I think I’d already mentioned that I was exploring my maternal jewish roots. To be honest, I have explored them to varying degrees, many times over the years, but always seemed to get stuck; the kind of feeling that one probably should leave these things alone. However that situation was about to change with the catalyst being my fathers death and the inevitable aftermath. Cutting a long story short, it was my mother whose personal history and lineage began to come to life after so long being pushed aside and ignored, which I could no longer do. So, I began my jewish education as a very adult, adult! Why? because it mattered, at long last I could admit that.
So, after almost two years of study with my Rabbi mentor and the support of several others, it was time to decide if re-joining the ‘tribe’ was something I should be doing…yes, there was no question it felt right and that was that…
A little trip now in order; first to Philadelphia close to where my Rabbi resides and in whose Synagogue I would encounter the ‘Beit Din’ or jewish court (these are usually three Rabbi’s or Cantors) they are the gatekeepers of the ‘faith’ and they meet with you to decide if one has progressed far enough in the education programme, mastered enough Hebrew and most importantly was of sincere intent. Then a visit to the Mikveh (ritual pool) to dunk three times…..
Here’s how it all went……….
Thursday 11th July Air Malta to Tel Aviv – only a couple of hours and a good route to the US..
Friday 12th July arrived Abraham Hostel for two nights – a great place to stay for all ages – met people even older than me….great atmosphere and you can do your own thing, fully equipped kitchen or eat communally – I did both. Lots going on here but you can opt out in a corner somewhere if it all gets too much……..
Sunday 14th July – El Al flight to Boston – just over 11 1/2 hours no problem…arrived Boston for connecting flight to Philadelphia with just one hour 50 minutes to get to another terminal and do the transfer bag thing…..which went badly wrong..as there is no transfer desk – you just hand your reclaimed bag in at any old desk and it gets labelled…ok, I’m out of practice
… Boston security found my neatly packed and sealed duty free goods bag (from Israel) almost too tempting – he could see into the bag, but looked around for a pair of scissors to make a proper job of examining ….his colleague managed to divert his attention to the elderly couple next in line; they were from Iowa and had a bag of boiled sweets! yes! can you believe it? a bag of boiled sweets; Mr Security man promptly began to scan and swab the bag and its contents….meanwhile my flight had 3 minutes to go, the departure gate was in sight and I was practically dragged shoes in hand, onto the waiting flight…phew! they all clapped……..
Arrived Philadelphia – wasn’t sure what to expect really; I mean, it’s not New York is it………..checked into my city centre hotel and played with the coffee maker, checked out the shower and inspected behind the basin taps….sorry, it’s a thing with me….
Monday 15th July – spent hours walking the city – it’s actually quite impressive… lots of buildings, eateries, museums and that bell of theirs, the Liberty Bell; I thought it was going to be massive, it isn’t….and its broken…meh!
Tuesday 16th July – At the Synagogue all day today – my big day really..celebrated in the evening with food from Ammas (Southern Indian Cuisine – just one block away from the hotel…)
Wednesday 17th July– weather getting hotter and CNN reporting storms moving closer; those of us checking in for flights needed to vacate the city earlier than normal, so I did..
…later that day…nicely boarded onto AA flight to Zurich; this flight only 8 hours! great stuff….we boarded on time….then waited, and waited….first of all the captain declared the plane ‘too hot’. OK, I get that the plane is hot; it must be cooled down before we can take off; then the lighting flickered on and off….so maintenance had to board to fix the problem…then the storm really did move in….we were still attached to the airbridge so people wanted to get off the plane to get to a shelter in the airport building. No, we couldn’t do that as part of the airbridge was now very wobbly from the storm wind…so there we sat ….3 hours and 15 minutes later we took off. Many people, including me had connections to make at Zurich; I had a 3:50 minute gap. I wasn’t going to make it…especially as we had a medical emergency on board (turned out not serious) but needed paramedics to board the plane when we finally did land at Zurich…..
Oh, that sinking feeling at the luggage carousel when your bag does not appear……the staff at Zurich pretty much totally useless in the information department; that is, apart from one AA representative who calmly rebooked me onto another flight to Tel Aviv later in the day, checked my luggage would be held and loaded onto the rebooked flight and best of all arranged for access to the premium lounge for the rest of the day! woo hoo…free food, posh seats and a super view onto the runway…well kind of super view, it was ok anyhow. Made huge inroads into the very passable green curry on offer and generally regrouped, as you do…
Thursday kind of disappeared with the time difference etc., and turned into very early Friday morning at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport; umpteen security checks then onto hotel..the rest of Friday and Saturday spent just chilling out. Tel Aviv is a fabulous, young and vibrant city with several excellent beaches – yes, I did the beach thing, walked in the parks and did the beach thing again….
Sunday I joined a small group on a private tour of Jerusalem. A nicely paced trundle round the four quarters of the city, visiting various landmarks and places of interest, then lunch with the afternoon taken up by a visit to Yad Vashem (Holocaust Memorial) which covers a huge area just outside the city limits on the western slope of Mount Hertzl. It is a place of remembrance, of ongoing documentation and research…charting the years from 1933 to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948; it is strong stuff…
Monday 22nd early start to the airport for quickie flight home…plane full of Israelis mostly coming to Malta for a holiday (we’re very popular as a holiday destination and there is an increasing Israeli workforce here, mostly in startup gaming businesses)
Arrived back at number 5 around 5pm as planned – lovely to be home…sharing a few pics below