"See you later's" and not "goodbyes"!
We all woke up a little sad knowing it was our last morning in Israel. As we rolled our suitcases to the buses, we could not help but feel a little bittersweet. After a quick breakfast, we met with a member of Shorashim's Team in Israel, who gave us magnets of photos that were posted on Instagram throughout the trip. They were so cool and a great memory for all of us to take home with us from this journey. He also talked to us about our trip and how we can stay involved with Shorashim after we get home.
After he left, we all sat in a big circle and used yarn to create a spider's web of connections amongst us by passing the yarn to someone who had a meaningful impact on us throughout the trip. These passes created a web of connections and it was so special to see how much we had all bonded and connected on this trip to create such an interconnected community. We ended the exercise by each getting a piece of yarn, as a friendship bracelet, tied around our wrist. Many shed tears recalling powerful bonds that had been formed on this trip, but they were happy tears as we talked about how much the people in our mishpacha meant to us.
We then all boarded the bus and headed to Jerusalem for lunch. We grabbed a quick lunch and spent our last shekels on final gifts and snacks.
We then headed to a Jewish National Fund park where we planted Israeli oak trees as a way to leave our mark behind on the land that had grown to mean so much to each of us.
We boarded the bus one last time and did a final count off to make sure we were all present before heading to the airport. When we got to the airport, we said goodbye to Dor, our medic and body guard, as well as Husain, our bus driver. We entered the airport and gathered in a big group circle and chanted "achim! simcha!", or "brothers! joy!" like we did on the first day we had arrived, 11 days earlier.
This time, with tears in our eyes, as we knew the time had come to depart. We said heartful goodbyes to those who decided to extend their trips as well as to our Israeli participants and our guides. We promised it was a "see you later" instead of a "goodbye".
After finally making it through security, we all waited to board our plane. As we boarded the plane and sat in our seats, we all reflected on the beautiful experience we had just shared. We had spent 11 days and 10 nights with strangers who had become best friends, in new lands learning so many new things about ourselves and our heritage, and experiencing more than any one of us had ever hoped or dreamed. As we sat in our seats and prepared for take off, we shut our tired eyes and smiled - dreaming of what had just happened and what was to come with our new experiences and memories guiding the way.