I had a lot of special moments on our recent family trip to Israel but Jacob Spenadel provided special moments for all of us almost every day. Jacob has Downs Syndrome and has limited endurance for the rigorous schedule we kept every day, morning to night.
Each morning Jacob would come into the dining room and greet me with a smile and say “Boker Tov Mrs. Stein”. He did this to everyone on the trip every day. It was a great way for all of us to begin our day. Jacob was a part of every activity that we did. He climbed Masada at 4:30 AM, climbed down the narrow steps to go through Hezekiah’s tunnel in David’s City (the tunnel is dark, very narrow and has water in it which in some places came up to his hips), walked through the tunnel by the Western Wall, rode a camel, dug for artifacts in a cave (and he actually found a piece of pottery that was half of the bottom of a pot), went spelunking in another cave where we had to lie on our backs to get through narrow passageways, floated in the Dead Sea and loved standing under a waterfall at Ein Gedi. With each experience he smiled and often said “this is amazing”.
Jacob was an inspiration to all of us. Most of the time he started out being reluctant to try new things. With gentle prodding from his parents, sister and papa, he almost always ended up doing the activity and being so pleased with himself that he did it. All of the other kids on our trip took a special liking to Jacob. Everyone took turns pushing his stroller when the terrain was okay for the stroller. The other kids were always very encouraging to him and he felt a real connection with his new friends. I must say, it gave a special dimension to the trip that I had not considered but I was so happy to have Jacob as part of our group. Jacob, you are amazing. Beth, Joel and Hannah, you are all amazing too. It’s not always easy but you guys are the best parents Jacob could ever have.