Homecoming in Israel

by Diana Bloom, Head Counselor

The last Shabbat morning of Second Session we had an Israel-themed service filled with readings from Israelis and Americans alike who have been touched in one way or another by the Jewish homeland. Below is a reading that Diana Bloom, our Head Counselor, shared with the whole camp about her relationship with Israel:

diana israel

L to R: Tal Finz, Hanoch Greenberg, and Diana Bloom at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem

When I go to Israel, it is not a vacation, it is a homecoming.

When I arrive, I am not a tourist, I am a guest and a witness.

It had been many years since I lived  in Israel on Kibbutz Nir David as a young woman, and despite many attempts to convince my husband Aaron to travel to Israel, it was only because of his relationship with the Israelis here at Camp Coleman that he had a desire to finally go.

In the summer of 2011 while visiting here at camp he decide that he wanted to go to Israel for his 40th birthday.

Spending time with Hanoch and  many of the other Israeli staff here at camp made Israel real for him.

When we arrived, Hanoch met us at the airport. You are not a tourist when your friend meets you, missing wallet and all, at the airport and gives you a welcoming hug.

You are not a tourist when friends take time away from their studies to spend a few days with you in Jerusalem.

You are not a tourist when you spend an afternoon looking for your great grandparents graves at Mt. Olive.  Notice I said looking and not finding. Hanoch said he knew where they were…

and in getting lost in the looking Hanoch saw parts of Jerusalem he had never seen before. Who was the tourist then?

Hanoch, Tal Finz (who many of you might remember),  Aaron and I walked through the Old City (me with my tourbook). Hanoch and Tal teased me about the book, but I brought him to a roof top over the Old City he had never seen before and shared details from my guide book he had never noticed.

Sometimes when you go to Israel, you can be the guide.

You are not a tourist when you take a bus to Tel Aviv with Hanoch for the night to meet your mishlachat friends from previous years for dinner. When Hanoch goes to Tel Aviv with you, you know he really loves you.

You are not a tourist when you walk with friends through Yad Vashem  and Mt. Herzl and your friends tell you about the various military ceremonies they have witnessed and participated in there.

You are not a tourist when you go to Rosh Hanikra on your birthday and meet up with a member of the Israeli delegation from 1996 and he has a birthday present for you in hand.

When my children were born and Aaron and I were choosing their names, it was important to me that they had names that would fit in if they chose to make Aliyah. When my children introduce themselves to an Israeli, they are often asked if they are Israeli because of their names, and I think to myself, not yet, but maybe.  Gil takes great pride in the fact that his middle name is Israel. At the beginning of the summer, Omer asked me if I was Israeli and I said, no but thank you so much for the compliment.

Despite the fact that my family is from Argentina and the kids have been there a couple of times, if you ask them where in the world they would go if they could go anywhere, the answer is consistently, without fail, since they could talk, Israel.

They have been lucky enough to have a taste of Israel here, with Israeli counselors and specialists over the years, all of whom ask, when will we bring Eliana and Gil to Israel.  Hanoch has been applying the pressure on Aaron and I hope that next year I can stand here and share with you all about our most recent family trip.

When you work at Coleman and you go to Israel, you are not a tourist, you are a guest.

When you work at Coleman and you go to Israel, it is not a vacation, it is a homecoming.

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