El Al, Seat 48 J, 7:30 PM – destination: Israel. Today, I embark on the journey of my ancestors, to rediscover my homeland, understand Israeli culture and people, and follow the steps of zionist leaders – while creating a few footprints myself along the way. Together with eighty-nine of my fellow classmates from the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, in the suburbs of Washington D.C., we embark on a transformative journey that began with a joint prayer.
׳׳יהי רצון מלפניך ד׳ אלוקינו ואלוקי אבותינו שתוליכנו לשלום ותצעידנו לשלום. ותדרכינו לשלום. ותגיענו למחוז תפצנו לחיים.׳׳
“May it be Your will, our God and God of our ancestors, that You lead us to peace, guide us towards peace, and make us reach our desired destination.”
With that our journey began, our footsteps leading to Jerusalem and a wind of expectations and desire for adventure pushing us from behind.
Whether the tenth time traveling to Israel of the first, our journeys are sure to be unique, original, and life changing – they are an opportunity to obtain knowledge of the Jewish state and have it come to life, make the homeland of our people our home, and write a page of our people’s collective story.
We’ll add our fingerprint to the Kotel; our fingertips feelings thousands of years of heritage, kisses, tears, and prayers of fear, sadness, and joy. We’ll experience the magic of the dead sea, and watch in awe as the sun rises over Masada. We’ll experience beauty, culture, and traditions; and we’ll gain an understanding of the sacrifice that keeps the country safe as we undertake a glimpse of IDF training.
When we embark to Eastern Europe, our trip will be a time to recall the darker moment’s of our people’s history and gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of the State of Israel, and together pledge: Never again.
As an active pro-Israel advocate, the opportunity to experience the heritage of the Jewish people and the State of Israel is unique. I take every step with a sense of pride – this is our homeland, this is the homeland we’ve built together, and this is the homeland we will ensure the longevity and perpetual strength of together. Every step along this journey furthers my knowledge, appreciation, and commitment to and for the State of Israel – every step is another word in our story.