IT has been a tough 20 months for our community.
The pandemic has affected all facets of our lives.
Families have spent extended time apart. Yom tovs have been spent alone. Simchas have been delayed.
Thankfully with vaccination rates exceeding 80 per cent in NSW and approaching that number in Victoria, families are reuniting, we are back in shule and our community can celebrate together again.
It’s been a long road, but from next week, subject to conditions we can also look forward to overseas travel and catching up with family and friends in Israel.
How wonderful will it be to see siblings, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren reunite, some even meeting new family members for the first time?
To walk the cobblestone streets of the Old City of Jerusalem once again and gaze upon the Kotel, to float in the Dead Sea, or to laze on the beach and hit the clubs in Tel Aviv?
For our children, the reopening of travel to Israel means the resumption of watershed experiences they will remember for the rest of their lives; from year 10 school study programs to post-school gap year programs, volunteering and kibbutz programs, Birthright and more.
These experiences will help to shape the identity of our youth as they transform into adults and take ownership of our community in the years to come.
For our charity organisations that raise money for Israel, being able to once again take donors to actually see the fruits of their generosity – projects on the ground that are making a difference in people’s lives – is invaluable.
And for our political advocacy groups who work tirelessly to ensure public debate about Israel is informed and balanced, they will be able to resume showing politicians, journalists and other key thought leaders the “warts and all” reality of life on the ground in the Jewish state, including its precarious security situation and all the complexities of the Israeli/Palestinian issue.
Prior to the pandemic, perhaps we took all of this for granted.
Now we can be grateful that with the opening of borders, all these connections can be restored.
Bon voyage … or rather nesiah tovah!