there are many people i have been thinking about since arriving here nearly 2 weeks ago. most are back in the USA (or in Mongolia!). but there are people whose presence is missed here in tel aviv, as well. people who have always been part of my israel life, it seems. two in particular i want to introduce you to:
first – my savta (grandmother), who came to israel/tel aviv in the 1930s and lived here until she passed away at 2007. savta sonia, as we always called her, was an incredible woman who spoke several languages and lived by herself until the age of 95. she had a sharp tongue (like others in her family…) and quick wit.
i have memories of savta’s apartment going as far back as i remember, and of her standing on her balcony waiting for us to arrive or waving good-bye to see us off. when i was younger, we would all stay with her on our visits to israel. later, her apartment became a place i visited, either with family, or weekly, on my own, when i was a student and soldier here.
it’s been three years since i last spoke with savta and almost two more since the last time i saw her. but she is a part of my life here that’s not – and won’t be – forgotten. i think about her nearly every day.
The other missing link in my life here, so to speak, is a wonderful, very special woman named Ziva. Ziva was my mother’s best friend from age 6 and a central part of our family. Although she never married, she had a huge ‘family’ of friends, in Israel and abroad, and somehow she managed to make each one feel like he or she was the only person who mattered.
It’s hard for me to describe Ziva because she was such a unique and special presence in my life – in all of our lives. A friend of mine here, who met her, told me that he ran into her not too long ago, didn’t remember how he knew her, and based on her aura was sure she was a celebrity. Neil likened her to a shooting star.
Ziva’s apartment was where I stayed last summer every time I came from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, and I saw her nearly every week. Last summer and in previous visits, she was someone to whom I turned for advice, for a laugh, and just for a listening ear.
She passed away this spring, relatively suddenly. It still doesn’t seem real to me – I keep expecting my phone to ring and for her voice to be on the other end, asking about my research or inviting me to dinner. Not a day goes by without me thinking about her, or seeing or hearing something that reminds me of her smile.
Here she is with me, on a visit to the USA for our wedding:
Tel Aviv is not the same without these two women. Every once in a while, though, I can feel their presence here with me. It’s not the same, but it’s comforting.