Memories of A Trip to Israel

This page was written more than four years after the events occured, so it may not be entirely accurate and is definitely not a complete account of the the trip. I do have some notes that I made while travelling and I may come back and update this after consulting those. In the meantime, if you were on the trip and have more info, or just want to say "Hi" then please drop me a line.

Quick Reference

Background
First Impressions
Some Activities
Miscellaneous Memories
Trip Photos
Other Places


Background

The trip was a combination of the UJA Campus Leaders mission and a more general student mission. Because I was co-chair (with Rachel Nowak) of the Tulane United Jewish Appeal campaign (more information about that can now be obtained from Tulane Hillel), I received a discount. I obtained additional funding from the New Orleans community and my Grandparents generously helped out with the rest. So the trip was paid for.

This was the first time I had ever left the country and needed a passport (one is not required to go from San Diego to Tijuana!) so that was a bit of a hassle, but I managed it. Part of the problem was that we were supposed to depart around 23 December, 1993. Since the govenment tends to slow down around then, I was a bit worried about getting my documents in time.


The Outbound Flight, Initial Impressions

The folk on the misssion were all pretty friendly. We flew El-Al and although the food and service wasn't great, it was copious and pleasant (respectively). Best of all, from our perspective, was the free booze on international flights. More than one person on the flight had a doozy of a headache by the time we arrived in Tel Aviv. But the flight was a great chance to get to know some of the people I'd be spending the next ten days with.

Arriving in Israel was a strange experience. On the one hand, I wanted to be deeply moved and emotionally touched -- here I was in a land where Jews had lived for 4000 years and was a safe haven for Jewish people. On the other hand, I was in an airport. My primary concern was actually my luggage, and it wound up taking several days for it to sink in that I was in the Jewish homeland.


Some Activities

This is a bit of a hodgepodge of memories. Looking at the program would allow me to put all of this in chronological order and get the specific locations right, but I don't have that in front of me so I'll just go with the mental flow.


Some Miscellaneous Memories

During the longish bus rides we were kept entertained in a variety of ways. Our bus driver was a former tank captain, and his driving reflected that. We were stuck behind a few cars near the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, and he was all set to ram the car in front of us. Our guide had to calm him down and convince the other drivers to pull over and let us through. The guide was also a character and regaled us with stories from his military career.

Einat, an Israeli studying in Harvard, was on our bus and she made a point of reading us the news each morning. That was usually followed by a ritual debriefing, in which one luck person got to share their thoughts and feelings about what we had seen, were going to see, or wanted to see.

Aron and Dave, both studying at American University, kept the entire bus laughing. Dave had some notion of becoming a Rabbi (I wonder is he has), but they would do this ridiculous Seinfeld routine. It was funny then.

Despite the hustle and bustle of touring as a group, I did get the opportunity to know a few people well. Rebecca and I had some fairly good bus conversations, although there are few things more revealing than 13 hours of transatlantic conversation.

After the farewell dinner in Tel Aviv, we broke up into various groups for little parties. I think the wine was from room service, but the musical entertainment was top notch.

On the way back from Israel the plane ran out of orange juice. Before breakfast. But all those screwdrivers didn't prevent the people from Long Island from joyously cheering when they recognized the first malls on the eastern seaboard. We were back in the States.


Last modified: 05/04/1998 17:32