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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hello. My name is Banji and I went to Israel for winter vacation. I wanted this to be a diary of that visit. Will it only be one column’s worth? Who knows? And perhaps some of you are saying, “Who cares?” In any event, let’s begin. Wait, before I begin, there is a slight problem. I still don’t know what I am calling the man-formerly-known-as-husband #1, but I will do my best to tell the tale.

This journey starts at the El Al terminal of JFK airport. El Al is known for their security, among other things. It was finally our turn. The three of us cautiously approach the lovely security woman. Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I had accepted many packages from people, so I could bring them to their children in the Holy Land. Of course, I knew not to tell this woman that, so I put on my “vacation Banji” face. “Now I must ask you this question,” the security lady began. “Did your house cleaner have access to these bags?” My family rolled their eyes in unison as they knew what was coming next. “Hey guys,” I said, non-vacation Banji quickly returning, “even the El Al lady thinks we have a cleaning lady.” But, alas, I had to inform the nice security lady that I, indeed, am the house cleaner and that is why we were flying economy-cattle instead of business class.

The flight to Israel is very, very long. I think it gets longer as one gets older. I decided to wear boots on the plane, my meek attempt at fashion, and I thought that my leg was swelling. Is that a thing? Am I developing a blood clot? I finally managed to take the boot off, which, as anyone who has flown knows, is a task worthy of Houdini. The last two times I went to Israel were courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh and my brother. This time, I am with son #3 and his father. I thought it would be fun to sit between them. No. Not so fun. But I do feel the love. Now I know why babies scream on a plane. Because they can. If a grown-up starts screaming on a plane, they turn the plane around and escort the grown-up off the plane. That doesn’t seem fair.

There has been a baby screaming for the past few hours. Can’t they take her off the plane? I am not spoiled. I was years ago, but that is no longer the case. So I know that I am so lucky that I have been able to go to Israel when others have not been able to do so. That being said, baby, please stop screaming.

And then the hours flew by and we were landing in Ben Gurion airport. A magnificent view of the sunset was out the window, and we were soon going to see son #2 (and wait for him to inform us if he was going to stay for another year, or two, or…). Another amazing thing about this adventure was the “yenta factor.” The man-formerly-known-as-husband #1 was in heaven because he knew so many people on our flight. And there were people he didn’t know that he was waving too because his eyesight isn’t what it used to be, but that is another story. Nothing like having your spouse yell hello to someone across the airport and then having your spouse realize that he has no idea who he has just yelled hello too.

The other problem with knowing people on the plane is that you have to be on your best behavior. No bickering or beating your child/spouse in public. It is a real challenge. In any event, I hope you enjoyed this first installation of the Ganchrows Take Israel. Tune in next week for some more exciting adventures.

By Banji Latkin Ganchrow

 Banji Ganchrow loved being in the Holy Land. She learned that people who aren’t friendly in America are also not friendly when you see them in Israel.