Ya’arot Ha-Carmel

green mountains and bright cloudy sky in northern israel

Shoshana, Estelle, Val, and I eat the most scrumptious lamb-chops and tomatoes at a spa in the Carmel forest. Estelle’s youngest son has just gotten married. It’s been two years since her Danny died. In the beginning he was called Sabach, in Iraq, one of eleven boys.

At the spa, everyone is given a white robe. Steam rises from the pool. Massage therapists knead into history hidden behind bone. There are photos on the wall in the lobby. In the beginning, this was a sanatorium for survivors of the Shoah. Before the fire tore through the forest. Before the bus and the prisoners went up in smoke.

These days, there are rocket attacks from Gaza. But nothing has come this far north. Sipping herbal tea at sunset, there is a siren. There is a designated shelter in the basement synagogue. A mehitzah. A set of Shas on the shelf. A huddle of white robes. I cup my hands to my belly, to the baby buried inside. All clear, they say through the speakers. Should I order the fish or the lamb tonight?

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