December 23, 2013
Today we were given the pleasure of seeing Israel in a new light. From leaving the Bedouin tents being the cultural side in the morning to boarding the buses to explore the historical side that is Masada and then visiting the Dead Sea conveying the natural perspective.
Our first stop, Masada loomed before us as we departed the bus. The runners lined up at the front to race up the mountain whereas we both walked up observing the sandy dips and curves of the Judean Desert. After much huffing and puffing we reached the top of the steep mountain and we were greeted by the vast surface of the Masada ruins and the winner of the race, Danny Rutner who made his way up the mountain in 3 minutes and 25 seconds! After taking in the picturesque scenery and snapping some selfies, we were given the opportunity to daven Shacarit in what is assumed to be one of the first synagogues in the world. With the overwhelming feelings of disbelief came pride as we were standing up saying the Amida surrounded by the ancient ruins we were rekindling the flames of what was thought to be the end of the Jewish people.
Shortly after we explored the ruins of the mountain fortress, it began to dawn upon us the bravery and defiance of all those who perished atop the final bastion of Judean resistance. After visiting Poland we understood that Am Yisrael is constantly resisting the darkness that tries to extinguish the eternal flame that is the light among the nations. Masada is a brilliant example of this as it shows the faith of the Jewish people and our persistence as Am Yisrael defies its oppressors and keeps the eternal Jewish faith. On the mountain, the 6 Masada students and 1 madricha represented the pride in their school by multiple cheers, smiles and photos #masadaonmasada .
Leaving behind the historical aspect we transcended from man made creation to divinely created natural wonders. The Dead Sea resonating its own unique story, invited us to experience all it had to offer. Sand turns to salt as the water hits the shore and without thongs the course salt pricks the soles of our feet. We look a leap into the water and started floating. Although the floating capability was an expected and seemingly simple prospect it still came as a surprise to everyone. With floating, remarks of pain followed as almost everyone discovered new wounds and cuts on their body. In the end the stinging sensation prevailed, as eventually everyone had to get out of the salty sea and struggle to rinse off the scratchy salt. Seeing the Dead Sea allowed us to witness what is evidently one of G-D’s marvelous creations (not the chocolate).
The two of us always like to take a message back with us from our journeys. This one we feel offers a lesson within itself, like entering the Dead Sea, you have to overcome some painful obstacles to get to a floating result, whether it be a childhood goal or short term aspiration. The Dead Sea proves to be a fun filled experience for everyone despite the stinging pains of what are now salt filled wounds. We continue to sympathies for all those brave students who entered what was already a preordained date with pain for those suffering with eczema.
The majority of the group however was distraught to hear that we would not be seeing the oasis at Ein Gedi. The snow had crossed us twice, once denying our departure from Jerusalem and now flooding the track to the beautiful springs in the Negev.
Todays ventures exhibited Israel’s phenomenon’s, making this one of the most memorable days of IST.
See you in 8 days. Lexi and Mia xoxo gossip fish