I am very excited to be back in Israel, for my sixth Israel Ride. After five prior rides, much of this year's route is familiar territory to me. Still, I know that this year's ride will be a unique experience. I am looking forward to it with excitement and, yes, some anxiety.
One observation, from my landing in Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon. I travel a lot, probably too much. This week, for example, is the fourth time in the past five weeks that I've traveled 5,000 miles or more. That adds up to way too much time on airplanes. One thing you notice is the indifference of travelers -- we "deal with it". Rarely is a flight accompanied by any particular excitement or curiosity. But, even for experienced travelers and repeat visitors, Israel is different. That first becomes clear at the plane enters Israeli airspace. Window shades are opened, and even the passengers sitting in the middle of the plane, 5 - 6 seats from the window, are aware, watching, and smiling as we pass over the beaches south of Tel Aviv and begin our final descent. This is no routine landing, this is a landing in the land of Israel...you can feel the excitement. Minutes later, as we touched down at Ben Gurion Airport, the passengers greeted the landing, and their trip to Israel, with applause.
I guess we're not in Kansas anymore :-).
I'm looking forward to this year's ride, seeing old friends, and making new ones. And, seeing some of my family here in Israel as well. It was great, Sunday evening, to see my step sister, Arlene, and her husband, Ami. Arlene share a greeting from my nephew, Guy, "welcome home". I have to agree!
It is great to be here, and my thanks again to the friends and family whose generosity, patience, encouragement, and support makes it possible for me to lead Team JNF, do the ride, and generously support the Arava Institute and Hazon. Thank you!!