Eight weeks after we announced our Aliya, the day has finally arrived. We are off. The glorious sunny weather has encouraged a few remarks of ‘we get sun here as well so why do you need to go to Israel for the better weather?’ even though it is absolutely freezing. All packed up and sitting waiting for the taxi – atmosphere a bit tense. The taxi arrives early much to our parents dismay (even though they are following the taxi to come to the airport with us).
What is the most anticipated part of the airport experience? When the Elal person asks you ‘what is your reason for travel?’ Our dream response of ‘we are making Aliya!!!!’ is straightway shut down when the guy didn’t even ask us but took one look at our 11 bags and said ‘Ah, you are making Aliya – ok come this way.’ We just nod feebly and follow him to answer the security questions.
A nice, smooth check in where for once our suitcases are not overweight (we do have 190kg weight allowance between the four of us plus a full shipment), we say our teary goodbye to our sobbing parents with a very puzzled and confused onlooking Ella wondering why everyone was crying when only she and Eitan are usually the ones to cry. Feeling very loved, we walk away through to security.
The check in lounge is busy but we manage to entertain Eitan with food and Ella with a new pair of oversized earphones so that she can watch her programmes without subjecting the rest of us to listen to Peppa Pig. So far, so smooth.
The flight is slightly delayed, mostly full and arrives into Ben Gurion at 9.15pm. As prepped by the Jewish Agency, the man is waiting for us by the lifts just after you get off the plane. His name is Avraham and he takes us to a secret part of Ben Gurion airport. It is not really so secret it is just we never knew it existed before even though it is right in front of your eyes when you go to passport control. Up in a lift with a special key (feeling very special that we are allowed in this lift), we arrive in the offices to receive our Teudat Oleh and our Teudat Zehut. What is our first welcome to Israeli culture – a huge bag of sweets given to Ella at 9.45pm. Before we know it, she has cracked open a lollypop, polished it off in about a minute. Five minutes later, the sugar high is kicking in and we have a thousand word a minute talking Ella who is running up and down the offices. Some think this is sweet. Others tell her to shush so that they can concentrate and get us out of the offices so that they can go home. An hour after we stepped into the lift to go up, we are walking through passport control armed with our Israeli documents – we are Israeli citizens.
Collecting all 11 pieces of luggage, two car seats, pushing two buggies, we walk through the doors of the arrival lounge at 11pm to the roars of our welcome party – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, friends - waiting with balloons, banners and teddy bears. Overwhelming and amazing. This is the moment we have been waiting for. Cheesy photos of us holding our Teudat Zehut taken, we are ushered into our taxi – one for our luggage and one for us and off we go to start our new life in Israel.