I can’t wait to return

PHOTO: Mitch and Nicole Elovitz at desert extravaganza.

On March 19, 2023, my wife, Nicole, and I embarked on the trip of lifetime. Along with 200 or so other Oregonians, mostly from the Portland area, we made our way to Israel. Twenty or so hours later, we arrived “home.”
Some background on my Jewish upbringing, which I feel is important to this story. I was born in 1965 in Trumbull, Conn. Trumbull is a suburban town in southern Connecticut with enough Jewish people that we would have matzah with our public school lunch during Pesach. I’m the youngest of three. I went to Hebrew School, had my bar mitzvah and attended Hebrew High School. My family would plant a tree each year in Israel through JNF and send money to Israel.
I was very involved in my youth group, United Synagogue Youth, the Conservative Movement’s youth group. That provided my only other experience in Israel; when I was 15, I went on “Pilgrimage,” a six-week immersive tour of Israel. I remember very little about that trip outside of trying to get beer. I also remember spending Shabbat in Tsfat, which is where Lecha Dodi was written. I also remember being in Caesarea, climbing Masada and visiting many museums, including Yad Vashem.
Visiting all these places as an adult is an extremely different experience. My eyes and soul felt wide open. I wanted to soak up as much of this experience as I possibly could, and I didn’t want to take anything for granted or forget anything. I committed to keeping a travel journal.
Our friend Deb Moon asked me if I would be willing to write a personal view about the trip, revisiting my powerful emotions during the reflection session at the end of our trip. We sat in a circle and were asked to reflect on our experiences. It was an incredible eight days. We experienced so much. As I was sitting there listening to others, it struck me that my two older siblings as well as my parents were all in Israel at different times, but we were never there all together as a family, and never would be since they all died years ago. But I felt them with me. I also reflected on how meaningful my time in Israel was with Nicole, my wife of nearly 29 years. Others on the trip dubbed us the “love birds,” because we held hands often during the trip and were often happily together.
I can’t wait to go back with our daughter, Maude, and for a significant amount of time. This trip rekindled my love affair with the beautiful State of Israel, and my only regret is it took me so long to get back to her.

See more stories and photos from Israel at online.anyflip.com/fgcex/tpwy.


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