Let my people go! One of the more famous verses of the Bible. You probably know it. Moses stands before Pharaoh, and pleads with him to set the Jewish slaves free . Moses asked that Pharaoh allow them to go out to the desert to worship their God. If only for a few days….
The slaves were tired. Tired of being slaves. Tried of living under the same lockdown conditions. Tired of being limited in their movements. Tired of looking at the same walls. Not being allowed to venture out.
Every year, we retell the story. Sound familiar? Can we relate?
I think we can. Ever since Covid-19 descended upon us, I feel very connected to the Biblical story. Here in Israel we are going through our third lockdown. We are told not to go out further than 1000 meters from our homes. Curtail our travel and visits to families and friends. Work from home, unless you are considered an essential worker. And above all, Close down most businesses and workplaces that are not essential to our daily living.
You call this freedom? More like slavery!!
Lest you think I’m exaggerating , I want to point out that my industry, the tourism industy has come to a virtual standstill. Tourism world wide seems to be a relic of our past. It’s been close to a year since my last tourists came to Israel to tour the country. It’s getting harder and harder to visualize tourists walking with me thru the streets of Jerusalem, or driving with me to explore Masada.
The only people that seem to be flying anywhere are Israelis who are going to visit our new friends in the UAE. These Israelis seem to be able to come and go as they please. Well, almost. And in return some of these new friends from the UAE are coming here.
But that’s it. The rest of us stay home. Most of us, but not everyone, do our best to follow the lockdown rules. We are doing our best to insure that we stay healthy.
We maintain social distance. We only go out when necessary . Those of us who go to Synagogue, keep to the rules and limitations the government has set . Ten persons indoors, and 20 outside. Fortunately, the weather has been with us. January feels almost like spring. Warm days, cold nights. Sitting at my writing desk, with the sun streaming thru the window above me, I get my daily dose of vitamin D.
Enough is Enough!
Its’ time to let the people Go! Take us out of Slavery! Just Let us out,,please!
We are a people who love to travel. Our bags are already packed. Jews have always been travelers. 2000 years of diaspora has kept us constantly moving. Even here in our own country ..we are always ready to go somewhere.
And I’m sure that as soon as we can..we shall!
But for now, we wait. We are still under lockdown. Still behaving as slaves to a virus that we have yet to overcome.
Is there light at the end of this dark tunnel? You bet!
Israel has started on this path. We have begun vaccinating our population. As of today, we have given shots to nearly 1 million people. All within just two weeks! We are leading the world in speed and efficiency . Within a short while, everyone who wants to will have received the complete dose of the vaccinations. Soon after that, I believe the government will not be able to hold us back. Once the majority of the country will be inoculated , everyone will be ready to go..somewhere!
At the same time, tourists from all over the world will begin to come here. Passover and Easter are just around the corner. Religious tourists, Jews and others usually plan their trips for this time . Many people want to spend these holidays here in Israel. Families from abroad come to visit and be with their loved ones. Others come just to enjoy the festive atmosphere and tour the sites..
I sincerely hope that our government realizes this and is getting ready to welcome them. We need to plan for this great welcome now, and be ready to allow those who want to come. We need to establish guidelines, rules, etc that will allow these tourists to come for the holidays.
Here are a few suggestions:
1: Get Vaccinated!
Don’t dawdle! The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner you can be cleared to come.
2: Bring Proof of Vaccination or Antibodies ! Get A green Passport .Many other areas in the world require proof of vaccination before you can travel there. Israel can and must do the same. Make sure the airline you choose accepts and honors the Green Passport or some other form of vaccination completion I.D
3: Provide Proof of Vaccination or Antibodies (POV/A) when making your plane reservation
This way the airline and all the relevant authorities in your country of origin as well as here in Israel KNOW that you have been vaccinated, or have the antibodies.
4: Carry this POV/A (proof of vaccination/antibodies) with you at all times when you travel, just like a passport.
**Don’t leave home without it! **
5: Wear a mask when traveling.
Even with the vaccination, you want to be protected at all times.
Israel’s Ministry of Tourism needs to make sure that the Ministry of Health and any other relevant authorities will accept these guidelines NOW!
Sign the relevant agreements with the airlines and travel companies.
Prepare NOW for the onslaught of tourists that are ready to come!
Passover and Easter are just around the corner. After these tourists come, others will surely follow.
Its’ time to let my people go..and come!!