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Destination Israel

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There are a few obvious things that can truly change a person’s life: marriage, divorce, and the birth of a child. Those are the big three, but for me, it was a vacation that changed my life.

In the summer of 2009 I was given the opportunity to travel to Israel. My initial reaction to the proposed trip was simple: no way. What would be the point of me going to Israel? My thoughts were that only religious people “vacation” in Israel.

But after giving the trip more thought I decided to take a chance and go. At the time I had no idea the significance of changing my mind would have in my life and prepared to embark on my first international trip.

Preparation was simple; bring shorts and t-shirts with comfortable walking shoes. Needless to say, I went two for three on the packing. Shorts-check, T-shirts-check, shoes-half check. Somehow only one of my shoes ended up in my luggage, so the first order of business after landing in Tel Aviv was to find a shoe store. My first international experience began with me bargaining for a pair of shoes in a market with an old shop owner, and to this day I think I could have driven the price lower—I overpaid.

Over the course of ten days, I got to see some amazing sites like the Temple Mount, Garden of Gethsemane, and the Dead Sea. I have never taken so many photos in my life, but as great as these sites were they are not what stood out from the trip. I have pictures to remember the physical things, but ruins and seas can’t teach you things and challenge your point of view.

What I will always remember from Israel are the people and the connections that I made with the people in the travel group and with the locals. Our tour guide, Abraham, said something that I can honestly say I will never forget. I was asking him how long he had been a tour guide, to which he responded 19 years, and then I asked why.

His response was priceless: “Wesley, 19 years ago I came to the realization that I was not going to be the richest man in the graveyard. So I might as well be doing something I enjoy.”

Abraham’s philosophy of life is something to be admired. Almost every week he gets to share his story and listen to other people’s stories while he shows them his homeland. It is a job he takes much pride in and as a result enjoys the experience. Abraham’s attitude had me looking at things differently when I got back to the states: I shouldn’t be afraid to follow my dreams and invest myself in things I enjoy, regardless of what others may think.

Leaving Israel left me feeling grateful in so many different ways. I saw unbelievable poverty in the countryside and teenagers serving in the military, kids who had just finished high school. When I drink a bottle of water I now think of the rural inhabitants who get their water from a well, and next time I feel tired in class I remember the high school graduates who don’t have the opportunity of college until they serve their country. Israelis consider it a way of life.

My trip to Israel was life-changing, and I do not exaggerate that sentiment. I got to see some of the most amazing sites in the world, but the people are what made the trip memorable. The joy and desire of Abraham coupled with my newfound gratefulness made Israel a trip that changed my perspective on life.

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About WesJackson

  • Ruvy

    Wes, I see that your article only generated trash filled with lies for a comment. A pity. Let me try to rectify that for you. This article deserves better.

    Avraham’s attitude is mine also. I’m not going to be the richest guy in the graveyard, so I do what is meaningful to me. That has been the attitude that brought lots of us home from exile.

    Life is intense here, and it has the greater option for meaning than lands like America or Canada. So, meaning in life is something a lot more of us seek here, and we are as not distracted by consumer goods, shopping malls or the airheads who seem to inhabit them, or the empty bullshit that pretends to be “culture” here.

    So, in this country, you see lots of Avrahams who do what they enjoy, and what is meaningful. And we are here to stay, grateful to have had the opportunity to have either made history – or to have been close to those who do.

  • Esther Haman

    The rogue Zionists apartheid entity will be changed. Because she has enjoyed her nuclear umbrella for over 40 years and has committed many atrocities against humanity, such as the one reported by the UN in the “Goldstone” report, things will change. During the last 50 years the world stood around while the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes and farm lands and were deported from their place of birth. Currently over 5 million of the Palestinians live over seas away from their homes in tent cities. This is the problem of the Middle east and should be addressed or nothing will be resolved. That will be reversed soon.

    The Colonial powers and the Zionist who carved out that area and sent in their refugees after the WWII need to set things right once and for all or this conflict will have more and bigger consequences for them in the future. These refugees have to be sent back to Europe, where they came from . The balance of power will not stay as is and it will shift as the history shows and these issues will be resolved one way or another. The time to disarm the Zionist entity is now and the time to come up with a peaceful solution is today.