So, you're anxiously wondering, what did aliyahbyaccident do for fun on Yom Haatzmaut????
Well, we started the celebration the night before, by watching the awesome Modiin fireworks display from the comfort of our mirpeset. Dimri is good for exactly two things - watching fireworks on Yom Haatzmaut and....um....watching the second round of fireworks on Yom Haatzmaut.
Tuesday morning we packed our "mangal" (BBQ) supplies and prepared for a truly Israeli YH experience - mangal in the park. We had my Aunt Gitte with us, who was visiting Israel for a month, and she was game to join us on our adventure. We also picked up some friends on the way - to protect their privacy I will call them "Shmilversteins." The plan was to go to the Music Park, play, and eat grilled foods
Some things to know about the Music Park: It is officially part of Yaar Ben Shemen, but there's no sign leading to it, you just have to be in the know. Luckily, since Donny loves turning off at random points off the highway, we discovered this little park BY ACCIDENT last year. We would go occasionally on Fridays, because it's nearby, it's shady, and it's always empty.
Now, we are seasoned olim, so we know that even the most random, out-of-the-way patch of grass, dirt, or median becomes fair mangal location on chol hamoed and YH. So we figured we'd get there earlier in the day, like 10:30ish, in order to grab a table. In fact, the streets were pretty empty, so we thought we had a good chance.
HA! As we drove into the park-no-one-knows-about-,-surely, we could barely maneuver our little Mazda 3. It was PACKED! Every table was claimed, and families had even cordoned off their own private dining areas. And it wasn't like people were just pulling up and setting things out. These were families who had been there for hours. They were definitely in the midst of kebab number four. These were SERIOUS Israelis, who probably got here at 6 in the morning - nay, slept on the tables all night - in order to stake out their area.
We were not to be deterred. Also, we were already here. What were we going to do, leave and go somewhere else? So we kept driving through the park. And driving. We were thankful that the Shmilversteins are laid-back people and didn't seem to mind as we took them further and further away from civilization and dustied up their car.
As predicted, any place with grass and a tiny bit of shade (it continued to be about 4 jamillion degrees) was taken. We continued to lead the Shmiversteins into the bowels of Ben Shemen forest. Finally, we stopped. We saw a spot. There was shade. There was a free table. Now, the shade and the table were in two separate locations, but still. And there was even a teeny-tiny playground, on which one family considerately decided to barbeque, so that the smoke wafted into the children's faces.
So we set up camp. And wouldn't you know it, the Artik Gods were smiling on us, because somehow, the artik truck found its way to us. Maybe he was also looking for a good place to mangal. So the outing started off with happy, sticky children. The children then entertained themselves by alternately collecting things, running around, and playing on the "playground." Soon, the BBQ was ready. Donny did an outstanding job - we had chicken wings, hamburgers, and Real American Hot Dogs, with Sauerkraut. Is there better way to celebrate Israel's independence than with a grilled beef hot dog? I didn't think so. As real American Israelis, we take every opportunity to celebrate freedom from the British, via hot dogs.
The best part was that toward the end of the outing, the sun had conveniently moved so that our little table was in the shade, and we were able to sit back and relax with our chicken wings. Ahhhh. The life.
So thanks to the Shmilversteins, co-authors of the forthcoming book on Israeli living "Dipped in Chummus," we had an awesome, authentic YH. Artiks, mangal, and random park. We then came home and bathed the kids; Yaakov, who had helped Daddy "bake," was a particularly lovely shade of dirt.
I'm thinking of going right now to claim out our table for next year. But I don't want to miss the fireworks!