After coming from many directions to JFK airport last night, our 40 trip participants (Goucher, Towson, UMBC, Hopkins, and Loyola students) joined two other Taglit-Birthright Israel groups from Baltimore and a few hundred more people on an El Al 747 bound for Tel Aviv. The flight was smooth and uneventful; just a few minutes after sunset Sunday evening, our students and we arrived in “42 pieces” safely and soundly. While our two American staff members have flown to Israel a collective 30 or so times, we have never waited as long as we did earlier this evening to pass through passport control. We later learned that there’s some reorganization happening in the part of the Israeli government that handles passport control that may account for these temporary kinks in the system.
We met our tour educator, Assaf, our bus driver, Misha, and our guard/medic, Tal. We also met the eight Israeli soldiers who join our students as peers and full participants throughout our journey in Israel. After exchanging money, picking up our rented cell phones, and listening to a welcome and introductory talk about Taglit-Birthright Israel, we boarded our bus and headed north (and a little east). We stopped in Afula for delicious falafel for dinner; and completed our journey to Kibbutz Sha’ar Hagolan’s guest house, which is located on the southeast corner of the Kineret (Sea of Galilee). The kibbutz guest house has different nature themes decorating each room. Our students have settled into their rooms, and we are looking forward to a 7:30 AM breakfast before we begin touring the Golan Heights at 8:15 tomorrow morning. Since we emerged from the airport after dark, we eagerly await our students’ reactions to their surroundings in the morning for the first time in daylight.
Meanwhile, as the sun sets back in the States, we appreciate your presence from afar.
Yona Gorelick (Goucher Hillel) and Jason Klein (UMBC Hillel)