...One year ago today

Two years ago today...

I always smile when I see this notification in my photo gallery. A bunch of random pictures that pop up once in a while and bring up great memories. During this particular time, those memories on my phone have never been so related — three unforgettable stops along a beautiful journey…

Two years ago today

August 2020. It's the end of a summer vacation just a minute before I start my senior year of high school. My dad and I are driving up to Jerusalem for the frontal sortings of the Jewish agency's Shinshinim program, which I first wanted to try in Spanish. I took this picture as I was practicing on my Spanish notes on this long, long early morning drive to Jerusalem and was thinking, Maybe if today goes right, I will be able to dream about this unbelievable experience in Spain, perhaps even South America, or maybe I'll just have a couple of hours where I can practice my Spanish and its rolling R's.

I did not know what to expect but knew that this was another stage, in a way to an experience like no other. It was the beginning of a beginning, but the moment I left the bricked building in Jerusalem on this warm end-of-August day, I knew that I wanted this experience to begin.

A year ago today

August 2021. Last moments before the big adventure. I just finished high school, and it was a summer like no other where I have been trying to collect as many memories as I possibly can, while my friends and I are all waiting in this station of life for our next ride, some of us now knowing when or what, and for some of us, it’s a really long ride to the other side of the world. I've been going through millions of preparations, seminars, and conversations that were supposed to help me be the most prepared for this year.I kept trying to find information about this completely new place for me and new adventure, But nothing can actually prepare you for an experience like this.

Looking back in time, it was a magical phase of unique, extraordinary moments before the adventure that (I hoped, and was right) will be the most meaningful in my (not so many) years so far. So I packed two suitcases, my LA Lakers coat, and went on flight DL1188 to Detroit, with so much left behind and much more to discover.

What about Today?

I'm on the airplane. on the way back. After extending my trip a little more so I'll have just a few more days here at home in Detroit. Then the extended flight was delayed, and then canceled. You can’t blame me that I was skeptical when I actually took off from Detroit that I was actually heading to Israel.

After spending a beautiful and much needed ten extra days in Detroit with the people that became my family and friends, I have had some of the hardest but most beautiful and special goodbyes that made me realize how meaningful this time has been. It took me back in time exactly a year ago and reminded me of how hard were the goodbyes, and leaving home. I went on the airplane with four suitcases this time – and so much left behind. And I guess, still more to discover.

It's a long flight. As I was thinking of how to even start describing to my family, friends – and even you, whoever reads this – the experience I just had. What do I start with? How do I explain or tell or describe? How do you even begin an answer to a question as big as "So, how was it?"

When I finally landed, I immediately regretted the hoodie I was wearing and realized that I was about to go straight to the heat of August in the Middle East. However, I did not regret the bag of cookies from the Detroit cookie company that I just had to bring back to the holy land of Israel.

And as I see everyone, I understand that just like in those "random" memories from my camera roll, my journey is full of popping up memories, that keep coming up all the time and every day, and reflect the experience in a way that is sometimes even better than a thousand words could tell.

Two years ago, I practiced an interview in Spanish with no idea what it would lead to, and today, I'm unpacking too many suitcases full of a whole new wardrobe of Michigan (and Michigan State) clothes.

It doesn't just end after unpacking. I don't think it does end. Home in Israel's Detroit partnership region, I was due for a dentist appointment. As I walked in, the dentist spotted the gray Michigan shirt I got on one of my many Fridays in Ann Arbor. She had to ask:

Have you been to Michigan? I've been an Israeli camper a million years ago and I'm still waiting for the chance to go back.