Our family group of 15 at the Ayalon Institute

As you read this, I am in Israel to celebrate my grandson’s bar mitzvah. My dream becoming a reality!

Getting to this point took years of planning, with many thanks to my daughter, Samantha, who helped me plan the trip bringing us together, 15 in all — my children and their children, and their in-laws.

The bar mitzvah will take place in Jerusalem, in the Old City by the Second Temple’s wall that has stood for thousands of years. Millions of people come to pray by the wall, and most leave messages of prayer or well-wishes, placing them in the crevices of the wall.

We arrived in Israel after a 10-hour flight on El Al, having left New York just before midnight. We mostly slept on the plane and watched many movies.

The plane touched down at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv at about 5:15 p.m. Israeli time, and we were soon met by a guide who took us through immigration and helped us navigate getting our many pieces of luggage. 

I had taken two bags because it was too hard to make a decision on which dresses or pants I should wear — so I took them all. 

But I could hear my late husband’s voice saying, “Less is more, you don’t need so many choices!” But being on my own, I listened to my voice and added a second piece of luggage. 

I’m pretty experienced at packing and I leave all my dresses, pants and tops on hangers so when I unpack, I can just hang everything up. 

With ease, I can also put my toiletries in the bathroom and my phone and chargers on my night table next to my Kindle. The best travel companion is a good book.

We were all together in a van that carried us to the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, offering a stunning view of the beaches and sailboats dotting the horizon as far as I could see.

The view from my room on the 14th floor of the Hilton in Tel Aviv

We all had dinner at the hotel’s expansive buffet, serving hot foods and salads of all kinds, on the 17th floor giving us dramatic views of the sea below.

On our first day, we visited the Ayalon Institute and the ancient port city of Jaffa, where we had dinner by the harbor.

Hudson resting after taking a tour of the armament factory at the Ayalon Institute

The Ayalon Institute is where, during Israel’s fight for independence, the residents hid below a laundry and bakery and secretly made bullets for the army. It was the beginning of Israel’s armament industry. 

To be continued…



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