I have never been to the Grand Canyon. Or to Mount Rushmore. Or even to one of the Carolinas.
But I have been to Israel 3000 times. Give or take.
I have to say I am lucky, I know many people who have never had the opportunity to go even once. But my parents took the family vacation thing seriously and it was always nice to go, we always had a great time….except the only 2 places we ever vacationed to were Miami or Israel.
I am certainly not ungrateful. Family vacations to Israel were quite fun. We saw relatives, davened at the kotel and best of all got to eat at the kosher Burger King (and let’s be honest, that is the highlight of any trip to the Holy Land).
But now that my first ever “family vacation” next week is ironically a trip to Israel, I have to say I am not as excited as I had hoped.
Part of me is scared. It’s a long airplane ride with my beautiful girl-but my parents are coming too and I know Mahotma Baubie is going to be the most wonderful help. And there is of course the whole 7 months pregnant thing- but we are going fancy shmancy business class (yay frequent flyer miles!) so I’ll be comfortable. The doctor just gave me the all clear. And we’ll take it easy on all of our site seeing (though we tend to focus largely on shopping and eating). So I don’t have a reason to be too scared.
Part of me is kind of bummed. My last babymooon was a trip to Hawaii with just my husband. A trip to Israel with my husband, 2 ½ year old daughter and parents will be nice, but not quite as sexy. Of course my body is not what I would call bikinitastic right now, so it probably is best to not take a trip to some exotic island where I would feel the need to walk around half naked for most of the day.
And part of me must be slightly self-hating as the idea of spending my 2 weeks of vacation with a bunch of Jews sort of scares me. I like Jews and all, but somehow entrenching myself in Judaism (again-with my parents and daughter) less of a fun vacationy treat.
Mostly I am mad at myself for not feeling that sense of excitement and gratefulness and Jewishyness that everybody who goes to Israel feels. Even if I could bend down, I don’t see me bending down and kissing the holy ground. But I am getting to do something for the 3001st time that some people only dream of. And I get to be with my daughter when she gets to experience it for the 1st. But yeah, none of those great Jewgly Mooglies.
Maybe all those trips to Israel as a child spoiled me. Was I allowed to have too much of a good thing?
Well you know, I am 100% certain none of us appreciate food and water nearly enough. Most of us are blessed to have plenty (and if your Shavuot was like mine, too much) of those. But we would be broken and sad and sick without them. So maybe the same can be said about trips to Israel. The sort of “spiritual nourishment” is needed to fuel our appreciation for who Jews are as a people or how far we’ve come or see where we’ve come from.
So maybe if I’m not chomping at the bit to go, a part of me still needs and wants to be there. I don’t have to be like nearly every other person out there to appreciate that good Jewishy feeling. And besides, when I go up to get my second Big Mac I will feel VERY blessed to be in the holiest of lands. And hey, who knows-I might even make the journey down to the ground to kiss the sacred land in front of the french fry station.