2016-04-28

Three unforgettable first time in life experiences during this Passover vacation

During this Passover vacation I had three unforgettable first time in life experiences. Even one such event is something that doesn't happen every Monday and Thursday, so experiencing three such events in one single week is a rarity, especially if all of them concern myself, though two of them indirectly.

The first first time in life experience during this vacation was witnessing the cultimanition of a process called aliya, or immigration to Israel, of someone very close to me. I had the privilege of accompanying this whole process, sometimes by giving advice from my own experience of making aliya. The first stage in the process was the most difficult one in retrospect - to find all the necessary official documents testifying her Jewishness in a country whose former regime tried to eradicate or at least oblitarate Jewishness. But after a long labor that didn't seem to come to its end she succeeded to prove her Jewishness. The second stage - to apply for an immigrant visa at the embassy of Israel in the capital of that country - was far simpler and quicker than she had feared. And the third and last one - to actually come to and enter Israel as a new immigrant was even simpler and quicker, including the bureaucratic procedure at Ben-Gurion Airport.

It was so symbolic that she made aliya one day before the start of the Passover, that is, this aliya was a kind of Exodus for her. It was even more symbolic that the first seder she attended (together with me) for the first time after her aliya was also her first seder in her entire life! Even more touching was the fact that her mother, who made a one-week visit here during this Passover, joined us and celebrated seder for the first time in her life, too! I don't know how they felt during and after their first seder in life, but when I look back and think about my first experience in 1989, I'm sure there will come a day years later when they also look back and remember this first time in life experience of theirs as their precious experience.

And the third event directly concerned me (and still keeps exciting me). I never believed I would ever experience this in this reincarnation of mine. It's a kind of rite of passage leading to another, more important, rite of passage, both of which require a collaborator, so to speak. Especially because it was done in a traditional Jewish, or to be more precise, Ashkenazi, manner and also joined by my closest frum Jewish friends as well as my two Jewish spiritual mentors, I felt and still feel for the first time that the collective Jewish past has become a full-fledged part of my individual Jewish present.