Posted on: September 22, 2011
After two weeks, twenty-nine donations, countless blog posts, blog RP, Tweets, RTs, and Facebook status updates I am going to Israel! I’m going to Israel because of people like you. I can’t say thank you enough and I’ll never be able to express my gratitude. It sort of feels like the day that Rabbi L set a date for my conversion. For a bit over a year I was working towards my conversion and with one sentence the process of becoming a Jew would end and life as a Jew would begin. I’ve been working towards this trip and raising awareness for donations for almost two weeks and now, it’s happened. I raised enough funds and I’m going…now what?
I wait, that’s what. I’ll be arriving in Tel Aviv a day before the trip begins (it was cheaper to fly earlier rather than to stay later) and I have a twelve hour layover in Brussels (Yay Passport Stamps!). I’ve avoided reading the paper and anything, really with regard to the political climate in Israel right now, but I know it’s intense. Since the flight is booked, I’ll be spending the next month or so reading up on as much information as I can, while trying to remain open-minded, clear-headed and focused on why I wanted to go to Israel in the first place, to see it for myself.
I can remember the first time that I found Bethlehem on a map. Every Christmastime I’d sing carols, read carols, and re-tell the story of Jesus’ birth. I have to admit that I was shocked to realize that I could find the actual city of Bethlehem on a map. I was even more shocked that places like Galilee, Jerusalem and the Red Sea were also actual places. When you grow up reading fairy tales along side Bible stories you sort of lump the two together. Some Bible stories are so miraculous, they seem impossible. As a kid you’re trained to know that a frog will not turn into a princess, no matter how many times you kiss it. I figured, the story of Mary and Joseph going from inn to inn was just a story. The the splitting of the Red Sea was a great story climax, not actual events in history. This discovery of real places on a map doesn’t mean that I think God actually split a large body of water or that inn-keepers turned away a woman in labor. There is no evidence, as far as I know, that either event actually happened. On the other hand, the places that I will walk in November will be the places that our ancestor’s walked. The cities that I will visit are not only actual places, but places I’ve read about since I was a child.
Going to Israel as a Jewish woman has a set of feelings of its own in addition to the Christian history I come with as a convert. It’s all so unbelievable- one of the oldest, most recorded, and most ancient places in history will be mine to see, feel, smell, touch, and taste in a few weeks. On this day in November, my trip will be over and I will perhaps be changed. Perhaps I will not be changed. Perhaps I will walk away with completely different feelings about Israel than I do right now. What I know is that when I speak of Israel on November 22nd and opposed to September 22nd I will be a different person.