“@RabbiLevy You sound like a 16 year old about to go on EIE or something…”* read the tweet sent out into the twitterverse by my daughter last night. Her tweet was in response to a string of tweets that I had sent out as I waited to board a flight to Israel (according to the flight map, I am currently somewhere over Ireland).
Her words brought a smile to my face for two reasons. first because it’s nice to know that she actually follows and pays attention to my tweets while she’s away at school. It’s her first year away from home and I really miss our regular morning drives and occasional D.D. coffee runs. Home feels a little empty without her (Don’t even get me started about next year when both kids will be away… I know, poor Julie!). Knowing shes following me (and I her) somewhat bridges the distance.
The other reason her words made me smile is neatly encapsulated in my reply: “I know! 😀 #alwaysatygeratheart”. Each time I make my way back to Israel, I do feel like a 16 year-old going for the very first time. Even on a Federation sponsored Rabbinic mission that will be taken up almost completely with meetings, with little or no free time, my heart and soul are filled with youthful excitement.
My father, a passionate Zionist who at 87 years old stills sees himself as an ardent Betar-nik**, took me to Israel for the first time when I was a chubby faced 13 year old. It was a special father-son experience that to this day transcends any others that we have shared because of its lasting impact. He transmitted to me his love of the land and its history, his passion for our people and the sense that wherever we might live, Israel would always be home. From that time forward my heart has always been turned to the east and Eretz Yisrael has always occupied a deepest part of my soul.
Traveling back I can’t help but feel the joy and excitement that I felt during those days so long ago. Israel is not just the land that God promised our people, it is the home my father personally bequeathed to me.
The hashtag that my daughter put at the end of her tweet let me know that, perhaps, in a very sweet l’dor v’dor moment I was able to do the same for her during our trip to Israel: #atleastyouregoing.
I think I know how she’ll be feeling as she makes her way back home on a Birthright trip next year.
* EIE – Eisendrath Israel Exchange program is NFTY’s high school semester in Israel.
**Betar is the youth movement of the Revisionist Zionist movement founded by Zeev Jabotinsky z”l