September 29, 2018

Shabbat Bliss

Having grown up in land-locked Toronto where the nearest ocean is a 10-hour drive away, I am in constant bliss to now be living near the sea. 

In Israel, I can drive to the beach in 15 minutes so when life overwhelms, I pack a towel and a book and head to the soft white sands of the beaches in Herzliya Pituach. A few hours of being lulled by the rhythmic rolling surf and feeling the sun on my face does wonders to the mind, body and soul.

We have taken our love of the beach to the next level. On Saturday afternoons when it is not too hot, we set out by foot to the beach. It is a 10-kilometer walk and takes just over two hours. As it is Shabbat, we park a car at the beach on Friday afternoon so we can drive home at night after Shabbat is out. 

We take our Golden Retriever TJ,  who, upon hearing the words ‘beach walk,’ starts racing in circles and wagging his tail frantically. 

We then put on our running shoes, a hat and walk out the front door.

We have been doing this Shabbat beach walk for years. It has been so many years, we have seen the landscape change right under our feet. We used to walk from Ra’anana straight into the fields, passing strawberries and orange groves, not exiting nature until we were reached the beach.

The strawberry fields have since sprouted apartment buildings, while some of the tranquil orange and avocado groves have been uprooted to make space for a busy highway. 

Week by week as we walked over the years, we saw the earth being dug up, forming mountains of soil.  These fields soon became on ramps, road and tunnels and the earth was reformed to become embankments beside the highway.

Highway 2 - another road we must cross.
Recently Highway 531 opened up, decisively intersecting our nature walk (at least until they build a pedestrian crossing over the highway near the fields). Sorely missing our nature beach walk, we are always searching for a way to avoid the big roads.  

And today, we found it in the form of a magic door. Seriously. Walking across the highway, we came to abandoned train tracks. On the other side of the tracks was a door that we had seen over the years but not really noticed.

Today, Amir went up to the door and it opened. Eureka! It opened right onto a beautiful residential street in Kfar Shmeryahu. It was like we were standing on Platform 9 ¾ and entered into a new world. Or , was is like discovering the door in the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe?  Like gleeful children, we hopped through the door which mysteriously locked behind us as if it were waiting for us to enter.

We walked through quiet streets, passed majestic homes and verdant parks. Sitting to rest on a park bench, we spied a Roman burial cave that dated back to the fifth century.

We made it to Apollonia Beach just as the sun was ready to set. We sat on the sand and our dog played in the water. There was a strong wind and kite surfers flew across the waves, their kites dotting the sky with multiple colors like a flock of swooping tropical birds.

Children were just putting on the finishing touches to their sand castles before being scooped into fluffy robes by their parents. Joggers were out. Couples walked hand in hand. The sun slowly sank.

We were in bliss. Our feet aching from the walk, we took off our shoes and dug our toes into the sand. The shoreline was tinged orange from the sun. 

We felt whole. We felt blessed. We felt connected to the land and to the sea and to the day. For us walkers, there is no better way to feel fulfilled on Shabbat and no better way to say goodbye to a day that invokes us to put all else aside, to appreciate what we have and to be in the moment. 

None of these photos were taken on Shabbat - they capture the essence of the moment anyway!