A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Life on the Mediterranean


My friend Martha and I worked together in the 80s at a video editing facility. She was my only married friend back then, with a real house and even a dog.

She stood by me as my Maid of Honor (guess that’d really be “Matron,” though the word has bad connotations) when Craig and I married.

wedding pix

Years later, we both found ourselves with baby daughters in our arms.  Imagine my dismay when my friend and her husband and the baby that matched mine moved to Israel.

I just couldn’t understand how she could choose a such dangerous country in which raise her daughter.

I had all the images in my mind from the news: teen boys, faces partially obscured by scarves, throwing rocks at cars; rockets shot into the desert; barbed wire; mourners following caskets; bombed buses and blown up cafes.

And the political situation, age old.  I pictured Arafat.  I pictured Rabin.  Broken treaties, broken hearts, dusty and sad.

How could she voluntarily move to a place of such endless and historic conflict?

Well, move she did and, later, after a five-year residency in America with her now-three child family, they decided to move back to Israel yet again.  I still didn’t see why, especially after a taste of the safety, comforts, and family-friendliness of the Washington D.C. area.  (I know there is some irony here).

She tried to explain that Israel’s existence felt both miraculous and fragile to them.  They feel compelled to live there and be a part of what makes it hum; to be a part of this special moment in history.

I said goodbye again, quite certain that although I promised to visit, I probably never would.  Just too dangerous.

When we realized that our around the world travels would come to pass, we boldly decided that we would include a terrifying visit to Israel.


We really wanted to visit Mike and Martha and our children had grown very attached to theirs during their time in America.  We would just grit our teeth, keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

And here’s what I discovered: When you turn off the CNN scare-reel and look at the actual place (much as people must do who are afraid to visit Washington D.C.), you will see the following highly recognizable things: street fairs, families, musicians, restaurants, beaches, museums, pizza, Coke, trendy shops, Roman ruins, mountains, grocery stores, life.

I saw no one walking around looking scared.  People are living their lives in their young, brave country; laughing and loving and celebrating in spite of the Middle East situation.

No place is perfectly safe.  I am 10 miles from where a terrorist-driven commercial jet crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11.  I shared the shock and grief of our losses in NYC on the same day.

In 2002, the Maryland suburbs were gripped with fear as a sniper serial killer went on a two-month long rampage.

In November of this year, a classmate of Caroline’s was shot dead by gang members on a community bus.  Who was I to say that where I lived was “safe,” and where Martha chose to live wasn’t?

At Martha’s house we relaxed and grilled fish.  We sat on the balcony and drank wine watching the sun set over the Mediterranean.  We hiked at the nearby beach.



We visited Jerusalem: The Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the tomb of Jesus—all within steps of each other.  For one afternoon we were part of the teeming coexistence of devout Jews, Muslims, and Christians.  Agreeing, for the moment perhaps, to disagree.

I would not hesitate to go back to Israel or to encourage any of my friends to go.  There is beauty and history there.  Pain and elation.  A country full of people who choose with conviction to be there.


Our pictures from Zikrhon Ya’acov are posted here.


1 Helene { 06.05.09 at 2:27 pm }

Wow! I can’t believe that’s YOU Dani – I just can’t see the Dani in the blog shot even though they’re practically next to each other for comparison!

2 Doug Spiro { 06.06.09 at 7:42 am }

Well said Dani!

3 Martha { 06.06.09 at 8:29 am }

I am so glad you, and your amazing family, had a chance to see Israel up close and not through the filter of TV. We loved every moment of your visit.

Often I am angry at the extremism here, and pessimistic about the chances of peace. On the other hand, this intensity makes me feel that every moment is precious and forces me to hope that voices of calm and reason will prevail. I think visitors (like you!) who open themselves up to what Israel is, and isn’t, are a big part of the peace process.

Thank you so much for coming!

4 Monica { 06.07.09 at 8:53 am }

Hi Dani! Hi Martha! Sounds like you had a sweet time together… yes, I am jealous. What a view you have there, wow.

5 ST { 06.08.09 at 10:33 am }

Loved this report, Dani, and the photos (especially your wedding pic in this context.) Thank you, st

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