Israel Keeps Calling Me Back

Israel Keeps Calling Me Back |

I woke up early this morning, earlier than I had to. I always get anxiety before I fly. I don’t worry about the act of flying itself but about everything that comes before. Did I pack everything I needed? Will I get to the airport on time? Will my bag meet the weight limit? Am I at the right gate? I was especially anxious this morning because I am leaving for five months, the longest I’ve ever been away from home at one time.

I’m writing this on the plane. My pre-flight anxiety is gone. Everything worked out the way it was supposed to. Now I’m feeling a mix of excitement and post-flight anxiety, because in about 19 hours I’ll be in Israel.

I’m excited because I will be interning with the Jerusalem post for the next five months. I’m doing this through two programs called Masa and Real Life Israel. (Masa is incredible about finding a trip to Israel suited to you. Check it out if you want to spend time there.) I will be living in the center of Jerusalem in a great apartment in a wonderful neighborhood. I’ll be learning Hebrew and taking trips throughout the country. I’ll be spending time in the Jewish homeland. I couldn’t as for more out of a trip.

As excited as I am, however, I’m also feeling anxious about leaving for so long. Israel is going through a tough time right now, but honestly the conflict is not causing me much anxiety at all. What is causing that is the fact that I’m leaving my family when they are also going through a tough time. My brother is an addict who can’t seem to stay clean. My Geegee (which is what I call my grandma) has stage four stomach cancer. It is incurable, and the chemo is making her incredibly weak. My dad is going through some serious and crazy upheaval at his work. I want to be there for all of them right now, rather than on a plane across the ocean. 

I feel selfish for feeling so excited, but a friend of mine recently helped me realize that going to Israel is exactly what I need to be doing right now. I’m an empathetic person, especially when it comes to my family, but my friend showed me that leaving is the best thing I can do for them right now. I can’t be there for my family if my heart is somewhere else, so I need to go to Israel, recharge, and come home ready to fully commit myself to my family. This was a hard thing to realize, but I know it’s the right thing to do. 

A week ago, my rabbi blessed me on my travels during Shabbat services. When I came back to my seat, my Geegee and dad were both crying. That was when I knew it was ok for me to go. My Geegee cries at everything, but the only other time I’d ever seen my dad cry was at my bat mitzvah. When I saw him crying last week, I realized how proud he was of me. I realized that my going to Israel was doing more for my family than if I had stayed home.

So here I am on a plane to Newark. I have a layover there for a couple hours, and then it’s on to Tel Aviv. My bags are so stuffed I had to sit on them to close them, but I’m pretty sure that means I didn’t forget anything.

I’ll be updating my blog regularly while I’m in Israel, so keep checking back here for photos and stories about my travels. I might also throw in a Hebrew swear word of the day, so that’ll be fun. For now though, I’m going back to sleep. Jet lag will not get the best of me. Hopefully. Goodnight.

11 hours later.

I promise I really did write this on the plane, but there was no WiFi in Newark airport, so I couldn't post it. I'm posting it now, though, in Jerusalem, in my apartment, trying not to fall asleep. I've been up for about 26 hours now with a few naps here and there. I'm about to go unpack to try to stay awake. Wish me luck.