PARTING SHOT: Taking Stock

The end of summer is always a time for retrospection, with change cropping up all around us. Children are going back to school after their summer breaks and the weather is showing hopeful signs of just sitting back and chilling, instead of baking us.

The High Holy Days are at hand, and with them comes a whole different feel. The hundreds of thousands of Israelis who traveled to all parts of the world over their summer vacations are back, and the roads, which at times seemed delightfully manageable, are once again filling up.

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Conversations are ending with the always-welcome addition of “Shana Tova” and holiday toasts are taking place with such frequency at work places, party headquarters and family gatherings that it might be time to buy stock in Tirosh grape juice.

Israel enters the new year with a half-full/half-empty glass, depending on how you want to look at it. Our problems abound; from security challenges, a paralysis with the Palestinians, corruption among our elected officials, a divided factionalism within our society and a just-too-high cost of living.

Our flaws are out there on our sleeves. But look around – Israelis are still happy. Democracy might be crumbling, as the doomsayers proclaim, but cafes are bursting, outdoor festivals and fairs, national parks, streams and beaches are packed and we are thriving as never before.

In Jerusalem alone, the plethora of cultural events taking place almost every night of the week this summer was astounding – the Jerusalem Film Festival, the Old City Light display week, the Mekudeshet music festival at various venues in the new and old parts of the city, and specialty food trucks in the Hinnom Valley manned by some of Jerusalem’s top restaurants.

We had a pretty lucky summer – we dodged a major conflict in the South, for the time being, and the specter of early elections, also for the time being. Residents of the South, besieged once again by rockets and fire-branded kites, are once again able to walk outside without fear of a siren alert and a mad dash to a shelter.

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That may be great for the country, but for the news cycle, the last few weeks have indeed seen the dog days of summer, with headlines about Krembo, Israel’s national sweet snack, losing its iconic shiny foil wrapping and 10-year-old revelations about Jeremy Corbyn’s latent antisemitism.

The alternatives could be worse. And if nothing else is a written-in-stone fact about life in Israel, those alternatives will be back sooner or later. We should enjoy this respite, recharge ourselves for the year ahead, count our blessings and be thankful that we have been granted the good luck to live in this land in this time.

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