Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Aliya Blogging @ 35,000 feet

Just got email that read as follows: I'm watching the live webcast (through the tears in my eyes) and I just saw you in the audience listening to R' Fass! Kol HaKavod for taking part. I look forward to your reports. You look exhausted.

Well, I am exhausted, because I barely had time sleep a wink on the plane. It was simply exhilarating to accompany a plane of our Jewish brothers and sisters on their way home. I had to talk to many of the people and hear what they were thinking. There simply was barely any time to sleep.

I will blog a bit more after I wake up sleep a bit, but here's my first post of a few...

Our Nefesh b'Nefesh charter ELAL plane, "Sederot" has 6 hours and 53 minutes left to land in Israel, yet I must admit, I'm on a high.

Sitting next to me are David Bogner from Treppenwitz, CK from Jewlicious, Robert Avrech from Seraphic Secrets, and R' Gil Student from Hirhurim. Behind me is Frum Satire, and in front is Esther Kustanowitz from "My Urban Kvetch" -- If Aliya is living the dream, then is the dream flight for a pro-Israel JBlogger.

And it gets better. Nefesh B'Nefesh didn't treat us like a bunch of blogger social misfits (that we are?) -- they gave us blogger/press badges, executive lounge WiFi access, business class check-in...and put all the bloggers together as well -- in the business class section of the plane.

The captain's pre-take-off announcment was surprisingly moving; "It is our honor and pleasure to be taking you new olim home, to Eretz Yisrael."


For 2 thousand years, Jews yearned for a land which was mostly inaccessible. The means were not there to live, it was close to impossible to get there, and Eretz Yisrael remained a daily hopeful prayer...but today, we were going home. 240 new olim are on their way back home -- the actualization of the daily prayers of their parents, grandparents and ancestors.


Anyone who has flown on an ELAL flight knows of the strange custom that people clap when they land, applauding the captain and air-crew or the flight. (Personally, I always found that weird...as if they doubted the ability of the captain and crew to get us to our destination?)

On this flight, the clapping and cheering started when the plane took-off.

As cynical and jaded that someone might be after close to 18 years in Israel, I found myself moved by story after story of the olim on the plane. Not content to just speak to the olim I was assigned to interview, I spoke to dozens of people on the flight -- "Mazal tov! Where are you moving to? Where are you from? "

And the answers were astonishing.

"We want to give to Israel, not take from Israel. We want to offer Israel...we are moving to be givers...." said Saul & Elaine Schreiber, new olim moving from Phoenix.

These young and idealistic grandparents are retiring to Israel -- moving to the community of Ra'anana. "We wanted to move while we are in good health so we can contribute to Israel", said Elaine. Their personal resumes are nothing short of breathtaking -- these olim are quality veterans of service to the Jewish community. Saul is a retired Orthopedic surgeon, and Elaine has always been active in service to the Jewish community, and has served in a dizzying number of senior positions for the Jewish Community -- just to name a few; president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, National Board Member of the OU, AMIT, Vice Chair of the UJC -- and the list went on.

(switch to home)

I have so much more to write, but I need to sleep a bit and spend some time with my kids, who by the way, insisted on coming to see their Abba "make aliya" and arrive at Ben Gurion airport for the arrival ceremony. Greeting me was a whole pack of enthusiastic kids and my wife, hoisting a huge "muqata" banner, waving Israeli flags and cheering.

It couldn't have been a better homecoming.

My oldest daughter summed it all up -- "Abba, when I grow up, I want to work for Nefesh B'Nefesh. It was really wonderful seeing all those olim arrive today..."

Living the Dream,


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


YMedad said...

My wife and I, after 6 weeks as a married couple, made Aliyah in 1970 and we were asked - as then there was a choice - "plane or boat?". We took the boat (cheapest honeymoon we could get. Twelve days at sea, stop at Lisbon for a few hours and a whole day in Athens).

In the back of my mind though was if my grandparents came in steerage, then that's how I'm going on Aliyah - 23 years too late for Exodus. There were some 450+ Olim on the Queen Anne Marie.

But, without NBN, since we were the largets ever group of N. American Olim at one shot, we were greeted by journalists galore. So, yes, an event like this is monumentally emotional.

See y'all tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Teenage Boys From Orthodox Brooklyn Families Arrested After Public Drinking, Partying


I have posted a few times about this issue. I am shocked how many people keep saying “Yeah this is nothing new – it’s been going on since forever”. Who are we kidding? This is the THIRD TIME in a week that Frum kids have been ARRESTED upstate. No, in my days in the mountains this did not happen. Maybe there used to be one story during an entire summer and it certainly would have been the talk of the town!

Now it is happening on a daily basis! (Kudos to Hamercaz news for not sweeping it under the rug!)


Akiva said...


SuperRaizy said...

That is so sweet that your wife and kids came to meet you at the airport!
It is nice to hear that your oldest daughter wants to continue the tradition of service to the Jewish people that she is learning from her father.
Kol Hakavod.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, it was a given that when we landed at Ben Gurion everyone would clap and sing Haveinu Shalom Aleichem. My parents explained it was because we wanted to show the crew we appreciated how hard it is to cater to a cramped compartment full of demanding Jews without killing any of us in anger. (I'm paraphrasing but that was the basic gist)

I still make a point of clapping when we land in Ben Gurion (having been on a few other airlines, I can confidently say these guys land the best!) but almost no one else does anymore. Like the rude stewardnesses, this minhag seems to have become a thing of the past.

Benji Lovitt said...

That rules. Must have been an amazing flight.

frumhouse said...

What an amazing experience - for both you and your family who witnessed the return!

Anonymous said...

Raul -

1) Pranking 911 is stupid but it does not represent a "Youth At Risk" problem

2) The other story seems to be more about our "NaNach" problem than our youth problem:

from the Hamercaz article you reference:
The adult, who is a member of the "Na-Nach" style Breslovers, had been hanging out with the boys earlier at a "Kumzitz" at a local park where they had lit a bonfire and sang songs. The adult claimed that he had not supplied the boys with any sort of alcoholic beverage. However, the officers did not believe him, and he was taken into custody.

So I think you're getting a little carried away

s(b.) said...

Thanks so much for sharing.

Special Ed said...

Was the Serugim banner there?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Special Ed: The srugim banner was absolutely there. I assume you can find it on the NbN websites or that of its fans...

Benji: It truly was an amazing flight. See you tomorrow! :)

Raizy: Thanks! I'll let my daughter know.

garnel: The business class section clapped as well ;-)

Anonymous said...

I really think I'm too much of a cynic to be at this conference....

see ya there anyway...

Erachet said...


Anonymous said...

I wish I had been sent on that flight.It sounded amazing. I'm so jealous.

Phyllis Sommer said...

great post. it brought tears to my eyes...

Anonymous said...

Safranit- me too. I'm bringing a hip-flask.

Batya said...

Did they say tfilat haderech on the loudspeaker? I felt it was missing the two nbn flights I accompanied.
f2f this afternoon, G-d willing.

Anonymous said...

wow what a moving post. thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

You did it - I had tears in my eyes reading this post! Hope to meet you this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

hey... i saw your family and their banner -- very cute!

you know, when my family and i made aliya (well, i made aliya, my husband returned), on the first nbn flight, they told us that the goal was to have so many nbn flights that it would be no big deal to have them arrive. i remember thinking after our arrival ceremony (attended , btw, by our mutual friend the high-ranking idf officer who came to meet us) that the arrival of an entire planeload of olim will never be "no big deal." six years later, i am so happy to see that nbn flights are still very much a big deal!

Lady-Light said...

Kol HaKavod, Jameel (and NbN). And Jacob Richman, I'm going to go to your site to see those pictures!

David said...

"Giving to Israel" - It's very heartwarming and encouraging to hear olim say that they want to give to Israel and not take.

They should know that the first step to giving to Israel (as a citizen) is to become integrated. You cannot become integrated without learning Hebrew. And you cannot learn Hebrew if you live in a snobby American ghetto in Israel, which much too many olim recently have been doing.
- David

Anonymous said...


It was good to see you at the airport.
I took 364 pictures and posted them at:

See you at the conference tomorrow.

Unknown said...


I made Aliyah on that flight. It was great meeting you. You explained the whole "Sevah Brachot" thing in a much less cynical way than ck did. But, in any case, I just wanted to say that it is truely amazing moving to Israel. And your blog is rather cute. Can I come out to your settlement?


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