He may have traveled over 5,700 miles, but my son Zack is just a local call away.
That's because these days, for a relatively modest fee, you can give your kid a cell phone with a "virtual" U.S. number, creating something of a bizarre illusion that he is just a train ride away in the 646 are code rather than on another continent with a 972 country code.
Of course, even when you're talking to your kid more often than when he was home, the illusion doesn't last long. The day's headlines shock you to reality as you cope with the terrifying feeling that you can't easily get to your offspring in an emergency; likely not even within 24 hours.
And Israel is pretty much in a permanent state of emergency.
All the more so with the possibility of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities looming and Islamic radicalism fired up all over the Middle East.
You read that protests are erupting near the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, and you have to touch base to make sure that little boy who used to fall asleep in your arms, who used to greet you the door with his Winnie The Pooh videotape in his hands, who just over a year ago was practicing to get his license, stays clear of that area so he doesn't get caught up in an anti-American riot.
Not that there weren't troubled times during my long stay in Israel. There were bus blasts and shooting incidents that must have worried my parents. A close friend and neighbor whose daughter is also in Israel for the year assures me he's not worried at all, insisting the situation there is no less precarious than any other. But I suspect it's partial bravado, and that like me, he'll be a parent first and Zionist second if Bibi Netanyahu unleashes some bunker-busters targeting Tehran's nukes (likely prompting rocket attacks from pro-Iran forces in Gaza and Lebanon).
That could mean the difficult decision of calling the kids home early.
Better to feel guilty about doing that for the next few decades than to confront a more unthinkable alternative.
For now, there's not much I can do but watch the situation and pray, and look for all the help I can get.
On evev Rosh HaShanah, I made my first pre-Yom Tov visit to my mother's grave and sat on the newly grown grass beside the fresh monument.
In the final years of her life she was forced to rely completely on the help of others. Now, I believe she's in a better position to help the ones she loves.
"Please look out for your grandson," I asked.
Because where she is, talking to God is a local call.
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