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A Long Journey

 I traveled to America last week in order to spend the holiday of Pesach with my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Because of the troubles associated with the Coronavirus, it was very difficult to obtain a plane reservation. However, a number of resourceful people in Israel arranged a charter flight through El Al on behalf of yeshiva students and young women in Israeli seminaries. Since they could no longer stay in their dormitories they were forced to go home. So, I found myself, through the great influence of ‘protectia,’ in a business class seat on that flight.
There were a few hundred young women from the seminaries on the flight as well as some young couples and about a dozen little babies. As you can imagine, the flight was not a silent one.

It took 12 hours, and I really feel that the amount of patience shown by the stewards and stewardesses on El Al was exemplary – with people congregating in the aisles, and since babies are babies. One of the babies, about two and a half years old, a very precocious girl, marched up and down the aisle and refused to sit for most of the trip. However, she was very attracted to me and kept on climbing up on my lamp whether she was invited to do so or not.
Now, the line between children who are annoying and children who are cute is a very thin one. So after a period of time, when things were about to become more annoying, I discovered, when the mother came over to once again retrieve her from my lap, that the child was related to me.

The child is a great grand-niece of mine through the Levine side of the family. Well, once she became a relative, annoying became cute and we had a very pleasant flight, even though she came back numerous times in order to sit on my lap. The flight generally was full of such incidents. Whenever you fly on a plane, you never know who you're going to meet or how that meeting will have an effect upon you.

Because I had my great grand-niece accompanying me, I spent most of the flight reminiscing about my lifetime and my relatives. Since the flight was long, there was plenty of time to do so. I think that it is one of the hallmarks of advanced years that one is always reviewing incidents, people and events, mistakes and triumphs, hopes and fulfillment of plans that occurred during one's lifetime.

Whether or not this is healthy for one's psyche is debatable, but I have spent a great deal of time over the past years looking backwards and reminiscing. Nevertheless, I have many projects that I want to complete and many things that I want to see and events that I want to experience. So, though I plan for the future, the past is omnipresent and always looming in my thoughts.

When I landed in the United States, because of the Coronavirus, I had to undergo a health inspection. They took my temperature, looked me over, asked a few innocuous but, I assume, important questions, and cleared me for entry into the United States. All of this took about two hours. The line was enormous as literally thousands of people had come in during those hours at JFK airport in New York and they were being processed one by one.

Since I was on the plane with the seminary women, you can only imagine the amount of luggage that was coming around the carousel. It took at least an additional half hour for my lonely bag to appear but, thank God, it did appear. Eventually I was able to leave the airport and was brought safely to my daughter’s home here in Woodmere, New York. Here I am in splendid isolation because everything in also shut down. There's no synagogue, no restaurants, just the way it used to be when the native Americans controlled this area of the world.
I am confident that all of this will pass in good time and in good stead just as it will pass in Israel, but the experience really is a chastening one for all of us. It teaches us how puny and insignificant we are and how we are given over to psychological pressures, fears, panic, and how wildly our imaginations can work.

 I want to commend the government for doing whatever it can to prevent the spread of this pandemic and to manage it so that it has emerged more slowly, making dire cases more treatable. And up until this time, thank God, we have done very well in recovering from it, at least physically. The other effects will last undoubtedly for years, but that also will pass. So, let us look forward to a brighter future and to a wonderful Pesach holiday, and I will continue to inform you about conditions here as I check to find out about conditions back in Israel.
Shabbat Shalom


Berel Wein

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