Day 22 - Lehava - Jamie Orleow & Dani Meyer
We woke up to an early 5:45 start feeling the excitement rush through our bodies as we realised we would be hiking up Masada in just over an hour. We quickly got dressed and headed to breakfast to provide energy for the big day ahead. We headed to the buses with big smiles covering our faces. After a short bus ride we cane into sight of the spectacular Masada. We saw the gigantic mountain scenery, and the winding snake path, and took a second to visualise how far up we would be going. Half the group hiked up the mountain ascending step by step approaching the summit, while the other half who were less adventurous , took the cable car, which offered spectaculars views through the transparent windows. Only Dean didn’t appreciate the views as his fear of heights meant he kept his eyes closed the whole way up! We all got together in the Shul on he top of Masada; the hikers spoke about their sense of achievement when reaching the summit and the amount of leg exercise they had received! We davened Shacharit, with the sunlight on us and incredible view of the 2000 year old synagogue surrounding us.
Following tefilla, we embarked on a small yet meaningful tour with our guides Tuvye and Brian, where we learnt the significance of the mountain we were standing on. We learned about the sacrifices taken upon the mountain by the Jews during the war against the Roman Empire and we all found a sense of pride to be standing there 2000 years later as proud young Jews that lived half way across the world. Tuvye discussed the stripes from the Tallit which originated from the Israeli flag and the significance of the connection between Jews and the Tallit. The whole program has reinforced the message that we are the links to Jewish continuity. Collectively we peered over the fences and tried to comprehend the endless expanse of desert, with the Dead Sea in the distance, which we had swam in the previous day. We discussed the link between Yom Hazikoron and Masada and how everyone stops for 2 minutes on this day in Israel to remember the Jews including the ones who fell on Masada and the moral of the words “Hakarat Ha’Tov”, which means to recognise the good and how it relates to our entire state being protected by the young kids who are keeping our land safe in the air, sea and land to secure our freedom within the land. We learnt about the birthright program to educate the 1 in 4 American students that are not offered a Jewish education. We learnt about the 4 main heritage sites in Israel that are most important to visit. 1. Masada 2.Kotel 3. Cemetery (proper name) 4. Yad Vashem. After the tour, we began our walk back down Masada which was much quicker and easier, as proud Jewish people
With rumbling stomachs, we hopped on the bus for and hour and a half drive to lunch at the Anzac museum, where we ate burgers, salad and chips in a park, while chatting about our incredible experiences from the morning. Our next program was the Beersheba museum; we were unsure of what to expect and dreading the typical museum experience. We were split up into little groups which consisted of 2-3 family groups and went through a 3 station program. Contrary to our beliefs, it was such a good experience! The first activity was in a closed chamber where we watched a 20 minute 4D film about a survivor, Dave Mitchell, and his experiences during the Battle of Beersheba. The second activity was held by the Anaconda cemetery and we were given several “riddles” relating to specific tombstones which we had to find and study. The last activity was a talk and presentation about the battle and the details of the war.
After these activities we made our way to the Israeli airforce museum in Beersheba. We had a tour guide who took our bus groups around the different airplanes which were used in the battle of independence including French, British, German and Russian planes. Our group began the tour in the aircraft area where we were taught about the targets that were stuck on the planes to identify how many kills each plane had carried out. She showed us a specific plane, number 159, which had a total of 13 targets leaving it as one of the most successful ones! Despite our guides protests, we all gathered around one of the exhibited planes for a Lehava photo.
On the way ‘home’ we were given a chance to stock up on food in preparation for the options which would start the next day.
After our long, event packed day we packed all of our stuff so we could leave early the next morning, heading off in different directions on the various options.
Overall we throughly enjoyed day 22 of our IST experience and we are looking forward to the next 3 weeks of our insanely good trip. Today we took a chance to internalise the honour of being Jewish and every day we believe we are getting closer to fulfilling our role in Jewish continuity.
Jamie Orleow and Dani Meyer