Sometimes you have to meet your greatest fears head on. Well, in this case it was feet first. Jumping out of an airplane at 12,000 feet to celebrate my birthday recently, hoping it wouldn’t be my last. There are only two skydiving clubs in Israel.

I chose to jump at Habonim Beach just outside of Haifa.nThe instructional video they show you is supposed to calm your fears if you’re a first timer. Did it? I’m sure you can guess. At least it gave me some idea of how to maneuver my body while shooting through the sky at 120 miles per hour. I jumped tandem – attached to my instructor Ilan. He says that for him, jumping is like washing the dishes– he’s been doing it numerous times a day for the past ten years. I remember hoping that he’s not used to breaking any dishes.

We boarded a Cesna Caravan and glided into the sky. There was a group of IDF paratroopers on my flight preparing to be certified as instructors. They looked cool like I hoped a paratrooper would be, but I wasn’t quite as battle ready. We reached our maximum altitude and walked gingerly to the ledge of the open plane. A bird’s eye view of half the country spread before us. That moment right before the jump was definitely the scariest – and there really was no going back. The only way home was straight down.

Then we took the plunge. The wind was burning my face – it felt like I was floating, though in actuality, I was plummeting at 120 miles per hour, slicing through the air. The free fall lasted for fifty seconds – I could barely breathe. Was it fear, excitement, or the thin amount of oxygen at this altitude? Probably all three!

Then the main parachute flew open and we hovered through the atmosphere for about eight minutes. I cried the whole way down… Excitement, relief, the joy of flying, who knows? It was definitely one of the most emotional experiences of my lifetime. When I made it back to earth, I looked back at the heavens and thanked them for getting me down safely – and wondered when I could do it again.

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