Monday, February 16, 2009

Visiting Israel: My Father’s Family

Thursday went by telling no interesting story. Then came Friday, when my father and I went to visit my Father’s family in the nearby city of Bnei-Brak.

Bnei-Brak, in the heart of the Greater Tel-Aviv Area, is the second most important concentration of strict Jewish people in Israel, after Jerusalem. The vast majority of Bnei-Brak’s population are strict Jewish, and religion has a lot – well, more than a lot; everything – in the city’s political landscape. The city has certain bylaws to make the religious population’s life easier; for example, coming Sabbath, there are only a few areas that you can drive in; virtually no store is open, and there are billions of synagogues everywhere.

Hardly a tourist attraction, the typical visitor to Israel has virtually nothing to look for in there.

My father’s family is not strict Jewish; they live right at the border between Ramat-Gan and Bnei-Brak.

As soon as we arrived, I met with my uncle Moshe (“Moshe” is the original, Hebrew name for the biblical name “Moses”) who was just leaving. A few words and up we went, to meet grandma and two of my father’s sisters whom I haven’t seen in quite a while.

After about 30 minutes, my uncle Dani (who resembles, to some freakish degree, a guy I work with, in Canada) arrived along with his 17 years old son, Aviv. I have seen the latter exactly twice in my life: the first time when he was two months old, and the second time that same Friday.

It is an extremely bizarre experience to approach and form a conversation with a cousin of yours that you haven’t seen during almost %100 of his life. He had an idea that I deal with software development so, to my absolute amazement, he struck a conversation about it.

I say “absolute amazement” and it still doesn’t capture the full scope of my astonishment. The reason was, that out of my entire wide family, nobody turned out to do anything with his life that is even remotely connected to computers, and here I’m discovering a close relative who does. Up until Friday, the very thought that I will have any software-related conversation with a family member was ridiculous.

It didn’t take me too long to realize that this young fellow is not just talking computers – he’s brilliant. He deals less with software development and more in data and systems security; I was very impressed with him.

Very bizarre, at age 31, being introduced to a family member who you knew existed but never really met.

A quick early dinner at grandma’s house and we left. I was very tired, and had to catch some sleep before the evening… for Itay’s house-warming party (next post).



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