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Israel 2009 – Day 1: The Journey and the Flame

October 20, 2009

When you speak with people who have visited Israel numerous times they will usually tell you that each trip is a unique encounter with the Jewish State, a moment that glows from its own unique set of circumstances and experiences. They say no trip is ever the same as the last one, and they always find something new to love about Israel (and sometimes even something new to find frustrating). Whether its businesses, family or friends (and often it is a mix of all three), there is a spark that brings you to the Land and its People, and it is rarely a solitary spark. It is one that kindles on from time to time and is difficult to extinguish without actually indulging it. Yes people visit Israel for necessity, but more often they visit by choice because of a desire that burns inside them.

This trip is my second trip to Israel, the first was a few years ago as part of my experience with the Wexner Heritage Program.  Not a tourist visit, that trip was an educational one that exposed me to richness of the modern Israeli experience and the complexities that envelope it. I knew then it was the first of many visits, and this trip confirms it– this is a different trip, a business trip, but one that will also touch upon the business of the Jewish people. Interspersed with the business meetings in Tel Aviv and Herziliya will be meetings related to the President’s Conference in Jerusalem as well as some meetings in connection with the Global Emerging Leaders Forum organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel.  Between all of those business meetings will be meals with friends and former teachers, and hopefully the opportunity to meet new friends and teachers as well.

However, my departure from Atlanta to Israel was a keen reminder of just how difficult it can be to get to Israel, literally and figuratively. After boarding for an on-time departure, we all were required to deplane because of damage to the plane’s cargo that occurred while loading the aircraft. Despite the frustration of being waylaid on a much-anticipated journey, our experience waiting into the wee hours of the morning taught me two lessons from this trip before I even arrived in Eretz Yisrael. First, it was a subtle reminder that we all bring so much to Israel in our hearts, our heads and our history that sometimes we need to be careful what and how that cargo is brought with us. We try to cram so much into a place and a promise that the effort alone of packing it all into one vessel can be overwhelming and even damaging. If we bring too much with us, we may not have the room to bring back with us that which we learn and live during our visit.

Second, the few hours waiting in the gate with my fellow travelers reminded me that the spark that draws each of us to Israel is different for all of us and the “all of us” is a very diverse group. I met Israeli’s returning home and Americans moving to their new home.  I met a group of Christians who were visiting Israel for, in some cases, the ninth and tenth time and a child of a Holocaust Survivor visiting Israel for the first time. I met yeshiva boys an retired rabbis, men in black hats and little girls in baseball caps; each with a spark for Israel, each kindling a different flame. After speaking with many in this crowd I realized that although our plane was intended to take off into the moonlight, perhaps it was more fitting that this plane full of human sparks an aspirations rose through a sky beginning to fill with sunlight.  As I dozed off for some much overdue sleep, I was comforted by a thought and a prayer: the thought was that our luminescent plane was hurtling towards Zion, its passengers’ collective glow blending into the sunlight of tomorrow’s promising trip to a Promised Land, and the prayer that there may always be, for all of us, a tomorrow in Israel.

From Tel Aviv – Lila Tov.

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2 comments

  1. Thanks for the beautiful depiction of your experience.


  2. […] is dependent on a People called Israel. Of course the land is filled with the People (and as I wrote yesterday, in many ways the land fills the People), but nonetheless there is an important distinction to be […]



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