I want to go visit the State/Land/Country of Israel.
I just saw the news on my social media feed that a fellow Jew-by-Choice is going to go visit the country via birthright, a free 10-day trip for Jews aged 22 to 26. My body starts screaming in jealousy (my voice is silent, however). I ain't mad at them; shid I would be all on that birthright package if this was 2007 and not 2017. In fact, I'm excited for them for even going. It still doesn't erase the feeling of "awww man, I wanna go, too" in my heart.
In the words of Ronnie Wood: I can feel the fire burning deep inside.
When I began my Jewish journey, what got me to further pursue the religion was seeing that slideshow from a visiting emissary. To view the photos of the Western Wall, Tel Aviv (my favorite), and the countryside made my soul salivate.
Then upon becoming a Jew, trying to find a program where I could apply for a scholarship, or to be awarded free money to attend somewhere for an determined amount of time, was a little bit more harder than it looks.
According to the Jewish Cleveland website, they have programs for folks to visit Israel, whether it is for birthright or to help volunteer at a specific location within the country.
First, there is a page called i-Connect. This page has a few programs to help get younger folks over to Israel to visit for a variety of reasons. Besides birthright, there's a 2 month internship for college upperclassmen and recent college grads (aged 20-25), there's a "gap year" program, where you legit live in Israel for a year from right after you graduate high school, in preparation for your first year of college (note: my rabbi's oldest son is actually participating in this program, and you can follow his adventures on his blog), or you can study over there for a year (aged 19-30).
As you can see, as a 36-year old imperial pain in the ass, I don't qualify for any of that guud shid.
Next, there's IMPACT! and it has nothing to do with professional wrestling. This page has a whole bunch of opportunities to volunteer as well as visit Israel. Except it's for folks born between the years 1946 to 1964.
Browse through a couple of other feature pages, and basically I'm this Alien Jew. I don't fit anywhere in order to get a free trip to Israel.
Why don't you just do a GoFundMe for your Israel wish trip, just like how you did for the trip to New Orleans last year?
Well, do you know how much it costs to visit Israel, and everything that goes with it? It's hella more expensive than having both Brown Sugar and Lady Marmalade for one night only.
Just how much more expensive?
Let me gather some info. Pretend I'm leaving Cleveland on April 23 and coming back on May 2.
First, airline tickets to and from Tel Aviv: the average cost for a 10-day round trip would be about $2,000.
And if that wasn't bad enough, you need travel insurance because you're going into a country that is currently in a dispute with occupied Palestinian territories.
What's travel insurance?
Covering your dupiash, from flight changes to medical coverage to actual search and rescue (G-d forbid). That would be about $200.
Need a place to stay? Unless you have relatives or if you're a couch crasher, you will need a hotel room. For a single adult for 9 nights, hotel rooms can cost anywhere from $75- $250 a night. I wanna be a bit comfy, so let's do $200/night for 9 nights. That's $1,800, just to fucking sleep, shit, shower, and shave.
Oh yeah, want to eat? See a trinket you are interested in buying? Want to tour good ol' Jerusalem? Need cash money, honey. $2,500 should be sufficient, no?
Time to add all this up:
$2,000 - flight
$1,800 - hotel
$200 - travel insurance
$2,500 - food and stuff
$1,800 - hotel
$200 - travel insurance
$2,500 - food and stuff
A ten day trip to got damn Israel is roughly $6,500 (before tax). And that's just for those dates I randomly selected. If you go when travel season is in full effect or if you want to visit during a holiday, be prepared to shell out even more cash money.
This looks like a job for SUGAR PARENT TO THE RESCUE!!!1!11!!!1
Oh hell no, n-NO VERA. PUT THAT IDEA DOWN. Put. It. Down. Now. Vera.
What? How else in the fuck am I going to get to visit Israel? I'm a disabled fuck who wants to really immerse themself in all things Jewish and Israeli culture.
You do that already at temple, don't you?
I'm fed up with hearing stories from fellow synagogue congregants about their trip(s) to Israel, because not only does it feel like it's a rite of passage (and it probably is for some), but it keeps me in this hell hole within a Venn diagram between being a non-binary brat, a Jew, and being disabled and broke(n). Fuck, sometimes I wonder how folks at my congregation put up with me, standing out as a yellow tulip in a bed of violet ones. I mean, how does my own rabbi put up with me? He knows that I'm currently unable to bear children with my own ovarian follicles (one of the tenets of "being a Jew" is to have children and raise them as Jews; one of these days I'll raise an emotional support feline so that it can have a cat mitzvah or something). Then again, he also knew that I didn't want to have kids before I had my salpingo oophorectomy surgery, but still. My rabbi took my conversion case on regardless, and I am very grateful that he did. I just feel so fucking got damn isolated. It's not his or anybody's fault; it's just the way it is right now.
Oh, I see what this is really about. You want to fit in; be one with the crowd.
Dear Reader, it's more than just that. I wanted to become a Jew so that I could be a Jew. And now that I am a Jew, I want to continue my Jewiness by following whatever is guiding me to Israel; to see why I am being intuitively call there.
Look, it's bad enough that I was always the outsider in life. I was the proverbial black sheep in my family (there was "always something wrong" with me). I would get picked last, or worse, not picked at all to play with other classmates in school. Even when I was an Orthodox Christian, I didn't fit in church because I didn't speak Ukrainian. The only places and times that I did feel like I was a member of the fam is when 1) I'm with my former radio broadcast colleagues and 2) I'm with fellow members of Wednesday morning Torah study. There are a few folks at temple and the LGBT chavurah that I consider as family, but it's not the same when I'm just a body in a crowd of haves. Because I have not.
I really want to go visit Israel.
I don't think I can be or feel fully Jewish if I don't get to go there before I die. Hell, I don't even feel this way about wanting to visit Ukraine as much as I do about Israel.
Israel may not be ready for a gendervague piece of work like me. But I am so ready for them.
*sigh* I want to go to Israel.