Going through
This week's portion: bloom

Departure and arrival

Departing JFK airport involves standing in a lot of lines. As I stood in my first line I marveled at how many visibly religious Jews were flying Virgin Atlantic to Heathrow! (I guessed that most of them would be joining me on El Al for the second leg of the journey, and I was right.) I saw men wearing everything from secular street clothes to black pinstriped frock coats, colorful knit kippot to black velvet kippot to hats of all sizes, cleanshaven and bearded in every imaginable iteration. Women wearing skirts below the knee, or skirts to the ankle; women with a range of hair coverings, hats and wigs and scarves. And, of course, plenty of people who weren't visibly religious, like me.

Travel is always a good reminder for me of how different we are from one another: our shapes and sizes, our skin tones, our modes of dress, the languages we speak. But as I watched my fellow passengers checking in for my flight, it struck me that travel offers an opportunity to remember how connected we are, too. Even with our differences. There's something universal about the experience of going on a journey.

I arrived at Tel Aviv Yafo airport without incident. Alas, I can't say the same for my suitcase -- about 40 of us on the LHR-TLV leg of the journey were still sans luggage when the carousel stopped moving. That was frustrating, for sure, and there's a part of me that is tempted to continue agonizing about it even now, cataloging the items I packed which I really need and really don't want to replace. But I've been telling myself that this is clearly a sign that God wants me to enter this Israel experience without my "baggage" -- and I'm hoping that if I can keep the emotional baggage in check, perhaps I'll merit the receipt of the physical baggage in the morning.

Thanks to everyone who's expressed concern about my laptop misadventures. The bad news is, my hard drive was completely fried and nothing on it was retrievable. The good news is, the melt-down happened the day before I left (instead of, say, while I was above the ocean) and the drive has been replaced. Now I'm working slowly on restoring my files. I anticipate that it's going to take a while.

My deep thanks are due to the friendly folks at the genius bar at the Apple store in Crossgates Mall. One of the guys told Ethan that they think of themselves as a kind of hospital; people who come in with sick computers tend to be stricken and panicked, and it's the employees' obligation to basically offer not only practical fixes but also pastoral care. They certainly lived up to that in my case. This little box is how I work, think, connect, create, and play; its temporary malfunction felt like a major loss, especially on the cusp of this trip. Thanks for your help, guys -- and especially Ethan, who spent the day before his departure for the Global Voices annual meeting trying every trick in the book to bring my machine back to life.

Of course, there's a ton I hadn't thought to back up. (Isn't there always?) Also, for reasons I don't understand I can neither log in to Flickr/Yahoo nor load iPhoto on this machine, so it may be a while before I can show off photos of my new neighborhood. (It's pretty here; looks basically like this...) Both the computer woes, and the reality that I'm here without my possessions, serve to remind me that as much as I like to be well-prepared, sometimes all I can do is try to meet what arises gracefully, even if I don't have my familiar tools in-hand.

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