The heat was sweltering; warm waves of heat came towards me and hit my face slapping me back into my new reality. I looked around me, swarms of people everywhere shielding themselves from the hot sun. I held my sisters’ hands tightly and made sure my Mom was holding my brothers. Step-by-step we walked down the airplane stairs, slowly taking in the new atmosphere. At the end of the stairs, my Mom took us to the side and started kissing the ground. “Kiss it!” she said, and we were so embarrassed. “Stop Mommy please, people are looking”. “You don’t know how long I’ve waited for this moment”, she said. She knelt down repeatedly and kissed the scorching cement. She got up, composed herself and kept walking towards the passport control area indoors. As we walked through the large glass doors, we were thankful there was strong air-conditioning in the hall. The lines were so long, even for Israeli passport holders. I was anxious, kept checking on my younger siblings making sure they were ok and cheering them up. “Don’t worry guys; I don’t think it’s this hot all the time, maybe just in August.” We stood in line for what seemed like an eternity, waiting to get to the other side and see who was awaiting us. We finally made it after my Mom answered a few questions as to why she was there alone with five children. “We’re coming back home” she said to the soldier at the counter. “Oh”, she said “enjoy”.
We walked towards the baggage control; all the while people passing us by, speaking loudly and brushing by us rudely. I felt as if I was in a movie and all these visions were part of a fast-paced scene. Suddenly my Mom yelped! Her two brothers and brother-in-law jumped on her. “Hadassa”, they cried. “You’re here”. They then proceeded to kiss us all on both cheeks and hug us tightly. The whole thing was overwhelming. We were still in shock from leaving our beloved home behind. Packing up all our things, giving some away to our Mexican housekeeper, and saying goodbye to our friends. They were asking us loads of questions- “How was your flight?”, “Are you happy to be in Israel?”, “When is your Daddy coming?”.
I had to sit, my feet were shaking and I couldn’t cope with all the excitement. I would be ok, I said to myself, but what about my four younger siblings? How would my baby brother Akiva who was only 5 at the time cope? He didn’t know any Hebrew and was joined at the hip of my Mom. What about Ofra? She was only 9 and oh so fragile. The thoughts and worries floated around in my head like thin cumulus clouds. “Don’t worry”, my uncle said in Hebrew, “It will be ok”. I was reassured by his remark as he patted my leg. How did he know what I was thinking? I guess this is what family means. He could read my mind and he knew exactly what to say. I was getting excited to meet all of my twenty some cousins and seven aunts and uncles.
We finally gathered all our things. My uncles carried all the suitcases and my Mom held us close to her. We were going outdoors again. Brace yourself, I said, the heat will hit you like a slap in the face. We walked outside into a screaming pack of people. People were calling out names, jumping up and down, holding colorful signs and waving. The welcoming area was a madhouse and we were all frightened. We slowly pushed ourselves through the crowd and made it to my uncle’s van. We loaded our entire luggage, sat in the back seat and looked around us. And that was it; we were home once again, this time for good. I turned around to look at the airport one last time and realized I wouldn’t be seeing it for several years.