My mom is arriving in Israel tomorrow, bright and early (or rather, early and very dark, before sunrise). It’s her third trip to Israel and her third time coming all the way out here to visit me.

It’s always exciting to get visitors out here, especially those among my inner-most circle. With my mom, it’s even more so, but aside for the obvious reasons.

When I told my mother about my decision to make aliyah, she never once expressed opposition or disappointment, whether she really felt it or not. It was the opposite; I could feel the pride radiating from her, pride for the fact that I believed in something so deeply I was willing to fulfill it.

Of course, it was pride mixed with pain, as her only daughter would be voluntarily moving halfway across the world and for reasons she didn’t necessarily believe in herself. But I respect so much of the way she has supported me over these last 5 years.

And I’ll always be grateful for and cherish it.

City feature: Ashkelon

It’s not hard to imagine immense burnout after a vacation-less summer, so this past weekend we ditched Jerusalem and ventured to Ashkelon.

For a lot of people, the coastal city of Ashkelon is not the first place they’d go for a break. But for us, it was a great idea: relaxing, quiet, sunny and plenty of beach. A home away from home, if you will, considering the neighborhood we live in.

It’s also a popular spot for visiting French tourists, and we were actually the only Anglos around for miles (vacation enough for me). The residents of Ashkelon tend to be either Mizrachi or Russian. It’s sandwiched between Gaza to the south and Ashdod to the north. Its beaches are quieter and cleaner than Tel Aviv’s, since it’s a less populated city.