The Bedouins, Masada, and the Dead Sea
When we signed up to tour around Israel, we were told that we would go to places like Masada and the Dead Sea and the Bedouin tents but these places are so much more then tourist attractions.
After Shabbat, we left Jerusalem and traveled south to the desert. We found ourselves in a Bedouin community, where we learned about the ways that this culture has sustained life in the desert. They welcomed us with smoothies, coffee, and marshmallows, and showed us how to use the sun and our own bodies to produce energy for every day appliances, such as riding a bike to produce energy for a blender. We rode camels and donkeys and ate a traditional Bedouin meal. All of bus 314 agreed that it was one of the best meals of the trip!
As the sun set and it began to cool down we prepared to sleep under the stars all together in a tent. We relaxed by a bonfire as Tomer played the guitar and we sang along to everything from Justin Timberlake to Alanis Morrisette and everything in between.
Although a beautiful evening, our sleep in the desert only lasted a few hours because we woke up at 3:45 AM to climb Masada before the sun rose.
Masada. Was. Amazing.
It truly was a unique combination of Jewish history, archeology, hiking, and bonding. Although it was early, we hiked up hundreds of feet, just in time to see the sunrise. We toured the ruins that were still intact and learned the story of the Jews who lived on top of the mountain around 30 BCE.
The story of Masada is an important story for our Jewish collective memory. When the Romans were fighting, the Jewish community living on the mountain the Jews realized that they were going to be defeated. Instead of surrendering to the Romans and becoming slaves, all the Jews chose to commit mass suicide, so that they could die free and not slaves. We learned that when Israelis learn the story they teach that "Masada shall never fall again." We discussed how we all have a role we can play to keep Jewish freedom alive in Israel and all over the world.
After Masada, we descended to the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea -- one of the wonders of the world. As I reflected on the experiences of the past day and floated in the famous Dead Sea with my new friends, both American and Israeli, I felt truly blessed to be young and Jewish and free to visit Israel.