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I’ve gone so many times in the past, on so many different kinds of trips, but these words are different now. Miraculous.

Our daughter, Hindy, is in a one-year seminary program, her gap year, in Jerusalem. We’ve always gone to visit our kids when they spent their year in Israel, and we figured Hindy’s year would be no exception. Except, COVID-19. Man plans and God laughs. Or cries, maybe.

Since I am a trip leader for Momentum, an incredible organization that takes Jewish moms to Israel and does so much more, I’ve been privileged to get to Israel at least once a year since 2009. My last trip was December 2019 on a Jewish Family Experience family mission that celebrated our son’s bar mitzvah and other b’nei mitzvah in our community. Little did we know what was headed our way a few short months later.

And then the borders closed, and the airports closed, and we all know the rest of the story.

Would Hindy even be able to go to Israel? Would she be able to have a normal year? When could we go next? Would we be allowed to go to the Kotel and other holy sites? Wondering was pointless. Things changed week to week, sometimes day to day.

The Nov. 1 trip was scheduled by Momentum months ago. Women signed up from all over the United States. Then people canceled. Two trips were consolidated to one. Would I even be needed on a trip that might not happen? Would we be required to quarantine for a week? The whole trip was only one week long.

The September holiday marathon ended. It was the beginning of October, a month before the trip. I’d need to have my vaccine in good standing within six months, or get a booster shot at least one week before my trip. I checked my vaccination card. Oct. 16 was the last day of the six months. I had one week to get my booster. Momentum was busily organizing all our documents for entry and minimal quarantine.

I got ticketed. I got a booster (and a flu shot while I was at it). I booked an Airbnb. It looks like the trip is really happening. I’m starting to get excited.

The Talmud states the Land of Israel is acquired only through suffering. I think we can all see that history has borne this out, but it’s been exquisitely true now – when even traveling there is a rare privilege, and totally off the table for most of us. The dearth of opportunities has made this privilege even sweeter and more dear than ever. I’ve always said I would never take my frequent trips to Israel for granted, but now it’s impossible to. I miss it so much. I can’t wait to walk her streets, sample her foods, pray in her charged spiritual air. Israel is a long-lost friend whom, over COVID-19, I have been unable to visit in person, so we’ve made do with FaceTime and texting, but we all know that there is simply no substitute for the real thing. Me and her. Reunited at last. In the same place.

The way it’s supposed to be.

Connect with Ruchi Koval on Facebook at ruchi.koval and on Instagram @ruchi.koval.

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