It is absolutely amazing that here Rick and I are in Tel Aviv! I had been nervous about what I'd find, worried that it would be so different from what I remember. It certainly is that, but it smells like Israel (a combo of falafel and diesel) and amidst the new modern buildings are those classics from the 1930s.
The last time I flew into Ben Gurion Airport it was similar in size to Tucson's airport.. now it is large and sleek.
The cab driver drove like a maniac, solidifying that I was back in Israel. And whereas in other countries where when we try to speak the language the locals bend over backwards to help us as they are so thrilled that we make the effort, here the cab drivers reaction to my attempts was "Nu, at mideberet evrit o lo?" - "Do you speak Hebrew or not?" Ha, so much for that enthusiastic reply! I won't be deterred though.. I'm determined to speak as much as I can.
Although very foggy we did take a long walk along the waterfront and looped along Dizengoff passing by Ben Gurion's home. Such a lark to see mezuzuot on all the doors (including on every door way of the Sheraton) and Pesach plates and Jewish stars offered for sale in shops on every block.
Personally my hope for our trip is that Rick is able to be introduced to this amazing country and history and that I connect with the new Israel while reliving some of my year here. Professionally, I have a huge agenda.. get acquainted with Tucson's sister cities- Hof Ashkelon and Kiryat Malachi; meet with representatives of current, previous and potential grantees; get to know all of the wonderful participants on the Tucson Federation Mission; meet new people and identify like minded spirits at the JFNA's General Assembly; and to come back a little better educated for our Grants program area for Israel and Global Jewry.
Not sure how much time I'll have to write, but blogging is a great way to share and remember.
Tracy Salkowitz is a Consultant,activist and the former CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.