My husband and I brought our 8-month-old to Soroka hospital last night after midnight, where he was admitted immediately for a meningitis scare (obviously I’m only able to write this because the scare has passed and test results came back negative). My infant son had a spinal tap at 3am, and I was scared out of my mind, but he is okay and is getting back to himself.
But here’s why I’m really writing this.
After a rough night (to say the least), my baby boy woke up Friday morning smiling and playing and pretty much normal (except for the IV in his left hand), ate a bottle, and had juuust fallen back asleep. Minutes later, a group of young people all dressed up came walking through the hallway, Mickey Mouse and balloon animals in tow. I was nervous they’d wake him, but they tied a balloon to his sterile crib and left without him even noticing. Then came anther group – with instruments and kippot. They came and asked if they could play music and I requested they play quietly for the girl sharing our room, behind the curtain divider.
What came next from behind that curtain was the sweetest, softest version of Shalom Alechem. To say I teared up is an extreme understatement. Maybe it was the exhaustion, the emotions running high, but I was so incredibly moved by this tune – the same tune I’ll sing tonight at my Shabbat dinner table, the same tune my family and probably millions of families have been singing for generations. But this version, accompanied by beautiful acoustic guitar and soft drumming on bongos, was so powerful. Here I am, I live in Israel, I moved to this country that my ancestors dreamed of. And in a terribly low moment, when my Israeli born son got sick and I had to spend the night in a children’s hospital (a place no new parent, or any parent, wants to spend the night), I was filled with tears of joy – the sounds of Shabbat, of comfort, of years of tradition, filled the hospital hallway – and I was home.