on hurricanes, memories, and a secret path to Jerusalem

by Leah Bieler

Hurricane Irma has mostly passed, and it seems Florida has been spared from the worst of it. But other places were not so lucky. In the Times of Israel, I mourn for a place that was taken from me, even though it was never mine to claim.


I’m watching hurricane warnings on the news, and it all seems so far away as the crisp hint of fall air hangs over New England evenings. It has been uncharacteristically cool, this last month of summer. Visiting Cape Cod, we explored the tidepools and I didn’t even bother with a bathing suit, certain I would regret swimming the moment I exited the water and got hit by the ocean breeze. The kids ran out, teeth chattering, demanding towels.


Though we live in MA, and spend our summers mostly landlocked in Jerusalem, their primary experience of the ocean is from St Martin. For more than 25 years, my family spent vacations on the beach there. My parents, in a transparent bid to keep their teenagers, and later their grandchildren, spending a chunk of time together, provided the setting. They would rent a house big enough to fit the entire family, and simply wait as the positive responses poured in.


As a teenager, it was so freeing not having to fret about a scene around a hotel pool. The house was so far down the beach that few people passed by. I swam for hours at a time and listened to the waves roll in. If it rained, we played cards, or read, not bothering to change out of our PJ’s till the sun peeked through the clouds.


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