There is a Yiddish saying “Man plans, God laughs”. Itineraries can attempt
to plan a trip- but how often does the journey go the way we planned? After
three trips to Israel, the combination of serendipity and spontaneity has
proven to be a most enjoyable travel reality.
This particular February morning in Israel greeted our group of thirty-five
people with sunny weather and the welcomed smell of spices wafting from
vendors lining the block.
This time around, I was visiting Israel as part a nine-day congregational
family trip led and organized by my mother, Cantor Rica Timman, and Israel
Tour Connection. In the northern city of Haifa, we saw the Baha’i gardens.
At night, the lights around the steps and temple lit up the Haifa sky like a
theater set. On the streets below, the bustle of the cars radios blaring
music in both Hebrew and Arabic was the soundtrack. In Tel Aviv, we
experienced the diversity of modern Israeli life and explored the country’s
history and art.
After four days in these cities, it had seemed that everyone had acclimated
to the culture, that is, until we went to Jerusalem. This time instead of
travels checks and cash, we came with donations of hair and one thousand
I donated a seven-inch braid to Zichron Menachem, an organization in Israel
based in Jerusalem that makes wigs for people with cancer. Although it was
only a small donation, I knew I was making a difference, and a part of me
was going with that hair, to give comfort to someone in need.
Our next stop was an elementary school in Jerusalem where Palestinian and
Israeli fifth graders were learning together. My eleventh grade class
participated in a peace project through the story, “Sadako and the Thousand
Cranes”. Sadako was a girl who had gotten leukemia as a result of the
Hiroshima bombings. While she was hospitalized, her best friend told her of
a legend, that if a sick person makes one thousand origami cranes, a miracle
will happen. Sadako made these cranes until she died, and became a symbol of
peace and healing. My class was so inspired by this story that we decided to
make our very own thousand cranes. We decided that they should go where
Sadako’s message of hope could be made a reality.
At the school, we met with students and administrators, to share our gifts
of a thousand paper cranes. By the end of our meeting, everyone had tears in
their eyes. This encounter made me realize that even as a traveler, you can
have a real impact on the places you go. I didn’t feel like a tourist, I
felt like a part of a larger family.
After many pictures and tissues, we boarded the bus to head out and continue
our journey. There was only one problem: the street was too narrow for our
bus to get through. After a few minutes of maneuvering attempts, the bus
driver told all of the boys to get off the bus and move the parked cars over
to let the bus through. I couldn’t believe the sight! No where on the
itinerary was manually lifting cars in downtown Jerusalem at noon. But so it
was. And it was one of the best memories I took with me from a place I have
visited many times before. Looking back at the itinerary for our trip, the
day’s events that were most significant to me are not to be found. The
unexpected experiences between the lines are the ones I will always keep
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