ISRAEL FOR ALL
By Stuart Levenson - December 4, 2009
Late in October, it was my privilege to take a 12 day visit to Israel.For many years, have wanted to go to Israel; however, was under the suspicion that it would be impossible for someone like myself to do this as, with a regular tour, I would slow things down and would not get much out of it trying to visit from a seat in a bus. Not only was this trip one of the best of my life; but, it was the second one as I had come before nearly two years ago, a repeat offender, as it were.
A second trip, never thought that I would do that; however, I didn't think that I would do the first either; but, I did. I just completed 12 days in Israel, for the second time and loved every minute of it.
I'm retired from the U.S. Government and blind, living in the southern part of the country, Atlanta, Georgia and just had to take this trip, again, to compare it with what I saw on the first one. At that time, two years ago, I really didn't think that this could be done by a blind person; however, after two of them, let's try for three. This is really easy, it is not something that any blind person should be afraid of, it really works and I am proof of it, that is an understatement!
These two trips were completely different from each other, that's the way it turned out. The first trip was, in the north and more religious and the second one was, in the south and more secular, dealing with Israel as a viable and living country. In comparing the two, I can now see all of the various parts of the country and its people, how they live their lives and go about their day-by-day existence. Actually, there was some fear in taking the second trip, the first one was so good that I didn't want to push my luck in going again; however, that fear turned out groundless as can be seen by reading the rest of this article.
As I said, this trip was for twelve days. It started in Tel Aviv and went to the southern part of the country, ending in Jerusalem with visits to the Wall, Supreme Court and the Knesset itself, a wonderful experience to behold. The trip also included a visit to a guide dog school, David Ben Gurion's home, Independence Hall, several Kibbutzim and any number of other places that one must see in order to appreciate the country and its fantastic history. Along with all that, I can not say enough about the food and people, they made the trip a fantastic one, one that I will never forget.
The organization, Israel 4 All took care of everything that was done, they literally, did it all, made everything work and arranged all the accommodations with great efficiency, there were just not any problems that came up that could not be handled. The guide, Eli Meiri, a great friend, made everything work as smoothly as was possible to and made the entire thing work quite well, from the original pick-up at the Tel Aviv Air Port to the return back again many days later, it all went nearly as smooth as could be imagined. Along with all that, Eli answered all my stupid questions, took me to additional places that I wanted to go and gave me advice on what "not" to buy when I spotted something that I really didn't need.
Israel can be a difficult country to visit, difficult in the manner of logistics; however, it is all worked out so as to make it possible to see as much as can be seen and do as much as can be done. One should be prepared to do lots of walking on uneven ground, forget about flat surfaces and, the steps, that gives you a new respect for elevators, escalators and simple things that move people from one location to another. The people at Israel 4 All make it possible for a blind, or otherwise disabled person, to go and do as much as possible and be in as many places as can be under the circumstances. Add to that, the simple fact that, the people of Israel want you to participate in seeing their wonderful country and be a part of it in all that is possible, you will have a wonderful time and will never regret the trip or anything connected with it. This is something that every blind or disabled person should really do, enjoy, have a wonderful time and come back again, Shalom.