Crumbling buildings.


Suicide bombers.

This, of course, is what I think about when I think of Israel. My homeland by virtue of my Jewish heritage. I’ve never been before. But I’m going. In a week. With my family. At least some of them.

Two of my brother’s kids, my niece and nephew, are celebrating their B’nai Mitzvah in Jerusalem. So we’re heading over there en masse. Me and my two kids. My parents. Both divorced and remarried so there are four of them. My brother, my sister-in-law, their three kids and my sister-in-law’s mom.

My brother has meticulously and lovingly planned this trip. He’s been working on it for months. The itinerary looks amazing. Educational, emotional, bonding, interesting and just plain fun.

And I have no doubt that it will be the trip of a lifetime. The kids with their cousins. Me with my brother and his like-my-sister wife. And yes, all of my parents.

But still, I have some mixed feelings about going.

I’m not that attached to my Judaism. I mean, it’s a part of who I am but I’m not a practicing Jew. I was raised reform, got bat mitzvahed but didn’t follow through with my confirmation because it interfered with my softball games. My kids are being raised Catholic, the religion of my ex-husband. (For a little background, read Jew In The Second Pew.)

My husband isn’t coming along with us. For a variety of reasons. And I have misgivings about traveling abroad, to this place, without him. We don’t spend much time away from each other. And definitely are never so far away from each other. That might sound a little pathetic but so be it. He’s my love.

I have some fears, rational and irrational, about traveling to Israel. Strife, tension, turmoil. All are a part of what’s going on there. My son shares some of these fears. He’s 15. He reads the newspaper and is up on current events. So I have to go in the other direction with this and reassure him that, yes, it is safe for us to travel there. We wouldn’t all be going if there were any danger. (Right, Mommy?)

But it’s not about me.

It’s about my niece and nephew, who I love, love, love dearly. Sharing this celebration together. Being proud of them as they complete this rite of passage, like their father and I did.

It’s about my kids and them having this experience with their cousins. The four older kids are best friends. They really cherish their time together and, since we live on opposite coasts, they don’t get a lot of it.It’s also about my kids making this connection with their Judaism. The type of strong connection that I haven’t given them. There’s no Jewish guilt here. I’m okay with it. I’m just being honest.

And it’s about my kids spending time with four of their six grandparents. My kids are lucky that all of their grandparents are alive and well. And to travel like this, with them, will be priceless.

So we leave in a week.

I’m going to be a little stressed over the next seven days. Figuring out what to wear, maybe doing a little shopping and then packing. Trying to get in some quality time with my husband. Making sure everything is in order here before I go.

But then, we’ll be there. Sharing the experience. Laughing, crying, growing closer.

I’ll be sure and tell you all about it.