Monday, June 23 - The Flight

The calm before the . . . insanity. Now that we have done this before, spent the night in Los Angeles on our way to Israel for the summer, we have traditions. Wake up in the morning and head over to IHOP for breakfast, but traditions only go so far. Last summer’s egg white omelet became this summer’s blueberry pancakes. No disrespect to egg whites, but given the choice, who would choose against the pancakes!

With all of the talk about changes in airlines this year (my in-laws were charged for sodas on their flight back from Atlanta the day before) we were nervous about food for the kids and us (notice I avoided any hungry pregnant woman jokes). Well, it didn’t seem so feasible to carry on Chinese food, but did you know there is a Kosher Subway sandwich place in LA? Crazy. Only in LA. But yep, Kosher Subway sandwiches!

So after a delicious breakfast, loaded the car, and swung by Subway on the way to the airport! I must admit, there is a certain, delicious, irony to carryout as carry-on!

The airport seemed much easier – not as many pieces of luggage and the kids were great. Once again, either due to cute kids or a certain sympathy for a pregnant woman with three little kids, El Al did not require us to stand in long lines. In fact, twice, sympathetic agents pulled us out of whatever line we were standing in and took us to the front of a new line, seemingly created just for us.

The only downside, in one of these balaganim (crazy moments) we managed to lose our computer printed boarding passes. Oh well, somehow they still let us on the plane. But this was not the craziest part of all . . .

If you remember from last year, we managed to bump into a number of people we knew on our flight. This year tops it – by a lot.

So we are walking into LAX, heading for El Al check in, and the family right in front of us is Shayna’s classmate and friend from Hebrew Day – Nicole. Turns out Nicole, her sister, brother and mother, are headed to Israel for the summer – on our flight. So we check our seat assignments, and they are in the row in front of us!

This is the sense of Mazal and Besheirt one wants when beginning a 14 hour plane ride! Did I mention that Nicole has a younger brother Nadiv’s age!

So all in all, for the second year running, tfu tfu tfu, the flight wasn’t the bad. In fact, it is inexplicable but I think the long flights with the family have been easier, at least passed more quickly, than my back in forth last January. Yep, inexplicable, but with that much going on, fourteen hours cramped into a very small space, without a lot to do, can be quite entertaining, engaging and distracting.

Shayna played with Nicole. Nadiv played with Ben (Nicole’s brother). Maital wanted nothing to do with me once she got tired, so she and Jen played and napped together, and I was in the support position, making sure everybody had their snacks, their water, their pillows, their headphones, and whatever else they wanted.

In the meantime, I caught up on some movies I had missed.

Overall, I thought the Bucket List wasn’t as outstanding as I had hoped, and the action flicks were like every other action movie – so much so I can’t remember their names!

We also befriended a very nice lady from Northern California, travelling to Israel with her three teenage kids and her mother and stepfather, for her youngest son’s Bar Mitzvah at Massada.

Everybody really does have a unique story. We knew a number of people in common and she traced out her Jewish life adventure. I have heard it said that when people meet a psychologist they immediately start talking about their tzurris. I have no idea if it is true or not, but as a rabbi, people will often just start telling me their life’s Jewish story – especially on airplanes! I’ll have to ask George Kaplan what kind of conversations a urologist has on an airplane. And I won’t even ask the proctologists I know!

And so, fourteen hours passed. A little the worse for wear, but still excited and even smiling. (Remembering our condition as we exited the plane, makes that word “smiling” look a lot like “smelling,” but I will leave that part up to your imagination!)

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