Day 1 by Kylee Warshaw

By May 7, 2014Birthright

Going through El Al in Newark was very different than going through any other airline. I started dropping information, everything and anything I knew about Judaism, to make sure I was given the okay with security. They asked the name of my congregation and how often I attend Hillel at FSU. I felt a bit nervous since I hadn’t attended in a bit for reasons other than high holidays. After we arrived in Tel Aviv, customs was a breeze compared to the questioning in the States and what I was expecting. We started our adventure in Caesara. It was amazing to see the 2000 year old aqueducts. Being inside the aqueduct, getting a bit closer (literally) to the past, was a bit surreal. I still wasn’t quite connecting or understanding that my people actually helped build this city. It was just the start to me building a relationship with the past and my religion. After this, we went to Nahal Memorial. When we got off the bus, I was a little nervous for the sirens that were supposed to sound. We took a 2 minute moment of silence and after these 2 minutes I was transcended. A soldier approached us wearing the uniform I had only seen in pictures on my cousin and his friends. When we got to the wall with the names of fallen soldiers, I realized how recent these falls were and how if I lived here it could have as easily been my name on that wall and my parents visiting my grave today. It was embarrassing because I kept confusing Memorial Day with the Independence day because they are right next to each other. I knew that we could be expecting a polar change in emotions from one day to the next but it wasn’t until I was piecing together my day on the bus that I realized why. It is sad to lose those we love and we shall miss them dearly, but it is equally if not more important to celebrate their lives and the reason that they died fighting. From what I’ve learned so far, Israelis are all about resilience and enjoying life. Celebrating our independence right after honoring the fallen is just another way of being strong and resilient.

Author Dan Leshem

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