Eretz Yisrael, Here I Come

September 3, 2020 5:41 pm
September 3, 2020 5:41 pmLeave your thoughts

By Deb Hirschhorn, Ph.D.

This Covid thing has created in me a sense of unreal. The reality I always knew has changed, and I’m in rebellion. I don’t want to believe it’s real. I don’t like it. It’s not nice. Keeping a distance from the people you love most in the world? That’s not nice at all.

I suppose that is exactly how prisoners feel. Well, their situation could be very nice. For us, everyone on the outside, that is. If they’re legitimately there, in prison, that is. It’s nice, and it’s fair.

But this Covid thing has come along and treated innocent bystanders with a wallop. Of course, since it all was ordained by HaKadosh Baruch Hu, it must have been good. And since good is sorta like “nice,” maybe it was nice in some way I can’t understand. And fair? Well, I can’t understand that one at all, so I’ll let it go.

But now I’m wondering if the shadow of Covid hanging over the Holy Land will somehow tarnish that glorious place. Is that possible? Those who live there are dealing with it the way we’re dealing with it here: objecting or complying but not very happy.

But my question is not: has it tarnished people’s attitudes? Because Jewish attitudes over the millennia have gone to something less than pride-inducing. That is par for the course. The question I have is: has this tarnished my attitude toward the Holy Land? If I set foot there, will it make me feel like its special wonderfulness has diminished any?

So I am soon to find that out.

I took a brave step. I am going.

I was supposed to go for Pesach, and you know what happened. But I also had a ticket for the yom tovim because my grandson there is going to be bar mitzvah Parshas Bereishis. And I just don’t want to miss it. I’m stubborn that way.

I have been careful these long five months. Really. Gourmet Glatt, G-d bless them all, delivered my food faithfully every week, even when it was an eeny-teeny yellow bag’s worth. (Remember I live alone.) I always wore my mask and stayed away from shul even when it was re-opened. For quite some weeks, anyway. Eventually, I started going.

And only when my doctor gave me the green light to visit my daughter did I go to Kew Gardens Hills (because her family has antibodies).

So what happened to me now? Why am I going instead of keeping up my usual caution?

I don’t know.

As I’ve said many times in this column, humans are irrational. And I’ll be the first to admit that I am part of the human species.

I have a longing to see my Israeli family. And a particular longing to hear the bar mitzvah boy lein.

As it so happens, I needed to fix my ticket to reflect the two extra weeks that I would need so as to stay all alone in a strange room across the street from my children’s apartment for two weeks. Yup, I’m putting myself through that.

To get to that moment, I also needed to apply to the State of Israel for the privilege of doing so. As it happened, they passed the “grandparent rule” which allows people like me to journey there for weddings and new babies as well as bar mitzvahs. As a good friend of mine commented, “Only in Israel.” The government knows that savtas and sabbas must not be left out. They can have their internal battles and external coups, but in the middle of all that, they somehow would not forget the grandparents.

So, I’m going. Because I filed endless documents – including a hastily made “invitation” to an event that no one else will be able to go to, I don’t think, and of course, Covid insurance, amongst all the other things.

The requirement is that when I step out of the airport, I do not take a taxi or a bus. I’m certainly not going to rent a car that will remain parked and useless for 14 days. And my children did not have the disease, so to get to where I’m going, I need to find a driver who will pick me up. I leave that to my son and his many connections.

And of course, included in my luggage will be a thermometer. That, too, is a government requirement. Fine. I don’t mind.

My thought was to write you a travel-log as I did two years ago, although you might find it utterly boring, I don’t know.

That’s the thing: If I’m stuck in a dark room (one of those buildings built into a hill so one side of it is basically underground even though I’m at the top of the hill) just doing the regular work that I always would do at home, what will I write about? I can’t imagine.

But I guess that’s the fun of such journeys. Even when you can’t imagine, you’re kind of open to new experiences, so even trivial things can take on meaning. We will find that out, won’t we?

Next week’s article will be “normal” – or whatever they actually are. I leave in two weeks.

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