Why is this flight different from all other flights?

I’m in my seat all strapped in, the doors have been closed, and the plane is taxiing towards the runway at Geneva airport. My headphones are in and I’m completely focused on my game of ‘2048’ which I’m about to beat my high score on. Before I know it we’re soaring into the sky and the seat belt signs have turned off. It’s not until the child sitting behind me squeals with delight and kicks my seat that I realise we’re no longer on the ground. The kick removes my focus from the game and I ponder briefly the strange normality of something that in many ways is completely insane. Apart from the kid behind, I’m surrounded by adults who like myself seem perfectly at ease with the fact that right now we are sitting in what is essentially a large metal tube hurtling through the sky at several hundred miles an hour. I know I’ve done this a million times but is it simply frequency that has removed, for myself and the other adult passengers, the magic all children seem to feel during take-off.


This strange thought then leads me off tangentially to think about the next flight I will be taking in just over a week and a half. I realise I have butterflies in my stomach. On July 10th I will board an El Al flight and make aliyah. I’ve flown a lot this year; this particular flight from Geneva to London is actually my 21st flight in the last 13 months but it’s only my trips to Israel that produce the childlike excitement that I’m feeling right now as I think about my next flight. I don’t know whether it’s just me but there is something undeniably different about flying to or from Israel for Jewish people. There’s that strange buzz you get as you take off from your departure location and the smattering of applause or sometimes even the odd whoop that inevitably breaks out upon touch down in Ben Gurion. On leaving you can always spot the people craning their necks to grab that last view, out the window, of the Tel Aviv coast line. Yes. I think it is safe to say there is definitely something different about flying in/out of the holy land.


This next flight for me though is different. This time I don’t know when my flight back will be. I’ll just be going… Even as I type this I can feel my stomach doing somersaults. For weeks people have been asking whether I’m ready and I’ve always said I’m not sure. Physically, I pretty much am, my paperwork is all in order and I just need to pack my stuff, but emotionally I haven’t really known yet. I mean it’s been on the horizon for 7 years at least but, actually doing it seemed quite far off. Now my Aliyah is so close and I’m only just realising it. All the odds and ends are falling into place now and the loose ends are being tied up. I’ve finished my job and am now “officially” unemployed, I’ve had my farewell/lehitraot drinks with my friends and my family have organised a whole weekend of goodbyes for family and friends this weekend. It certainly feels as if I have basically checked out.


The more I think about it though, the more my excitement grows and I realise how ready I actually am. I’ve been waiting long enough! It’s time for the waiting to end! I’m off to start the next chapter of my life… and I’m enormously excited to see what it’s got in store for me!

 Veshavu Banim Le’Gvulam!

About the Author
Yosef Tarshish is the communications manager for WUJS (the World Union of Jewish Students) and is the immediate past president of the Union of Jewish Students of the UK & Ireland. He holds a BA (Hons) in Youth & Community Work from Manchester Metropolitan University. He is passionate about post-denominational Judaism, global Jewish people-hood and creative community development. Yosef made aliyah to Jerusalem in July 2014 and is living his #Aliyadventure to the absolute max.