Last summer I flew with my mother and brother to London and Paris. The trip was my Bar Mitzvah trip – a gift for turning 13. It was my first time outside Israel or on an airplane.
When we landed in London I was excited. We stepped down the stairs, took some pictures and entered the airport. We stood in a long line and waited for our turn. At the end of the line we had a passports check. A woman asked us some questions: “Where are you from?” “How old are you?” and she even asked my mom what her job was. Then she asked us another question: “What is the purpose of the trip?”
We knew the answer, but we didn’t know how to reply. “It’s my son’s Bar Mitzvah trip,” my mom said. The woman looked at us strangely. “Bar Mitzvah trip? What is that?” she asked. My mother started to explain what a Bar Mitzvah trip was, why we do that, and when it happens. “Oh, I understand” the woman said and stamped our passports. “Enjoy your trip, kid” she said and looked at me. “Thank you” I answered, and we started walking. “Is it going to be like this all the time? We will have to explain to everyone that we’re from Israel, and that we’re on a Bar Mitzvah trip?” I thought to myself.
London is beautiful; the way it’s built, it’s history, the views, the old buildings, the funny accent and the nice people. We went to the Natural History Museum. Our group had a nice guide, he explained about the exhibitions, the sculptures, the dinosaur’s bones and the stuffed animals. It was amazing. We went into a room that simulates an earthquake. A family from our group started talking about an earthquake in Israel that happened two days before we flew to London, on August 7. Our guide asked what we were talking about when he heard the strange language he didn’t understand. We explained about the earthquake, and we told him that we’re from Israel. “Wow, you’re from Israel?” he asked. He started describing what he had heard about Israel. For example, he heard about the Dead Sea and about Eilat, and he said that he always wanted to visit Jerusalem. “Wow, people really know that we exist” I thought to myself again. The guide heard that we are talking Hebrew, and he was nice to us and asked us about Israel.
On the 5th day of the trip, we moved to Paris by the Eurostar train. We went to a grocery store and near the cash register sat an Arabic family – mother, daughter and son. After we made the purchase, the mother asked: “Where are you from?”
“We’re from Israel” my brother answered. “Oh, that’s nice, my sister lives in Lebanon. We always hear from her about Israel. She says that the people in Lebanon and Israel want peace, but the governments delay it,” the mother said. We continued talking about how important it is that the world would know what was really happening, and how important peace is and said goodbye.
Over the next days, we visited important sites in Paris like Eiffel Tower, Fontainebleau Castle, and Notre Dame Church, Arch of Triumph, The Palace of Versailles and more. Sometimes people heard us talking Hebrew and didn’t say anything bad or made us stop. One time in the Metro a man even asked if we are talking Hebrew and wanted to know more about Israel.
We have not encountered any bad attitude toward Israel, and even found that people do not think bad things about us and want to know more about the Jewish state. It is good to find kind people in Europe that are not racists or anti-Semites.