10 September 2007

Way Up In The Sky...

As a new blogger and something of a narcissist, I just know that you’ve been waiting faithfully for my next bee-log post. I’m currently flying over, hmm, let me sound out the Hebrew on the map…it looks like we’re flying (bumpily, I might add) Iz-mir. I am not sure where this is, but from 37,000 feet (11,300 km) it seems to be filled with tiny pockets of air destined to make me irritated (or scared, not that I would admit it. Ever.). The English map translation informs me that we are flying over Turkey, maybe. Thanks, Bilingual Map System!

So I spent a lovely 5 hours at JFK (The CT-NY traffic did not live up to its reputation), checking in for my flight, passing through luggage security, paying for my fat bags (a small price to pay for my shoe selection), going through human and carry-on security and sitting around the terminal. My Zayde wanted me to buy Cherry Kijafa for our cousin in Jerusalem, so I searched the terminal’s disappointing duty-free where there was nary a bottle of the weird liquer to be found. I finally boarded the plane and we took off about an hour late.

El-Al has some plusses and minuses. Here is what I’ve found:

Cons
: Feeling awkward about being female when the dati (religious) boys ask you to switch seats. Feeling more awkward when you refuse to move. Asking constantly to get an English translation from everyone (this will become a pro when I learn to speak Hebrew and don’t have to ask anymore.). The really terrible movie selection.

Pro: All meals are kosher. Hummus is a standard side dish. When the dati boy gets a new seat leaving you with two whole seats to yourself. Learning the word for omelet (cha-vi-ta) from the very nice flight attendants who think I’m cute because I don’t know Hebrew yet. The radio selections are not half bad. Direct flight.

I was sitting in my two seats, shortly after takeoff and a fine meatball dinner (side of hummus and pita), reading a Thane Rosenbaum book my mom had signed for me back in the day. As I read the final vignette of Elijah Visible, I was tickled to discover that the bulk of the story takes place at JFK. In the El-Al terminal (#4). It was uncanny.

After EV, I took out a Cosmo for some light reading. A few of the boys that had asked me to move came and claimed his former seat for his travel suitcase. They were marveling over a CD Walkman and generally abusing the space they’d abandoned. A flight attendant told them to go away, which was nice, because I was about to tell them to go away and get an iPod (they do sell them in the in-flight magazine).

Holding the front of the magazine flat on the little table so as not to shock the dati folk with the “BLENDED ORGASMS! INSIDE!” headlines, I must have looked pretty sad, because a guy came over to me and asked if I wanted to play cards. A new friend! Looking about my dad’s age and of the more dati variety, I was shocked that he was going to sit in the seat next to me. Intrigued, I met my new friend Moshe, father of 5 and grandfather of 1, originally from Chicago. He taught me a card game, and over the game, he told me about his professional life and how he came to live in Israel, and I answered his questions about the Conservative movement (I am an expert?). Turns out, he thought I looked rejected and lonely, and told me not to feel badly that the religious boys wouldn’t sit next to me (I didn’t feel badly...I had two seats for the price of, well, two.).

When it was time for Shacharit (morning prayers), it was 2 AM in New York and 9 AM in Israel. Moshe went to daven (pray) and I attempted to sleep. I woke up with a bevy of people praying in the aisles by my seat. There was a tallit (prayer shawl) bag placed rather unceremoniously right next to my head, but I let it slide because one of the men praying blew the shofar (ram’s horn) to remind us that the New Year is coming this week. That was really awesome.

The plane ride ends with another 2 games with Moshe, a omelet breakfast, my rantings being input into a Word doc for later posting. I land in an hour, and I am torn between not wanting to move my luggage again and wanting to be in my apartment. I wonder what we’re going to eat for dinner?

When I post this, you will know that I am safe and happy in Jerusalem.

1 comment:

Meredith said...

Ismir has had a Jewish community for thousands of years, which still thrives thanks to the help of a JDC fellow every year. And yes, it's in Turkey.