May 18, 2024
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May 18, 2024
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Unique Journey to the Holy Land

After three cancellations to Israel during the year of COVID, Hashem finally granted us the opportunity to go to the “Holy Land” for the Shavuot holiday. It was a feat to prepare for the departure since numerous forms, protocols and vaccinations were required to ensure entry.

Kudos to my husband, Bobby, who was the point person to fulfill all the requirements. Usually one person in the family needs to be assigned to oversee that all the forms are being taken care of in a timely manner. He dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s on multiple forms, yet even the day we left, a last-minute document appeared on the computer before our flight.

The forms themselves are not typically user-friendly; and for example, just simply adding a phone number in a blank space can be a problem. If you leave out the “+1” or put it in the wrong place, you are informed that your entry was unsatisfactory—without, of course, telling you why. Sound familiar? Hours of frustration, but definitely worth the journey in the end.

It was negligible that we first applied to the Consulate within the two-week mandated time frame, which now increased to a generous three weeks. We gave up relying on the Consulate, and my son took care of the entry permits in Israel, with long waits online. It was either that, we realized, or we wouldn’t be going. The job was finally done; we got the PCR tests and were fully ready and excited to finally hug our Israeli grandchildren again.

For the next surprise drama, on the day before our flights (Wednesday evening), a steady barrage of rocket fire bombarded Tel Aviv, the southern city of Ashkelon and towns on the Gaza border. The violence was escalating, with over 3,000 rockets shot into Israel. A day before our scheduled departure, Lod was terrorized with burning of our treasured Torahs and synagogues, and tension in Israel was sky-high. It is a known fact that the people in Modi’in had to resort to their mamad the Thursday before with a generous 90-second siren notice. In Sderot it was only a 30 second warning.

But, through it all, we were determined to fly. Our United Airlines flights for Wednesday, May 12 were cancelled, yet we did not give up hope. Our kids called at 3 in the morning from Israel, and we immediately booked the next El Al flight that Thursday evening; it was the only airline left with a commitment to fly. We had to take another PCR test, as the results from the previous one no longer fit into the 72-hour time frame. No matter what it took, no matter what strife we were in for, we knew that if my family was in harm’s way, we would be there with them. We were prepared to huddle with our kids in the mamad they are used to, yet is new and unfamiliar territory for us.

The day we left we were told that the plane was being re-routed to land in Eilat at the Ramon Airport, not Ben Gurion. At the airport, it was not very consoling that the news screens were displaying constant warnings from the Palestinians threatening to bomb the airports. We had to count the seconds to plan if we would make it to Ramat Beit Shemesh for Shabbat from Eilat. After the planning and concern, we consoled ourselves that at least we’d be in Israel to make it to our son’s home for Shavuot that Sunday night.

Our enthusiasm never waned. We knew we were plowing ahead to share time and simchas with our family, which included my granddaughter’s bat mitzvah. We would do anything at that point to get there! Suddenly we were notified that plans reverted back to land in Ben Gurion after all and it was a relief that we made it just in time for Shabbat.

It was interesting to see the mixed reactions from family and friends before flying. Some people were encouraging. In this time of danger, they said, we are all in it together, don’t change any plans. Others questioned whether we should go at this stressful time. We knew the sentiments were shared out of concern, but we went ahead knowing we were doing the right thing.

We left in the midst of rockets flying, but came back with a cease-fire. Israelis have a new slogan: “We cease, they fire.” We actually heard a rocket flying over Ramat Beit Shemesh at 2 in the morning on the mirpeset, but further drama was minimal after all. All proceeded well, we enjoyed every second and was thankful to Hashem for allowing us to be there for a most special time.

Did we go touring all over? No, we consciously kept it to a minimum. But the times we had just sharing with family cannot be replaced. We knew we did the right thing! And having taken the serological test and the last PCR test at the airport, we celebrated that we finally got our “Green Card,” which may no longer be needed after all. The accomplishment of acquiring the “Green Pass” surpasses any diploma, certificate, license or master’s degree that I have achieved.

Funny thing is, the Consulate finally got back to us after the trip; and the day we returned home to sort the delayed mail, our Apostille stamp for our son’s birth certificate was received. And even that is no longer needed.

B”H we’re back and looking forward to the birth of our first great-grandchild. It’s funny how life takes its turns. Bobby and I feel blessed to enjoy every minute.

So now that you’ve heard our story, what is yours? Seems that with life rebounding, as of July 1 all travelers to Israel will have restrictions lifted.

It amazes me how Israel is exploding with housing all over. And for now, it is time to share the market snapshot back in Bergen County once again during this busy spring season. Here goes:

The New Jersey MLS reports another strong market for home sales in April. The spring market, which is always characterized as the strongest season, was reported at this time with many multiple competitive offers driving sales prices above asking price.

The frustration falls on the buyers who are frequently having to submit offers on multiple properties before they are awarded as the chosen purchaser. The monthly snapshot indicates +55.9% on one-year change in closed sales on all properties; a decrease of -29.2% in homes for sale; plus an increase of +4.6% in median sales prices on all properties. As indicated, the sellers’ market perseveres at this time. But don’t lose hope. It’s worth riding the waves and enduring the challenges, to achieve your housing goals and dreams.

Ruby Kaplan is a realtor licensed in both New Jersey and New York. Visit for more information. The Ruby and Bobby Kaplan team/United RE/ will promote your home with the best of social media and create alerts for your criteria of housing needs. Your housing needs are our priority! Ruby can be reached at 201-314-4152 or on her cell at 917-576-4177 or at [email protected].

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