It’s a pretty amazing place, this Israel. After waaaaay too many hours on the plane, I arrived. My brother’s betrothed, Gali, is amazing. I would choose her for my friend, but happier to have her as my sister.
The short story of why I’m here is this: My father married a woman named Liz in the mid-60s. They had Ilya in 1965. She kidnapped him and took him to Israel when he was 3, in hopes that my father would never have access to him. Dad then met and married my mother, and I was born in 1968. for many years, he tried everything he know — legal and, eventually, illegal — to get his son Ilya back.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Ilya was raised every day to believe his father was a monster. His mother would quickly remarry and have two more daughters. Cut to 1982, and Ilya was finally allowed to visit us for the first time. It was a good homecoming, it was instant family and he and I have had a very special fondness for each other ever since.
Today Ilya, Gali and I sat around the table and Monday-morning quarterbacked the last 42 years. Versions of history clash, accusations become memories become truths. I am very — quite possibly overly — defensive of my dad and his honor in all this. Ilya and I keep reminding ourselves and each other that the past, while not irrelevant, doesn’t need to be figured out, because we are good, we are here, we are family.
Everyone and their versions of the truth. In the end, whether it’s family or a fucking holy war, I think everyone’s doing the best they can. Aren’t they? But can’t we just do a little better?