As promised, the focus of this blog is a quick recap of my family’s visit to Israel. Also in this blog, how Israelis (and a few Canadians) can really help fill the void of having a family so far away.
First things first, my parents and my nana came all the way to Israel and were my first ever visitors in my new home as an expat. I spent months planning this trip down to every last detail and could not have been more excited to share everything I love about Israel with the people I love most. The visit was everything I hoped for and more. Although they were only here for one week, we fit as many activities as humanly possible into that time (and as much hummus as humanly possible).
We found ourselves in Jaffa, Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Masada, the Golani Junction, the West Bank, Jerusalem, Neve Tsedek, Caesarea, Haifa, and even Pardes Chana. It was so wonderful to finally be able to show my family what it is that makes me love Israel so incredibly much. They were also here on both Memorial Day and Independence Day, which was truly something special (it was my first here in Israel too!). We all got to experience the Memorial Day sirens, watching every car pull over and every Israeli stand in observance. It’s such a powerful moment and I’m so glad my family got to experience it with me. We got to celebrate with the airshow the next day with thousands of Israelis gathered on the beaches of Tel Aviv. We saw a camel, the Bahai Gardens, ancient ruins, desert and sea, we floated at the lowest point on earth and saw both Israeli and Palestinian villages, we prayed at the Western Wall, ate Shabbat dinner together, and planted four trees. We truly got to experience Israel together as a family, which is something I’ve really missed since I moved here.
Israel is always wonderful and magical to me, but experiencing it alone is wholly different from being with family. Being together with family makes everything more special and meaningful. Check out our greatest moments below!
Now, I am the first to admit that moving away from one’s entire family is not easy. In fact, it is quite difficult and sad at times…but if I could choose one group of people to be surrounded by to help with this…it’s definitely Israelis. They are so warm and welcoming and always ready to help.
Soon after my parents and nana departed, I had a business breakfast. I expected this to be a formal meeting with high ranking executives…but what I got was casual breakfast with a group of extremely friendly people. In fact, once they learned I was alone here in Israel, I was immediately invited to Shabbat dinner at their homes. Not only that, they told me they would be my second family. This happened no more than thirty minutes after meeting. These people owed me nothing, in fact, they were doing me a favor by meeting with me. And yet…here they were offering to be my second family and to cook me Shabbat dinner. Israelis: I love ya!
Now, Israel is a place of Olim (immigrants) and tourists, so you get to meet people from all over the world. Before I made my Aliyah, I got assistance from a Christian Ministry. Different members of the ministry donated to help make my dream come true. This in itself is amazing, but then there was one couple who opted to stay in contact with me. Their names are Robin and Dalton. I’ve been emailing with them for almost one year and just tonight, I got to meet them in person. It’s been really comforting to know that I have people praying for me, rooting for me and caring about me throughout my Israel journey, so I couldn’t wait to meet them. We had such an instant connection and they are truly some of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I learned all about them, their life and their time here in Israel (sadly, they were just visiting and will be heading back to Canada soon) and they learned about me. Before parting ways, Dalton said a heartfelt prayer for me and it was incredibly beautiful and moving. I felt so cared for by these people that in any other circumstance would be strangers. But G-d works in mysterious ways and brings us together with the people who we need, and that’s precisely what happened with Robin and Dalton.
So even though my family has left, Israel has a way of bringing me second families whenever I need them most. Between the people above and my ever wonderful friends, this land is full of lovely and supportive “family”.
Also, thank you to people who sent in list items I’ve missed! The list has been updated! Keep sending ideas my way! Also, thank you to everyone who continues to read the blog…which now has almost 2,500 subscribers….which is insane. Ya’ll are the best!
Stay tuned for some camping adventures from this coming weekend (#11 on the list!!)