I'm leavin on a jet plane, Don't know when I'll be back again. John Denver, Leaving on a Jet Plane.
On my last full day in America, Sunday July 5, I had only one goal: to find that elusive pair of killer shades that would already confirm my IDF bona fides. Ever since having PRK laser surgery two years ago, shielding my eyes from the sun has taken on greater medical significance. So there were any number of reasons to celebrate when with the help of a friend, a flashy and polarized pair of Oakleys became my own. Israel, here’s looking at ya!
Monday July 6 is D-Day. My brother and sister-in-law join me on the train to the airport. Besides saving a bucket-load of cash, taking the New York subway to JFK Airport gives me a chance to savor the country I am leaving in a few hours. At the airport Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization aiding in my aliyah, is out in force. A friend of mine working for the aliyah organization gives me my paperwork and in less than ten minutes I have my boarding pass and am munching on strawberries alongside a brief send-off ceremony.
Downstairs awaits security, the last chance to say farewell to my brother and his wife. We take a photo outside a bar serving that most patriotic of beers, Samuel Adams. Then I take a picture with two American soldiers standing by security. “Godspeed,” says the Hispanic lady soldier, when I explain I am preparing to enlist for two years in the Israeli army.
Finally it is time to say goodbye. As my brother cries on my back and whispers how proud he is of me, I realize the next time I may see him will be in at least nine months, at which point I will already have completed the basic training for an Israeli combat soldier. With his marriage a week old and my aliyah a flight away from completion, we have both crossed a threshold of great promise and dynamic uncertainty.
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