Updated: May 6, 2021
Guest blog by Barbara Gordon
Barbara Gordon only came to Israel for the first time at 83 years old, after her granddaughter made Aliyah. Keep reading to hear about her experience in Israel, and what it's like to have a loved one make Aliyah!
My favorite food was falafel. My favorite book was Leon Uris’ Exodus. My favorite movie was Exodus. And my favorite song was Yerushalayim Shel Zahav. So why, at the age of 83, had I never been to Israel? I had only dreamed about it.
Well, on March 10, 2019, my dream came true. I am getting ahead of my story though.
One of the motivating reasons I took the enormous step for me of taking such a very long trip at my age, was that one of my granddaughters had made Aliyah. I wanted to see her, after missing her for many months.
I had mixed emotions of course. I was proud that Becca felt so strongly about her Jewishness that she was brave enough to leave her family, friends, and country to live miles away. Having to learn a new language and new customs. But, I was devastated at the thought of Becca living so far away, and knowing at best, we would probably be together only once a year.
Now back to my trip…I wanted the full Israel experience. My daughter, Becca’s mom, and I flew El Al. I was so excited I didn’t sleep a wink on the plane. I kept watching the little map in front of me and waking up my sleeping daughter to tell her where we were in the world. I was mesmerized by everything we flew over.
As we neared Israel, I felt so emotional. Landing at Ben Gurion choked me up completely. And seeing Becca with a big sign welcoming us all to Israel brought me to tears.
The tears kept coming time after time, as we visited so many places in our beloved state of Israel. At 83 years old, I saw my first real palm tree. And I was obsessed with the cacti I saw growing in the moshav where Becca lived -- but most incredible was the hospitality we experienced wherever we went.
We went to Yad Vashem first, which served for me as a stronger commitment to the saying "Never Again." And then there was my first view of the Kotel. I have a needlepoint I made of the Kotel that hangs on my wall. It was tangibly emotional. We placed our hands and foreheads on the cool wall, and put our notes in whatever openings we could find. We left feeling the deepest sense of spirituality, pride, and love.
The contrast between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was shocking. Israelis are amazing -- they do not sweat the small stuff. They enjoy their lives--their culture, their children, their coffee. I have never been so proud to be Jewish and of the state of Israel.
If you haven’t been to Israel, and you think you can’t…remember that if I can at 83, anyone can!