Day 22 - Netzach - Jaymi Aronowitz
The day began with a 5am wakeup for those willing to endure the long awaited, semi-dreaded Masada hike. The hike was voluntary but the majority of Netzach chose this early-morning option. This is my first time in Israel, let alone first trip to Masada, and I was so excited to start the day after hearing about Masada being a highlight of so many Israel trips. We were lucky it was so early and still very dark as we started the climb as we didn’t realise the enormity of the mountain standing before us. The more we climbed, the closer we were to the sunrise. The way the sun rose west, perfectly over the mountains of Jordan was seriously something special - it was spectacular!
As we ascended, all exhausted, we knew the view and education at the top was all worth it. We had a powerful shachrit service during sunrise, and then we were guided by Jonty through a tour of Masada. We explored the fortress built by King Herod in 30 BCE, whose architectural feats have left their mark throughout the country. Jonty explained how in the year 73 A.D there were 960 Jewish zealots living at the top of Masada who chose to commit suicide rather than to fall into the hands of the Romans. Their deeds left behind a saga of courage, heroism, and martyrdom. Personally, whilst hiking I did not feel a connection to the mountain. However, listening to the history made me feel this strong connection to the Jews living in Israel dating back over 2000 years ago. It was a very surreal feeling; something that I had not yet experienced and something that will stay with me forever. As we cable carted down the mountain reflecting what we just climbed, we were all in awe!
We were treated to a delicious lunch at the bottom of Masada before heading to Ein Gedi. Our guide Rav Doron explained what it means when land is classified as a desert. We explored Israel’s premier hiking spots, featuring spectacular beauty, varied landscapes, and botanical gardens. Through this I felt honoured and proud to be able to walk through the beautiful Ein Gedi as a Jew and take in the gorgeous waterfalls and fresh springs. I am privileged to be walking in land of Israel and each story solidifies and enhances this experience.
Next stop was the long awaited Dead Sea which is the lowest point on earth and is surrounded by the stunning landscape of the Negev. I wasn’t sure what to expect as this was my first time here, and no one had warned me about the sting of the water... All 41 Netzach girls entered the famous Dead Sea, which boarders Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. We experienced a feeling of peace as we floated through the salt water - a truely relaxing and enjoyable way to end the day.
After some photos and washing all the salt off, we went stargazing. We arrived in the middle of the desert with telescopes set up everywhere, and had the opportunity to learn about all different stars and the impact each star has. It was the ideal setting as we sat around a bonfire eating toasted marshmallows, drinking tea and staring at the stars! A perfect end to what I would call the most perfect day!