Facing Our Fears

by Brian on July 29, 2005

in A Parent in Israel

With his older brother and sister gallivanting around California
presumably having a grand time on an extended summer vacation with their
grandparents, we knew we had to spend some extra quality time with our
seven-year-old Aviv who had been “left behind” in Israel.

This need was made abundantly clear during a phone call Aviv
had with thirteen-year-old Amir shortly after they
landed in Los Angeles.

“What are you doing there, Amir?” Aviv asked his big brother.

“Well, tomorrow we’re going to Disneyland,” Amir said, mostly matter-of-fact.

“No you’re not,” Aviv replied quickly, but there was a muted
look of panic in his eyes. How could he not be
included in the annual Disneyland trip, the penultimate height
of summer fun?

“Yes we are going,” Amir said. 

“No, you’re not!” Aviv said emphatically.

Thinking quickly, I turned to Aviv. “Tell him where you’re
going tomorrow.” 

A faint swipe of seven-year-old smugness settled over Aviv’s

“Well, we’re going to a water park…and you’re not.” 

“Big deal,” Amir shot back.

But it was a big deal.  

As we entered the Yamit 2000 park in Holon with our friends Debbie and Eliot and their two boys Liav and Avidan,
Aviv’s water-loving eyes lit up.

Spread out in front of us were two enormous water slides
that fed into what appeared to be a near-Olympic-sized swimming pool;
a rambunctious children’s area with a wave pool
and randomly timed fountains that erupted to spritz unsuspecting passersby
in the face; and a wacky contraption called the Space Bowl that shoots
the rider into what I can only describe as a giant toilet basin where you
circle round the side at breakneck speed before finally “plopping” through the
bottom into the pool below.

There was also plenty of grass and beach chairs to make a
respectable picnic…if you can hold down your lunch after swirling through that
toilet bowl thingamajig.

But the main attraction of Yamit 2000 was a new indoor
section with what was billed as “extreme” water slides. 

Which is, of course, exactly where we headed first.

There were three extreme slides to choose
from. The “Amazonas” ride was actually pretty tame. You glide
down on a big yellow inner tube. Aviv went with my wife Jody, and I went on my own. It
was a leisurely, almost dreamy experience.

The other two rides were decidedly less bucolic. One had the
calming name “Super Kamikaze.”

“What’s that mean?” Aviv asked innocently.

“Well, kamikazes were pilots in Japan
who dive bombed their planes straight down like bombs. So I guess it’s a slide
that goes very fast.”

Aviv made a face.

“What about that one?” Aviv asked, pointing to the third
“extreme” slide – this one called “The Black Hole.”

I had read about this one on the Internet before we came.
“It’s a slide that goes in complete darkness.”

“Oh no, I don’t want to do that one,” Aviv said immediately.

“You sure?” I asked. “It sounds
fun.” The line was the longest of all, and it was the most heavily promoted.
Extreme slide enthusiast that I am, I figured that ought to account for

“Abba, no! You know I don’t like the dark.”

“You know sometimes it’s good
to face our fears,” Jody poked in.

Aviv looked perplexed.

“That’s when you do the thing you’re most afraid of,” Jody

“Well I’m not doing it, so don’t ask me again!”

And that was that. Or so we thought.

We went on the Amazonas a second and
third time, and on the outdoor slides at least
four. But there was something rattling around in little Aviv’s brain. He didn’t
express it out loud, but clearly he was thinking
about something. We just didn’t know what.

We had some lunch and rested before heading back to extreme action

“OK, I decided,” Aviv announced suddenly.

“Decided…what?” I asked. 

“I’ll do it. The Black Hole.”


“Yes. I’m going to face my fears.”

Jody and I gave him a high five and then, before he could
change his mind, we raced to get in line. The line of course snaked much too
slowly, giving our inner chickens plenty of time to cluck away. But Aviv stayed
steadfast with his decision. We climbed the stairs to the top and then faced
down the Black Hole.

I sat Aviv on my lap and we shot off into the enveloping
darkness. They’d done a good job of painting
the tube black; it was so dark that at one point I wasn’t sure we were even

I kept repeating encouraging words
to Aviv.

“Isn’t this great?” I said. “Not too
fast. Not too scary.”

Aviv giggled nervously. 

The slide sped up. Faintly lit stars appeared on the side,
illuminating our faces. Aviv still looked
tentative. Then the path dropped suddenly. I was thrust to my back as we sped
up with a wicked start. I struggled to regain a sitting position which I knew would
slow us down.

The stars faded and now arrows pointing backward zipped by,
as if to say “you’re going the wrong way, turn back.” Right, like that was
going to happen
. We were locked into an R-rated version of Mr. Toad’s Wild
Ride. I envied the big kids at Disneyland with their safety-tested family fun. Another twist, another lurching turn and then…

 …we were out. Back in the normalcy of daylight. Aviv and I
both caught our breath.

“That was great!” I said, not entirely sure of myself. “Wasn’t

But there was no question for Aviv: he had a huge grin on
his face that said loud and clear that while he may not have enjoyed every
moment, he was darn proud. He had faced his fears…and come through with flying
colors (or lack of color, this was after all the Black Hole”).

“So you ready for the Kamikaze now?” I asked.

Aviv looked at me like I was

“Come on then…” I said. And the three of us got back in
line, fears faced, to do the Black Hole again.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous July 29, 2005 at 10:36 pm

Safta writes:

Hi Brian, that was a great article. I think I might like to try the “black hole” myself. How does the back hold up on that one? One of the ladies in the Havurah sent everyone the article from the SF Chronicle. I am “kvelling” at your positive notoriety! The article was a bit mixed up chronilogically, but the facts seemed straight. Too bad about that “settler” business!
Hope you guys had a good Shabbat and hope to speak to you on Sunday a.m.
2 Anonymous July 29, 2005 at 11:31 pm

Amir writes:

OK, once again my father uses my name and turned me into something that I am NOT.
I understood that Aviv was feeling left out and I did not taunt him like that at ALL! He was the one that asked me what we were doing, not me him!
Anyways, just letting everyone know that I am not that heartless big brother I appeaer to be.
3 Anonymous July 30, 2005 at 8:42 pm

Anne writes:

I have found your blog so interesting. I love the way that you write. I have linked to you on my blog, hope this is OK!
4 Anonymous August 8, 2005 at 6:46 pm

Anonymous writes:

Yasher Koach to Aviv for taking the challenge!

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