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Getting to Israel is About More Than Just the Destination

Getting to Israel is About More Than Just the Destination

Just this morning, I boarded an Amtrak train, something I do with a fair amount of regularity. The large, man-made machine sped along, moving me laterally toward my intended destination.

I disembarked the Amtrak train and hauled my luggage to an elevator, another feat of engineering that many of us ride without a second thought. The metal box sprung into action, vertically lifting me up toward another destination.

My feet carried me along, then an escalator methodically brought me back downstairs, only to board another train, another escalator, and another set of stairs. Up, down, across.

Eventually I made my way to an airplane, and I’m now arcing my way across the Atlantic. Israel is my destination.

Or is it?

It’s certainly where I’ve set out to arrive, and I’ve utilized many of the conveniences that humans have built in order to carry other humans from place to place. From location to location. From destination to destination.

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times. It’s the journey, not the destination. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. But what does that mean? How do we bring these clichés past rhetoric and into action?

Humans.

People.

Stories.

I took my seat on this flight. A window seat. I could have put headphones on immediately, kept using my phone, started an in-flight movie. I could have used the other manufactured forms of entertainment, options introduced to the world by undoubtedly smart people.

But I spoke to the people. Not the person who invented the train, the escalator, the elevator, or the plane. But people who are contributing to society in their own ways, with just as much value. In my row are two older gentlemen.

One is an active, organizationally employed member of the Baha’i faith, headed to work for a few weeks at their headquarters in Haifa from his home outside Washington, D.C. He’s the face, the human, behind the beautiful gardens, behind the peaceful community. He’s a human that’s making it happen.

The other is on a mission trip with his church from North Carolina. Despite being well into his 60s, he proudly announced in a heavy southern drawl that this was, in fact, the first time he’s ever been on an airplane. As I walked him through what to expect, his eyes lit up. While the jaded travelers among us (admittedly, myself initially included) shut the window shades and settled into the long flight, this man was giddy with excitement to see, for the first time, what the world looks like from above.

So how do we make the most of the journey? How do we leave ourselves open to organic destination? Ones we may not have considered? We ask the questions. We make the most of the moments. It doesn’t require additional time, money, or resources. Each and every day we spend idle time in close proximity to humans; how can we use that to learn? To give others the chance to add value to our lives?

We look beyond the machines; the cars, the elevators, the trains, the physical objects bringing us to a geographic location. In a few hours I’ll land in Israel. My physical destination will have arrived. But my mind, the influence that these gentlemen have had on my trajectory, is just beginning to process and maximize this part of the trip.

Alexa Broida is the director of URJ Mitzvah Corps, a social justice travel program for Jewish teens with locations around the world.

Alexa Broida
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