December 24, 2014
We woke up in the Kibbutz of Ein Tzurim, everyone being extremely tired from the incredible night before, but excited for the jam-packed day to come. After a 2-hour bus ride with incredible views of the Dead Sea and the Negev we arrived at Mount Masada. We took the short route up, and arrived with an amazing view of the desert. After the many… many photos taken we began the touring. Our guides, as always, gave us an engaging explanation of how Herod built Masada and why. Additionally we learnt the story about the mountain’s siege and the complex zeal and tragedy of the Jewish people that died there.
Whilst standing in the remains of one of Herod’s storerooms Jonty explained that a few years back, two date 2000 year old date seeds had been found on site. The seeds were re-cultivated, with one seed blossoming into a tree, which stands tall even to this day. In his regular poetic manner, Jonty compared this story to the story of the Jewish people… as a nation in recent history and indeed at various points through out our collective narrative, we have appeared to be on the brink of destruction, nothing more than an old seed, which harks to the history of the past but appears to have little hope for the future. As promised, however, we have now returned to our land to replant our 2000 year old seed in the soil of our homeland. Here we as a people can truly grow and flourish, actualizing the potential of 2000 year old dream and making it into a tall, proud and evergreen tree. The route down Masada was not as easy as the route up, as we took the snake path down. As we fumbled and tumbled down the mountain’s face our appetites and excitement for the Dead Sea began to grow.
We arrived to the beautiful Dead Sea, with the clear blue water and desert mountains in the background. After a good 5 minutes of trying to get used to the cold we finally relaxed and enjoyed the exfoliating salt water (some more than others) floating alongside our friends. As we left the water, with smooth skin and salt everywhere the beautiful sunset over the Dead Sea captured us all. The mountains glistened with an orange light and the sky became a vibrant purple colour.
We got to the Bedouin tents, slightly concerned by its resemblance to gadna, where there was a large tent for the girls and boys. Then a Bedouin man came and talked to us about how Bedouins used to live, and live now. We were given green bean coffee as our first encounter with Bedouin hospitality, a good precursor of what would follow with dinner… Dinner was absolutely delicious with pita, hummus, chicken, rice, vegetables, salads, biscuits and sweet tea.
After dinner, there was a Chanukah miracle of being able to light Channukiot in the windy desert, as well as a bonfire, as we all began to wind down after our busy day.