It is 3 AM in Israel and I write these words knowing that I will not have time to write about the following today’s events as it will be too close to Shabbat when we arrive in Masada, our destination for Shabbat.
I am sure you will notice that superlatives become redundant but oneself can’t help it, when every time you put your foot down, you know that you are sharing your stride with four thousand years of our people’s history.
We will soon wake up and head to Afik School for a reception with their students and faculty. They always welcome us with open arms. This effort to unite the Montreal Jewish Day School students with the students of Be’er Sheva is conducted by Federation CJA and it is important for the children on both sides of the world to know that we are, as Herzl called it, “one people” with mutual concerns and mutual interests.
Following our visit to Afik, we will dwell on two of the miracles we wrote about yesterday–the Miracle of Abraham and the Miracle of David Ben Gurion, the founding Prime Minister of the modern State of Israel.
We will hike up the breathtaking Ein Ovdat Canyon, a deep canyon carved by thousands of years of water erosion, since the little water that Israel has, gushes from the higher terrain to cut into the desert rock and sand. It is hard to imagine walking through the desert, with rock and earth, to finally arrive at a waterfall and a pure oasis, it is such a beautiful sight to see this morning! We will be joined for the weekend by the students of Afik with whom we will spend Shabbat.
This is the land in which Biblical Abraham walked thousands of years ago. These are the lands with which David Ben Gurion fell in love as he was driving to Jerusalem from Eilat and met a group of twenty years old building Sdeh Boker. He wrote simply and honestly that he was jealous of them. While he was in Jerusalem debating politics, these youngsters were building Israel and he was genuinely jealous so he quit the government and gave up the city and politics to live with nature; building the land, Eretz Yisrael. We called Ben Gurion miracle number three. We will visit his most humble home which was a hut in the desert. We will visit his and his wife’s graves overlooking the Zin riverbed in the most meaningful and most unassuming spot in the world, a simple lookout in the desert.
It is not a stretch to think about miracle five, making the desert bloom, as the stark contrast between the parched land of the early 1950s when this settlement was built, the gorgeous Kibbutz with green spaces and a kibbutz swimming pool of today. This is also the research for the Ben Gurion University’s solar energy projects with fields of solar panels.
Following these visits, we will head east towards the Dead Sea to spend our Shabbat in Masada.
We will welcome the Shabbat with the traditional Shabbat Service at which we will have emotional pride as the SSA students will once again demonstrate their command of the Shabbat liturgy as they chant the service. We will have a community Kiddush and we will celebrate our first Shabbat in Israel in the wilderness of Masada.
On Shabbat, we will climb and descend the Snake Path—a challenging but exhilarating hike. At the top, our guide, Chen will explain the heroism of the Masada, the valiant stand of the remnants of the Jewish community and the extraordinary architectural feats of Herod.
We look forward to our Dead Sea float and the camel rides on Sunday.
Shabbat Shalom from Israel.