Tag Archives: travel

A Passport- a gateway and a journey

I just received my new passport. The old one was expiring and I dutifully followed the instructions, got a new picture, completed the DS-82 form, mailed it and in the mail was the new passport. But I miss the old one.

I got the old one as I prepared to enter a new phase of my life, leaving a 30-year career in business to become a rabbi. Looking back, it has been a fascinating decade chronicled by this small blue book. Stamps representing my trips to and from Israel as a rabbinical student, my trips through the Former Soviet Union celebrating Pesach in Moscow and cities in Siberia, my honeymoon in Italy with Naomi as a newlywed, the trips to Israel as a rabbi, and a wedding in the Dominican Republic, were all documented by this small blue book with worn edges. Each page is a reminder of a very special experience.

I remember the process of obtaining it, completing other forms and taking other pictures that showed a younger version of me with more hair on top of my head and less gray on the face. The book was empty and new. It was literally and figuratively my passport to my future. Each of those stamps represented an amazing journey. Each was memorialized in that precious little book that I scrupulously guarded but whose inside page I copied just in case my best-laid plans to protect it was subverted.

Extraordinary memories of extraordinary experiences are evidenced in my old passport. It serves as a reminder that we continue to grow and each passing day is another page in our life journey. I reflect back on them and see something I learned and perhaps can share with others. My life is enriched and so too is my capacity to teach.

So now I have the new passport. The picture inside is of an older, current version of me. The pages are clean and new. I can only wonder about the adventures and how those pages might be filled over the next decade. The fresh pages beckon with anticipation and promise. I can only hope that when it is time to replace this contemporary passport, it too will worn and maybe tattered, filled with visas and stamps of exciting travels evoking meaningful memories declaring that my continuing life journey remains a rich experience of growth and sharing.

Every Leaving Always Late

Modesty and a seat too far

seating chart The current seating spat aboard El Al planes reminds me of seating elsewhere in the Jewish world. When planning the wedding, the seating chart seems to rank as important as the Chuppah. Aunt Sophie wont sit with Uncle Benny who would be upset if he didn’t sit next to cousin Terri who is rooming with Sophie’s daughter. The brouhaha about certain men refusing to travel next to a female other than his wife on a plane seems easy enough to overcome long before there is a confrontation on the airplane. This on board argument helps reinforce the old expression that EL AL was an acronym for “Every Leaving Always Late” and is an unfortunate commentary on our ability to get along.

 This is an issue for the men in question, not the rest of the passengers. The easiest solution is for men who have this need to be required to buy the seat(s) adjacent, if other El_Al_Boeing_777-200such observant men do not also book seats. Preflight booking can ask if this seating issue exists. If the yes box is checked, then a new level of scrutiny is developed. If the box is not checked, there is not consideration. The seating chart can be developed using computer algorithms. Alternatively, sections can be set aside for the observant. If seats are not available, the section can be expanded or the plane listed as sold-out for that section.  Maybe business class could be reserved for all women who find they are bearing the brunt of this bad treatment. Maybe we do a first come first served approach. The balagan that is the El Al boarding process would look much the same as it does now.

 There seem to be a multiplicity of solutions available long before boarding takes place. For a land touted as among the technology centers, this problem seems far from daunting.  To create an argument on the plane or make some passengers feel unwelcome seems to be the worst possible alternative.  My guess if that if the airline were held accountable, a workable solution would be quickly found. Maybe the pending lawsuit is the needed catalyst.

Nisiyah Tovah!