Post 10: Landing in Israel

Hasidic Jews, like  McDonald’s hamburgers, come in many shapes and sizes.  Among these sizes are super-sized, which would accurately describe the size of the man that I had the misfortune of sharing half of my seat with (against my will I might add) on the 12 hour plane ride to Israel. This forced me to lean to the left and into the aisle as  I slept, which inevitably meant that the El-Al stewardesses would ram me on their way through the isle because apparently that was more efficient than moving around me. Fortunately, given my combined 15 hours of sleep in the last 5 days, neither the sharp blow to my right side that accompanied each of the many times that goliath the Hasidic jew collapsed back into his seat nor the blow to my left that the El-Al stewardesses made an hourly tradition nor the dozens of crying children could hold me back from sleep. Thank you Nyquil.

As Olim Chadashim (or translated, new immigrants) traveling with Nefesh B’ Nefesh, we were ushered from passport control to the Ministry of Absorption in terminal 1, where we received our Teudat Oleh (which is a booklet that looks like a passport and is badass but actually isn’t a passport. I’ll let you know when I figure out what purpose it serves other than showing it off to people that have not yet received it.) and 1250 Shekels, or roughly $300 in cash and a voucher for a free taxi ride from the airport to anywhere in the country. As the Geto Boys so eloquently put it, “Damn it feels good to be a new immigrant.” Or maybe it was gangsta. Whatever.

After leaving the ministry of Absorption we were brought back to collect our bags and pass through border control, after which were greeted by dozens of singing and dancing teens who had come to the airport to welcome us home to Israel. After a 12 hour flight and days and weeks of emotional and physical drainage, this brought a smile to all of our faces. As a side note, apparently the pound of white protein powder that I had packed in a plastic bag and put in my checked bag was grounds for extra TSA screening of my bag. Who would have thought!?

Addendum:

On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was declared and God’s promise that the Jewish people would again be sovereign in their land was fulfilled.  It’s now 2:22 AM on July the 28th.  18 hours and 32 minutes ago, I became a citizen of that state.  And yet I leave much behind me. Great friends, a loving family, and an amazing country. Thus far I’ve been emotionally numb, unable to cry, unable to look weeks, months, and years into the future. While saying goodbye to my mother was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and saying goodbye to the rest of my family and friends was not much easier, the full reality of the situation hasn’t not yet manifested itself into feelings of sadness yet as I assumed it would.  What is clear by now all ready, though, is that I see the country through a different set of lenses. I’ve walked the streets of Tel Aviv dozens if not hundreds of times. I’ve eaten the food, I’ve met the people, I’ve experienced the bars and the restaurants, and yet it all has a different feel  now.  I am no longer an outsider looking in through the window. I’m a member of the club, an Israeli citizen designated as such by the “law of return,” a law created in the wake of the Holocaust which allows any Jew anywhere at any time to return to the land of Israel, the promised land, as a full-fledged Israeli citizen. Groucho Marx once said that he would never want to be a member of any club that wanted him as a member. With all due respect to Groucho Marx, he was never an Israeli Citizen. And we wouldn’t want him anyway.

7/28/2010

11 Responses to “Post 10: Landing in Israel”

  1. mom Says:

    Beautifully said – thanks for making me laugh + cry at the same time
    I love u,
    Mom

  2. Michael Kleinman Says:

    I’ll see you there bro!

  3. Meema and Poppa Says:

    We are so very proud of your action, and your reasoning behind it. Our thoughts of your decisons are always intermingled with tears, but also a great feeling of love and being very, very proudYyour actions have always been positive, and now the reality makes them more so. WE look forward to hearing of your adventures, and even more so want you to know, out thoughts and prayers will accompany your every move . Stay well, and we hope to see you in December. All our love, Meema and Me.

  4. chris jones Says:

    Well, as I sit at jc montanas listening to the one and only don eddie talking to an emotional russle, after the strangest, most emotionally crippling summer of my life , I get a blackberry put in my hand to ready the beautiful ramblings of one of the best people I have ever met, I sit with a tear in my eye hoping that my dear friend knows what the hell he is doing! I’m proud of you for being 100 times the man I am, I still think the world desurves to know you for a different reason but I also know you will do yourself proud! Remember what I told you and make me selfishly happy and quit. I love you buddy, stay safe and come home! Laterz. Chris

  5. Robin Levin Says:

    Dear Corey,
    I think of you often. I send you friendly warm hugs from Scarsdale!!
    Prayers of good wishes to you. How proud I am know YOU!

    Love,
    Robin

  6. Julie Says:

    On behalf of the Jews of the Diaspora and the Jews in the Platt household, thank you for your courage and love of our State. We are all thinking of you constantly and loving you constantly.

  7. Amanda Stoffel Says:

    Corey,

    Thinking of you every second of every day. Keep these posts coming. We all need them.

    Love always,

    Amanda

  8. Lisa Kourakos Says:

    Ditto to Amanda’s post. Thinking of you, Corey.

    xoxo,
    Lisa

  9. Itay Zaidenberg Says:

    Yo Corey,
    Just wanted to let you know that I’m impressed at your courage and your ability to follow a dream. Roy will be permanently moving to Israel in the end of September, so I will make sure to get you in touch with him. And also, obviously you know I have a lot of family in Israel spread all through the country, each more proud of their country than the next which translates to wanting to help people like you. So if there’s ANYTHING you might need just let me know and my family can help you out.

    Enjoy everything man, and keep the posts coming.
    Itay

  10. sandy oster Says:

    Dear Corey,
    I read your beautiful words and as a mother I cried…and as a friend who knows this is your life’s dream, I laughed! Please know that so many wonderful people are sitting on your shoulders, watching and enjoying every day, every moment you spend in the promised land. We all wish you the happiness and fulfillment you are searching for and dream of seeing you soon and even more fulfilled than when you left! Your incredible heritage of grandparents, parents and siblings will be the strength you need to carry on! Keep those posts and letters coming…the Osters love you and want to hear from you often! Love,
    Sandy

  11. Aunt J my ass Says:

    Corey, Dahlink!
    Love your writing (though I love your speaking even more!) and I expect that you will meet some amazing young women who also needed ulpan because they were too busy flirting and having fun while they attended Hebrew School in their earlier years! In any event, there is no question about you being smart enough to learn what you have to – I took Hebrew in college (figuring on an easy “A” after Hebrew School and Hebrew High School!) and when i got to Israel, all I could think of was my French!!!
    love you lots and wish you the most phenomenal 5771. I am hoping to get to Israel with my wonderful Sol next summer, since he has never been there and it will be my job to educate him properly! (Can you imagine a guy who has been Jewish his entire life and has never been to Israel? Shameful!!!)
    I will continue to follow your progress whenever I have a few extra minutes (which is usually around 5AM!) and of course, will be sending you lots of positive energy wherever you are.
    Love always, Moi

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