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Marne and Leora Rochester.

When Everything Is New 

Little Leora's first  years and still standing.

1 May 2006, 4 Iyar  5766

A few hours ago the sirens sounded throughout the country for Yom HaZikaron, Israeli Memorial Day. I held my daughter close to me and thought "Please God. Let there be peace by the time my child goes to the army." This is not an original thought, and I've probably said it in previous letters. Almost every parent in Israel has been thinking this since before the establishment of the State of Israel 58 years ago. 

There will be no shopping sales or picnics or parades with bands tomorrow for Memorial Day. The restaurants and movie theatres are closed. There are no comedies on television tonight or tomorrow during the day; there will be stories of our fallen soldiers broadcast until the ceremony marking the end of Yom HaZikaron and the beginning of Yom Ha'Atsma'ut, Independence Day, tomorrow night. Every year there is fresh material. People will be going from cemetery to cemetery visiting the graves of relatives and friends they served with. 22,123 men and women have fallen defending the Land of Israel. 138 soldiers were killed just last year, the last one three months ago. 

But Tuesday night after sunset the comedies will start and the restaurants will open and there will be fireworks in each neighborhood. Wednesday, the parks will be filled and the smell of the mangalim (barbeques) will permeate the air. Kids and adults will wave their flags while watching the parades.

This is Leora's first Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha'atsma'ut. She just turned six months. The Shabbat before this last one, we brought a cake to synagogue to celebrate. Unfortunately for Leora, she's not allowed to eat most of the ingredients, yet. But she did get the recycled version. 

Almost two months ago, she had her first Purim. She went as Tigger. Her Uncle Andy bought the costume before she was even born. I was relieved to find out it still fit. 

Last month was her first Pesach. She did her rendition of "The Four Questions," titled "The Four Kvetches." It was a bit late for her.

Leora also experienced her first elections in March. She wore green to symbolize the Green Party (the environmental party not the Green Leaf Party for legalizing marijuana). I didn't expect them to get in, but I couldn't vote for the major parties. I wanted to feel like I was voting for something instead of the least corrupt or least bad. But I was happy to see the Pensioners Party made it in. Their issues will some day be our issues. They were given offices near the Knesset floor so they wouldn't have far to go for votes.

Wednesday, we're going to Beer Sheva to celebrate Yom Ha'atsma'ut with friends from Maryland and other people who have joined our group over the years. They promised one grill will be left for vegetarian food only. Leora and I are going to take the train down there. It will be her first train ride. Everything is now measured in "Leora's first?" 

Before Pesach, I did something a bit traumatic for me but for a good cause. My hair is now the shortest it's been since I was four. I cut it all off and donated it to Zichron Menachem. One of their many projects to help kids with cancer is to make wigs for them from donated hair, similar to "Locks of Love" in the States. I'll be saving a lot in shampoo and conditioner now and my showers are a lot shorter. I got the Jerusalem Post to write an article about it. There's a mistake in the caption; I think you can tell that's not my hair on that girl. 

Parenthood has been a very humbling experience. I knew it would be hard, but I could never have imagined just how hard. There are moments when I want to run away from home to a place where I can get some sleep or not have someone insisting on being held all the time and giving me a hard time if I want to go to the bathroom. But I look at Leora and I know this is the most right thing I've ever done. I couldn't imagine a world without her in it.

Hag Sameah!

Marne Rochester.