Monday, January 25, 2010

When I Was a First-Timer: Departure

Six years ago today, I was in the El Al terminal at JFK about to set off on my first trip to Israel as a participant in the Union for Reform Judaism’s Lech L’cha: Go Forth and Discover Mission led by Rabbis Lenny Thal and Elliott Kleinman.

Here’s what I scribbled in my travel journal as our group waited at the gate to board the overnight flight:
Twenty minutes from home to the entrance to JFK. Arrived very early at the airport and had coffee with Ma and Daddy before meeting up with Elliott and some of the group. Ma’s words to Elliott upon leaving me in his “care,” were something like, “Here she is. If anything happens to her, I’ll kill you.”

Security check-in was uneventful except for having to take my cell phone accessories from my suitcase for special x-ray. At the gate (B28) by 4:25 p.m., where I met and schmoozed with fellow travelers. A bit before 6 p.m. several men came through our group looking for minyan participants. Of course, they didn’t want me. Early on, Josh Goldstein earned my respect when he went to the minyan, but returned as soon as they had 10. Kudos to him for using his feet to vote for egalitarianism. Interesting to watch the others shuckle the ma’ariv service. More later…
Over the next few days I will, I know, read and re-read the entries from that journal a hundred times, remembering those incredible days and my whirlwind first visit to the center of the Jewish world. I’ve been back once since then, but I am, as always, trying to figure out how I might go again…this time for more than a handful of days.

Any ideas?