After a wonderful flight on El Al, we landed in Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion Airport. The sight of the Israeli flag on Israeli soil brought tears to my eyes. I felt, “I’m home”.
There is an intangible feeling that pulses through me when I enter Eretz Israel, the land of my ancestors. The airport is architecturally beautiful with Jerusalem stone. The building encompass me with silent whispers – “this is your homeland”. This is the ground of my forefathers from millennia ago.
Today I am welcomed by large photos of those who are still held hostage in Gaza, whose faces seem more welcoming than any airport personnel or digital signs of greetings, but in an ominous manner. They remind me why I came to Israel—to do my part as a Jew who has the means and the desire to fly over to where volunteers are needs. I’m looking forward to reporting for service on Sunday.
Usually, Ben Gurion is hustling with crowds of people. Today, no planes are at the jetways except those from El Al. The dining hall is empty. The entry ramp is sparsely populated with incoming travelers. At the entry to immigration, the split between Israeli and foreign passports was demonstrative with 95% of all travelers taking the straight path for those with Israeli passports; very few people with foreign passports turned to the right for non-Israeli visitors. I walked through the desolate baggage claim area which eight months earlier when I had visited Israel to celebrate its 75th anniversary of statehood had been bustling with tourists.
As I sat in the back of the taxi taking me to my hotel in Yafo, which is the south portion of Tel Aviv, I looked over the land and the vista of the city. As always, I marveled at the amazing growth of Israel in 75 years. Amazing ingenuity, creativity and perseverance of the Israelis to build a city so vital and prosperous. The chants that I heard on television of “from the river to the sea” which call to the elimination of the Jewish state seem so stupid because most of those chanting them have never even visited Israel and experienced what a vibrant and productive city Tel Aviv is. I’m thrilled to be here and dedicate myself to helping Israel in its time of need.