I consistently get weepy on the last few days of any trip to Israel. Here are the things that made me cry this time:
The day before we left, we met with the head of a seminary to which we are considering sending our oldest daughter when she finishes high school. As we were leaving, almost as an afterthought, he told us about how the seminary’s trip to Poland is so impactful and how it helps the students appreciate the importance of Eretz Yisrael.
He told us about a student who called her American parents from Warsaw, Poland last year to say, “Here in Poland, I’ve decided that I need to stay in Israel. I’m making aliyah.” Her parents responded with pride and support and as he’s telling us this story, I’m standing on a residential street in Jerusalem, crying.
Later that day, I went with some friends to see an all women’s production of the story of the Book of Ruth. After the production, with the whole cast on the stage, the director comes out to make some announcements. “One of our lighting and tech crew members is leaving to join the Israeli army tomorrow,” she says. And then she proceeds to bentsch him, as parents do for their own children on Friday night, by reciting the Priestly Blessing. “I want to live in a country where such a thing as this can happen,” my soul shouts.
And then everyone sings Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem, and I begin to weep, covering my face with my hands because the longing is so intense.
One of the last things I did before we left our apartment was walk around and kiss each mezuzah. These are the very mezuzot I visualize in my mind each night when I say, “U-chtavtam al m'zuzot baytecha u-vi-sharecha: And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” While waiting for the taxi, I stood on our porch and looked over Jerusalem, sending up prayers that Hashem bring me back very soon, weeping the whole while.
I always cry as the taxi drives out of Ma’ale Adumim and on to the airport. It takes all of my control not to wail. This time, on top of all the heightened emotion of the moment, the taxi driver said Tefillat Haderech aloud as we left Ma’ale Adumim and entered Jerusalem.
And I had to stop crying long enough to say "Amen".