Israel: Arrival

(Originally posted 6/11/08)

Yesterday we landed in Israel.

After JFK closed to all incoming arrivals, many flights were cancelled, delayed, or diverted. Mine was diverted. A 5 hour flight turned into 9 and I was one of the last of my particular group to arrive. However, 70% or more of our plane was filled with various Taglit participants, so I was not by a long shot the last passenger to arrive.

Security was intense in a strange way. They asked questions such as, ‘What holidays do you celebrate?’ ‘What is your rabbi’s name?’ ‘What is your Hebrew name?’ Though I could not answer every question, I wasn’t concerned. I tend to pass these sorts of personality tests.

Once we were onboard the plane I slept a lot. Next to me was an empty seat (probably a participant whose flight was cancelled) and that was a beautiful thing. During the 11ish hour flight I was entertained by games, sleep, and the happy endings of 3 movies.

In Israel we went through customs briefly, claimed our luggage, changed our money, and got on the bus. Our tour guide introduced our driver, Yehuda and our soldier/medic Gilad. Our guide put on some Israeli music, ‘the best Israeli sleepytime music” and I let the sound drift over me as I watched the lights of the airport and Tel Aviv through the bus window. “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” played in a combo of Hebrew and English and I drifted in and out of sleep.

Our hotel was on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Because it was built into a hill the reception area was on the 19th floor and our rooms were below. I was made room captain (lame!) so was given key and wake-up duty for the girls. I shared the pull-out couch with a girl from Texas named Sarah. In the other room, Ryan, a girl from MA slept. We chatted for a while but eventually slept a few hours.

Our beautiful view greeted us this morning, farmland and sea. Breakfast was odd and foreign, but eatable. If you avoided all the fish pieces…

Time to hop in the bus for our first adventure!!

Shalom,
Shaina

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