Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Hopeless Romantic - Jameel's Aliyanniversary*

I'm rushing to complete the draft of my son's bar mitzva speech before midnight, so I can quickly start this post before the clock chimes. I can't believe I almost forgot; I even had my friends blog for me...yet this is such an important date I had to blog it. The words are literally forcing themselves out of my soul onto the screen.

Fifteen years ago, on the evening of January 15, 1991 I was privledged to make aliya. I remember the day as vividly as if it were...well, maybe last year....but its very close to my heart. My ELAL flight was the last flight to land at Ben Gurion airport, prior to a total airport shutdown in nervous anticipation the the United States' ultimatum to Iraq. No one wanted to insure the flight, and the government of Israel took upon itself this financial responsibility. Taking no chances, Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter jets accompanied our flight from past Cyprus all the way to Israel...(I guess they knew Jameel was on the flight)

Touching down, our flight was met by hundreds of enthusiastic yeshiva and seminary students who came to greet us, and dance with us on the runway. This was Jan 15th...most of the "foreign" students were forced back home by their parents...and our flight was meant to repopulate the yeshivot and seminaries (even temporarily) and show the world that in time of crisis, we proudly stood with Israel.

I was even luckier; while everyone on the plane was going to Israel for a week or two, I made aliya on that flight.

Going down the steps onto the runway, I clearly remember bending down to gently touch the caress feel it...the tears of joy streaming down my face.

I danced and danced with my heart and soul soaring through the clouds, overlooking Yerushalayim, the mountains of the Shomron...the Galil and Golan...the deserts of the Negev and Yehuda... We danced with a Sefer Torah, with our rabbanim, with flags with all our heart and soul that Hashem should watch over our Jewish homeland during that time of uncertainty. Time was frozen for an instant and I can still close my eyes and think back to that evening 15 years ago, and my love for Israel has only grown.

Yet the dancing soon came to an end, as nervous Ben Gurion security wanted us out of the airport as quickly as possible; we needed to receive gas-masks, and to disperse so they could close the airport.

My girlfriend met me at the airport that evening...and she is now my wife.

Was this all so long ago?

I need to finish up my son's drasha for his Bar Miztva.

I am full of gratitude to Hashem for the past 15 years I have been blessed to live here. Gratitude for being able to build a wonderful family, for my wife's belief in me that I would succeed, for building a home which matches and exceeds our ideological belief of settling the land -- so that we could fill it with happy children and house guests.

I thank Hashem for my friends near and far, and hope that those not yet here will be able to move to Israel as well.

I am fortunate to be living my dream.

In all sincerity, I say שהחינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה

* Hat-tip to Ask Shifra for the term "Aliyanniversary"

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz I hope yours does as well.


Irina Tsukerman said...

Happy Aliyanna... Aliyahninn... Well, you get what I mean! : )

Chana said...

Beautiful post. It's obvious you feel at home there. Hurrah for the true people, true to themselves and their land. :)

westbankmama said...

Wow! You came right before the Gulf War started. We came two months after it ended - so our aliyanniversary is also coming up soon.

I doubt I can write as touching a post about it though.

JoeSettler said...

Jameel I remember now (that I wasn't at the airport to greet you). My family was visiting for the war (and trying to delay their return flight), so I don't think I was at your airport party. But if you have pictures (like you said), maybe that will jog my memory.

Ezzie said...

Wow... beautiful post. I teared up imagining making aliyah myself. Thanks for reminding me yet again - I think we need these types of reminders every once in a while.

Tova Shulamit said...

I have to admit I am jealous. You are living my dream right now.. Well the living in ISrael part at least..LOL.. What beautiful story and I am priviledged enouh to read it.. Thanks Jameel
TOva aka Tanisha

Lab Rab said...

Mazel tov Jameel. May we all follow your lead one day.

Anonymous said...

i'm teary-eyed.Those that are not here YET don't know hat they are missing.
Mazel tov and lots of nachas.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

All - thanks very much for your special comments.

Though it may have sounded slightly sappy, I meant every word I wrote.

I hope to write more about it post-bar mitzva...

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