By Larry Gordon

On Monday we arrived in Israel after a nearly yearlong COVID-induced hiatus. It was a beautiful trip on the new El Al 787 Dreamliner. The flight was packed with exuberant passengers, young and not-so-young, a group of women excited about a weeklong Project Inspire week of, well, inspiration, a Birthright group, and more.

As you may have read, on Sunday, because of an unattended bag left inside Terminal 4 at JFK, the terminal that includes the El Al check-in area was evacuated and closed. JFK was thrown into a mad tizzy and I don’t know if they’ve recovered from it yet. The bomb squad and heavily armed police were called to the scene. It turns out that a passenger rushing to catch a flight inadvertently left a bag behind.

When we arrived at JFK a few hours later, the incident was long-concluded. But that was no reason to get back to the normal routine; why miss an opportunity to make slow work go even slower? Everything was backed up at JFK, but we were able to board our flight.

In a darkened cabin up in the air, about three hours prior to landing in Tel Aviv, one of the flight attendants knelt at the side of my seat and in halting but understandable English said to me, “Mr. Gordon, something happened, and I’m sorry the news is not so good.”

We are 37,000 feet over Europe, moving at 690 miles per hour, I thought to myself. What is this guy talking about? Did they run out of coffee? Was I on the wrong flight? Were we landing in Tehran?

I looked at him, puzzled, and he told me that he’s sorry, but our luggage did not make it onto the flight.

I wanted to make sure I understood, so I asked him to repeat what he said. “OK,” he said. Because of the evacuation of Terminal 4 in New York and the overall shortage of staff handling baggage, unfortunately, our things did not get on the flight, he explained. My immediate reaction was to ask if Putin or Zelensky had our bags, and it was a relief when he said that, no, neither of those two who are notoriously blamed for everything today had the luggage.

Anyway, I’m writing these words on Monday night while waiting for two flights to arrive in Tel Aviv with our three suitcases. After a few hours of desperately needed sleep I woke up to a text from Gil, the diligent angel who carefully traced our bags’ travels overseas. Gil manages the flow of people traffic in the El Al terminal at JFK. He told me from the start that he was going to oversee the journey of our luggage from sea to shining sea, and he did.

When our baggage arrives, I stare at our well-traveled suitcases. They seem no worse for the wear, the contents sitting there neatly folded, just waiting for us. It was agonizing and frustrating, but we persevered with the help of some of the top brass at El Al with whom I became acquainted last year. They are probably a little uncertain about why they gave me their cellphone numbers when we met last year, but I’m glad they did.

We booked the King David months ago because it is beautiful here and they feature the most exquisite pool in a spectacular scenic setting. It’s important to note that we booked our stay here long before President Joe Biden did. The president is coming to Israel next week and will be in Jerusalem for two days before moving on to Saudi Arabia where he will beg the royal family to produce more oil so the left in the U.S. can go on supporting him, and gas at the pump can be slightly lowered so he can say he delivered for the American people.

We arrived at the hotel and were chatting with the welcome-new-guests people when I casually asked, “Isn’t the president coming here next week?”

The response was, “Oh yes, we tried to reach you, unsuccessfully; you are booked to the 14th but you’ll have to leave by noon on the 12th.”

Esta and I looked at one another and said that we had figured that but hadn’t heard anything, so where do we go? The young lady we were talking to said she could place us in another Jerusalem hotel, but if she were in our shoes she would leave Jerusalem because half the city is going to be closed.

She added, by the way, that they would pay for our transfer and lodging. The truth is that I’d love to be here when Mr. Biden is here, but I would have to go through the Government Press Office and, besides, the press is not staying at the King David so we would have to move anyway.

In that vein, I’m recalling how we were here in Jerusalem five years ago when then-President Trump made a state visit. At the time we were here in Jerusalem with Dr. Joe Frager, Governor Mike Huckabee, and a few other folks of note. It was the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem and the prelude to America’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. We knew about it in advance but the point is that we had to exit the King David to make way for the presidential entourage. I’m not going to say that we did so gladly because we so enthusiastically approved of what he was doing. But we did so gladly because it was our patriotic duty. And besides, we had no choice.

I’d like to say that I don’t agree with the Biden plans for Israel. But that cannot really be said because they are not his policies; the Biden administration’s policy on Israel is produced and directed most likely by Barack Obama. So there’s what to disagree about and oppose.

Right now, as the week rolls on and we go to press, we will probably move over to Tel Aviv for two nights before returning to New York.

When a president—any president of just about any country—comes to Israel they usually not only stay with their people at the King David but they take over the entire hotel. In this case, it is a week before the Biden visit and I already see dozens of Secret Service and advance team types having breakfast early in the morning at the hotel. There’s a great deal of work that needs to be done before a presidential visit, and that’s the exciting part of the entire enterprise.

Other than that, President Biden’s meeting with new Prime Minister Yair Lapid will accomplish nothing because they are both waiting to be voted out of office. At least we will get to see another dimension of Israel from Tel Aviv—with our luggage close by at all times.

Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here