Twice a year, I go to Israel to see my children and grandchildren who live there. This post was written in Israel. One thing about being a BT is that you never have to let yourself get jaded. You can always recall what brought you on the BT journey, and being in Israel can supercharge the BT batteries.
This is where our forefathers and foremothers lived, this is where the Torah came to life, this is the land Hashem promised to us. People my age remember when Jews could not pray at the Wall. (But many BTs my age, including me, had not yet developed their Jewish consciousness enough to realize how holy and miraculous it was when, in 1967, the Wall once again was in Jewish hands.)
I’m one of those people who gets stressed out by the hassles of traveling. But there’s something different about traveling to Israel. And being a BT, I think, enables a person to take to heart the Torah lessons one has learned and put them into practice. Before I set out on this trip, I did a search for the word “travel” on one of the well-known BT Web sites. I came up with the lesson about the Mishkan, how when the Jews traveled they were not really traveling in an ordinary way, but more like a baby secure in its mother’s arms. No matter where the mother travels, the baby doesn’t feel like it is traveling because it is with its mother – that is the baby’s “place” so to speak. This was an enormously calming thought for me to have, that I was secure with Hashem, and I would try to trust in Him throughout all the traveling. I can’t say it works for me 100% of the time, but this is an example of bringing Torah into one’s life, and I think that it’s easier for a BT to do that.
Being in Israel can be so moving. The beauty of the land is not just physical, but enormously spiritual. As a BT, I can feel the aura of holiness here. It’s just a matter of tuning in to one’s Jewish antenna and using the special sensitivity a BT has, the soul which sparked and came alive at the beginning of the BT journey.
Of course, celebrating a Simcha with family and seeing new grandchildren is beautiful anywhere in the world, but it is so utterly beautiful here in Israel.
I think that part of a BT’s special gift is that we don’t take things for granted. We’ve had to climb that mountain on our own, but we’ve strengthened our spiritual muscles by doing so. As such, we can deeply enjoy the wonders and the miracles Hashem does for us. We can do this wherever we are in the world, even if we don’t have a chance to be in Israel, because we are the baby secure in its mother’s arms wherever she is, and we are with Hashem always, basking in His radiance and His protection.