Most consider it a blessing to visit the place that is the basis of most religions. Christians find the sea of Galiee unreal, Jews stare in awe at the ancient remains of the Western Wall, and Muslims wait their whole lives to visit the Mosque. I was one of the few with, essentially, no interest in visiting the Jewish country even though I am a Jew myself. The time was rapidly approaching for my bat mitzvah, a time when 13-year-old girls' read from the torah, and my parents had a strong desire to visit the all-Jewish nation. What better time to go than for your daughter's bat mitzvah? It was settled; I'd be having a bat mitzvah at the Robinson's center, a coed part of the wall, as well as one at home for friends and family. I was too immature to realize what an honor and privilege it was to visit this holy place.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
December crept up on me as I was still pouting about having a smaller, simpler party. Our journey started off going to Philadelphia to catch the, what seemed, never ending plane to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. 11 hours. I still can't believe I sat cramped on a plane for that long of a period. Finally, we arrived in the holy nation. A nation full of people,well, like me. We found our tour guide, Leon, waiting, and he was full of an abundant amount of information. For every question you had, he had a half an hour response, which my 7-year-old brother loved. Leon's driver, Mayer, took us to the David Citadel in Jerusalem, and all we could do was stare. The pool had a simply indescribable view (pictured below), and the hotel was a palace. Of Course, the food in Israel was simply to die for.
The first night we went to the outdoor shopping mall across the street from our hotel, The Mamilla Mall. Full of beautiful art, we went into gallery after gallery, searching for the perfect hamsa for our home. In the midst of our search, we came across a great restaraunt, and it was not a disappointment. The rest of our trip was never ending. One day we went to Masadah, another we went to the Western Wall, the next we went to the Dead Sea, after we went camel riding, next we went to visit the Scrolls of Fire, following we went to Mount Olive, eventually we saw the Gardens, and finally I had my bat mitzvah. What my family did in a mere week, most people do in two. I was still, though, acting like an immature teenager.
Being only 12, I did not appreciate going to Israel like many other people do. As the trip went on, I hid the fact that I actually liked the trip. Everyone hates when their parents prove them wrong, right? Israel is truly a holy, holy place, and it angers me every time I think about how immature I acted. I always remember, though, I will be back whether it's a year from now, or in another decade, I vow to return. Until then, Shalom Israel, but I will see you again. Change the lives of others like you have changed mine.
*My family had a private tour guide, Leon Gork, from Jerusalem Walks. The link can be found here
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