Last night, I helped Jeff (a friend from Otzma) with his birthright trip. This entailed my going to the airport with him, handing out tickets, name tags, helping logistically with all the kids, since his co-leader (another Otzma kid) is already in Israel. I happily obliged (plus the $100 I will receive helped!).
I have to say, this 5 hours at the airport was totally overwhelming. For many reasons.
First of all, birthright is for kids who have never been on a peer trip to Israel. A majority of these kids had never been AT ALL. And were generally ignorant of Israel and Jewish-related issues. They didn't know the word aliyah, for the most part. So here's this group of 40 kids, going for the first time to Israel, the place that I have decided I will make my home.
Birthright was where it all started for me. My first tastes of the distinct Israeli hummus (much better than the too smooth, industrial stuff we have here), first exposure to the amazing, unique character of the Israeli sabra, and my first experience in the sands of the Negev desert (where I will be making my life soon). Just to name a few firsts.
These 40 individuals are embarking on the beginning of a (potential) journey that started for me nearly 7 years ago. That thought gives me pause.
Second-the location that we met the birthright kids was the same location in Terminal 4 of JFK that we all met for Otzma, just a little over 2 years ago. It evoked a feeling of deja vu. And a feeling of sadness. But mostly, I was filled with so much excitement, thinking back to that year that I really had no idea what it would be filled with, that turned out to transform my life and its path.
This combination of seeing these birthright-ers at the beginning of their journey and returning to this same location that started the year-long Otzma trip all made me very overwhelmed and excited at my future.
I then returned home (a long, dreadful subway ride--this theme is recurrent, as the subway is a daily, or more, part of a new yorkers life) to have fitful, bizarre dreams about this birthright's trip arrival to Israel, about people from different parts of my life somehow getting in contact with each other, and more.
Last night made my decision to make aliyah much more real. It reminded me how I got to this decision. It showed me that I, too, will soon be at the airport, filled with nervous energy and excitement to start the next segment of my journey.