Passport to Israel 2007 - My Family Travels

A trust walk was nothing knew to me, and so, when our leaders ordered us into a silent line, I closed my eyes and laid my hands on the shoulders in front of me, sweaty with the surreal Israeli heat. Whispers and giggles floated effortlessly into the mid-summer air, anxiously awaiting an unknown destination. As the line came to a halt, our leader’s voice, hushed and guiding, asked us to all be silent for the first few minutes, just to take it all in — its beauty, its meaning, the significance of that moment. Hand in hand, we opened our eyes simultaneously to a sunset over the Kinneret and the city of Tiberius. The sun had just been hidden in the distant mountains, leaving a lingering water colored, painted sky. The dark blue faded to a purplish, then green, then yellow, and finally a ruby grapefruit red stained against the ominously dark mountain stretch. The sky was clear, save for a crescent moon and one, scintillating, lonely star. The holy city of Tiberius lay beneath, peacefully sparkling in gold pixie dust; its reflection just as piously calm in the reflections of the Sea of Galilee.

Myself and a few other people moved forward to the cobble stone wall. There were a few hushed “wows,” but we were silent, no one dared, or perhaps, could, talk. And so, for the next ten minutes we stood and watched in silence. We all had our own thoughts, our own feelings of odyssey, yes, we all had our individual emotions, but at the same time, we were all connected through that silent, Israeli sunset. After those precious moments, our leader asked us if we got it.  Why we were here, why did we decide to spend this summer in Israel. We all could have toured America, or even Europe, but for some reason, we all chose Israel. This was followed by silence, then, one by one, we broke it. People started calling out their answers, what they were thinking, why we were all there and feeling something that unexplainably amazing.

Most of the light was filled with quietness, and then, the suns rays retreated and darkness triumphed. Soon, the bodies become faceless and as the Coyote cry’s faded with the light, people began to talk. Different voices, different stories. Each told of memories held silent throughout the years: My friend told of an older brother who never got the chance to grow up, and this sunset was filled with his smile. Another said that she felt her childhood had just ended. People laughed, then more silence- she said, seriously, going to college, growing up, she realized with this sunset that adulthood had begun. A softer voice declared they had never seen a sunset. Our leader told of how this sunset reminded him why he first fell in love with Israel. As each of us spoke, more and more sniffles were heard. Even though it was dark and nothing could be seen, everyone cried — girls, boys, young, and old.

I am not entirely sure why I cried. Perhaps I cried for my loved ones I had lost, or for how beautiful g-d’s creation was. Maybe it was for all those soldiers who fought for this sunset and never saw it; for all those innocent lives taken by ruthless killing that never got to experience a moment like this to take your breath away. I cried at the enlightenment I had, the realization that I am growing up, that one day my parents would no longer be there, that I was getting too old to believe in the second start to the right. I realized things that I cannot explain in words. I felt emotions I had never felt and doubt I will ever feel again. There is honestly no way to explain that night on paper. It was the most awe-inspiring, emotion-filled moment in my seventeen years of life.

When traveling, people tend to believe that the illustrious sites are what make it worth while. According to those individuals, seeing the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Towel, or the Great Wall of China constitute a great vacation, the most unforgettable memories. Nonetheless, the most brilliant moment of my trip to Israel last summer did not come from the sight of Jerusalem nor hiking in the Negev Desert. It came from something that occurs every day of every week of every year. Most people overlook this event, not because it is hackneyed to watch it over and over, but simply because they are too caught up in visiting the “big spots” to be bothered to sit down for sixty minutes and watch — silent, motionless, and uninvolved. I now challenge you not to be like most people. To, on your next vacation, sit for a mere hour and watch the most breathtaking show nature performs.

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