A few weeks ago I departed on a 10 day organized trip to Israel with 39 other Jewish young adults. The thought of traveling without my family or friends for the first time was daunting, while at the same time extremely liberating. It was an opportunity for me to develop a deeper connection with my Jewish roots, and challenge me to go on an adventure so far outside my comfort zone. I was also somewhat optimistic to connect with a nice Jewish boy to bring home to mom and dad. ;)
The first day or two of the trip was extremely exhausting; especially finding it difficult with the time zone change and lack of sleep. We were all running on adrenaline to get through the action packed days.
By day 3 or 4 – I unfortunately had to write the majority of guys off my list, as they were either in a serious relationship or had already hooked up with two or three girls. From the short remaining list – there was one in particular that I was really into. We sparked up conversation here and there, and it sounded like we had things in common. However, he seemed a bit more reserved and shy so I mainly stuck to hanging out with the girls I connected with.
On day 5 – we had a group of Israeli soldiers in the IDF join us for the remainder of our trip. Most of them were close to the end of their mandatory service period and were given the opportunity to travel their country with our group. As we shook hands with all of them, I was surprised to see that one of the soldiers looked a lot like my ex-boyfriend, so of course… he immediately caught my attention.
The following day we all had a long bus ride to the Judean desert. We arrived and got settled into the Bedouin tents. I still had to pinch myself, thinking how unbelievable it was that I was actually in the middle of a desert! When the sun went down we all went star gazing, which was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had in my life. While walking back, the IDF soldier I had been eyeing approached me, and we struck up a conversation. When we arrived at the tents, there was a bonfire going and he asked if I wanted to join him. I had butterflies gathering in my stomach, and happily accepted his invitation.
Over the next few hours – we continued chatting by the fire and it truly felt like there was no one else around us. I was so interested to learn about his life, and in return he seemed to want to absorb every little detail about mine. He was so open to telling me about his position in the Israeli Navy – specifically the submarine unit. Considering his first language was Hebrew, I was pleasantly surprised that there was hardly a language barrier. Hearing all the IDF soldiers share their stories around the camp fire made me gain such a deep appreciation for what they do to defend their country.
Over the days that followed we continued to get to know one another. We had a magical evening in Jerusalem where a replica of the Eiffel Tower was the backdrop to our first kiss.
We walked around the markets where he bought me an army beret to remember him. Afterwards, we met up with the rest of the group and went to a nearby club. It was overwhelmingly jam packed – but once we ordered drinks and found a spot to dance – all of us had the most incredible time. My soldier and I were grinding against one another in the middle of the dance floor, and somehow or another we ended up dancing on top of the tables with the rest of our group. Meanwhile I saw the other guy I liked in the corner of my eye – and he seemed to be getting closer with another girl on my trip. One might I add that was the polar opposite of me personality wise, and was surprised he would be interested in her. It was a little frustrating knowing that he might of been a better long-term match – but my mind was focused on living in the moment with my soldier.
We all got back to our hotel at around 1:30AM. I didn’t want the night to end with him so he kicked his two roommates out for a while. He shut the door and played some Israeli music. We shared a beautiful night together – one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
The time arrived when we had to say goodbye to all the soldiers – which was hard for me. Luckily, being the sweet and incredible guy my soldier was – he promised to come by the airport to see me one last time.
True to his word – there he was, waiting while my group checked in our luggage at 3AM. Once he finished hugging the rest of my group goodbye, he came to me and in the little time we had left together, we shared one last passionate kiss.
Upon my return home – we were still writing to each other quite frequently. Maybe once every day for the first few days. After a week, conversation started slowing down. Although he has plans to come visit here in a few months once finished with the army, I know that I just can’t do long distance.
Overall – the trip was eye opening, inspiring and an absolutely incredible adventure. Hoping there will be more exciting adventures to share soon.