Monday August 24th 2008,
It's been just over a week, and I wanted to write about my deepest feelings to one day share with the next generation.... There, done.
It's been about a week so i figure it's time for the 1 week review. But that may take too much effort so i'll begin with the first day, which is actually two sea level Earth days.
The journey really began way back in the end of July. We moved out of our apartment July 30th. We sent all of our belongings aside from the few necessary items we would require for the next 3 weeks. For me this consisted of..2 pairs of underwear (more on that later) 2 pairs of socks, 2 undershirts, a pair of jeans 1 shirt and some toiletries. The other 9.5 - 30 kg(70lb) duffle bags belong to my 2 ladies.
Our Flight wasn't scheduled for another 3 weeks, but fortunately for us the shippers provide excellent size cardbord boxes which can also be converted into 2 bedroom apartments.
We however moved in with my In-Laws for the next few weeks, and everything was perfect (yes, i'm sure family will read this).
There are a few decisions in my life up to this point where I can honestly say it was perfect. The experience that I had on that airplane some 700 Kilometers above sea level in what otherwise would have been a cramped oxygenless sweaty environment instead became 11 hours of bliss. Not for one second did did I doubt my decision to wear my brand new pair of Underarmor underwear. Now, I'm not trying to market these for anyone, they can pretty much sell themselves. But it is the total package. Comfort support and most of all they breathe.
We arrived at JFK a good 3 hours early, 3 hours from the scheduled departure time (It's not my place to start rambling on about how our flight got delayed on the JFK runway for 2 hours, but i will say that in my past career I did some design work on that airport and I've seen the baggage conveyer belt system in acton and I believe with a whole heart that if you want to witness a miracle, just stand at the baggage claim and see an ordinary traveler retrieve his luggage) we were greeted with a bottle of water and a package of papers for our flight. After a few family photos, which for some reason security at El Al made me delete from my camera, there was a short goodbye ceremony with a cake. Yes, these organizations send us off in style.
This flight may could have been like any other 12 hour EL Al flight, sheva berachot in the seat next to us, funny bone bumping against every known piece of plastic and metal usable on a 777, and of course sweet red Prigat petel. But this flight was different. It was more annoying since they also had agents from the Ministry of Absorption coming around while you were trying to sleep for those few hours they pretend are night even though all you have to do is open the window to realize there's a giant sun right in front of you, and they're attempting to take down your information in order to process your new identity. Fortunatley for me My name remained intact, but Rena will forever be known with the maiden name, Frotzter.
But as with any good event involving 220 Jewish people crammed into a confined space, Jewish Geography was rampant. I leave that game to Rena, as my list travels as far as me and my 1.5 year old daughter who lives in the same house as me (and recently all too often even in the same bed as me).
At this point the real ceremony began. It was an awesome event, most notably for the people NOT on the airplane. Hundreds of family and friends along with politicians, soldiers, and Ben Gurion staff awaited our arrival. They cheered and sang and hugged and kissed the new immigrants (that's me). When I get a chance to watch the webcast I may even remeber a few pointed moments, but ater a span of 26 straight hours awake all I could see was a lot of these walking around:
Unfortunately one of "these" is an American size twin bed, and the reality is I won't actually be seeing one of those for a while.
So It gets to our turn to exit the airplane. The coveted moment. I walk out into the blinding sun, flags of your new country of residence waving high, I stand at the top of the stariway car and look onto my new homeland holding my toddler in my arms, with my beatiful wife leading the way. It was a scene I will never forget (I do however sometimes confuse it with the scene from Con Air when Nic Cage first walks out of the airplane in slow motion..a free man..I also saw the movie one day before my flight).
Israel now has a spectacular new airport, with terminals that extend to the actual airplane so that no longer does the average traveler have to exit into an unconditioned space. But When an immigrant arrives it's different. They want you to feel like you are the the same as the first immigrant who ever arrived by airplane to this county. We get the full new immigrant experience, ground -kissing ability and all. I would have dropped to the floor, but i didn't want to make Rena jealous.
We were lucky enough to have one of the camera snap a quick shot of us on the runway. One of the workers told me that the original ruway from '48 had been recently recovered for our flight. Unfortunately during the recovery a small pottery shard from the Byzantine period had been discovered and the site has now become an archialogical excavation.
More to the point. We had arrived. A lot of planning, job quitting, money spending, living arranging, furniture selling, networking, appliance shopping, utility disconnecting, and mental preparation had culminated at this single moment. The day he Landmans moved to Israel.
It kind of reminds me of November 5th 1955.
To Be Continued...