Continued from Part IX
We have concluded our trip with a wonderful time in Tel Aviv and while I have enjoyed my first time in Tel Aviv, I wanted to revisit something I said earlier.
Early on, I discussed how I had hoped my first trip to Israel would be the opportunity to make friends that I would have my entire life and, how, at the end of that month, I was disappointed. I didn't connect with anyone and, while I loved my time in Israel, it was, in essence, a rather lonely and isolating experience.
That led me to a resolution on this trip, one that probably sounded a bit rude and selfish. Namely, that this trip was for me. Just me. And if I made some friends along the way, fabulous. If I didn't, no biggie. I was going to enjoy this time for myself and myself alone.
How wrong I was.
Recollecting her experience, one of my friends wrote that meeting people on this trip was like meeting them in dog years, it was a seven to one ratio.
And she was right and wrong. Right in that, as if we had traveled near the speed of light, time really did slow down and my relationships with so many of the friends I made on this trip evolved much more quickly than they did with people I've known in other contexts. Wrong in the ratio. Within these ten days, I've met people that I feel like I've known for my entire life. And even though I haven't, I certainly know I'm going to know for the rest of my life. Some because we call one another whenever something happens overseas. Some because we call one another whenever we're in town. And some, very special ones, who we call whenever we want someone to talk to.
And, as you read early on, this was not the way I anticipated things would end up. After my first Israel experience, I didn't think I'd see any of these people againe. But now, I'm talking to them, with calendar in hand, looking for the opportunity to see one another again. I call them when we are in different terminals of the airport, just to tell them that I miss them already.
So, while so much of this trip was building my spirituality and my bond to Israel. It actually built something much more important. Something I've been missing for some time.
It built me a Jewish community.
It's a community of people throughout the state and the nation.
And it's a community that, no matter where I am, is always there for me.
And, perhaps that the real value of this experience. Knowing that there are so many other people like me who are so different. Knowing that we may disagree and have different values and argue like family, but, when it comes down to it, we're there for one another when we really need help.
And that enormous, unbreakable bond extends out of each of us, winding together like tree roots, and extending over the vast oceans to a little country that's smaller than New Jersey and the people who live there.
A little country with a simple blue and white flag with a Magen David in the center, built on blood, sweat, tears, and most importantly, eternal hope.
Some final shots of Eretz Yisrael (transl. "The Land of Israel"). A shot from my balcony in Tel Aviv, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea...
A sign at the Marina in Herzelia, in case you're curious how far it is from Moskow (2620 km) and Tokyo (8000+ km). Just don't ask me how much that is in miles...