the hospital. Umbrella was exactly right. The same ominous rain clouds that were present when we entered the hospital hovered overhead, releasing indiscriminate showers of rain. While rain is always a blessing in Israel, I had prayed for a different reception for my wife and our daughters first time coming home. Never the less, I brought the car around, we buckled up and prepared ourselves for our short drive home.
As if on cue from above, as we started driving away from the hospital, a little beam of sun broke through the congestion of clouds above. As a sharp knife cutting through its food, the beam of sun grew until it filled the sky revealing the blue sky I have grown so accustom to since making Aliyah in June of this past year. It reminded me how lucky I am, how lucky my daughter is, how lucky we all are. Lucky to have a home in which working hard has a sense of contribution! Lucky to have a home so beautiful it is second to none! Lucky to have a home for my children to be born in. Lucky to have a home to raise a family in. Lucky to be able to call Israel Home!

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