Today we were lucky enough to have been given an incredible ‘pre-Shabbos’ sleep-in. We were woken up at 8am, and seeing as we were on Kibbutz, our ears rung with the sounds of cows mooing and chickens clucking in the distance. Whilst reciting Modeh Ani I reflected on my amazing day yesterday and was instantly excited for the day ahead. After eating breakfast and saying our morning prayers, we boarded the busses en route to Beit Govrein national park. I called my family and wished them all a Shabbat Shalom before we embarked on our journey. Whilst driving to the park my tour guide, Jonty, taught us about the 1948 war and how the Kibbutzim were involved in it. It was truly fascinating to hear about the extent to which life on Kibbutzim have changed over the years, and I feel very lucky to have had the privilege of sleeping on Kibbutz Ein Tzurim for the past few nights, and even luckier that we will be spending a Shabbat there!
We arrived at Beit Govrein to realize that we were travelling back 2000 years in history in order to see the lives of the Jews under Roman rule. As I entered the Roman amphitheater, which was built after the Bar Kochba revolt, I felt as if I was being transported into an entirely different era. This amphitheater was used as an entertainment facility to watch gladiatorial combats against wild beasts. Seeing this amphitheater with my own eyes really took me back in time, and I thought it was absolutely amazing that a site like this can still be semi-intact today.
We then travelled further back in time to the Greek rule, which was 2200 years ago. We travelled to the city called Maresha, where we stood in a place that had once been thriving with culture. Jonty explained to us that some years ago, archeologists had discovered an underground warren in this place; there were shopping centers, water cisterns and houses. We were led through caves that exposed to us the magnificence of the underground city. As we walked through the caves, each room was more interesting, detailed and fascinating than the last. It was so incredible to be standing in a place where a community stood and thrived some 2200 years ago. In one of the rooms, we noticed many small square shaped holes that were covering the walls. After inquiring about them, we were told that these were in fact pigeonholes, which were used for communication with external sources. We then walked to the final room- the oil press. Archeologists believe that the oil industry was their main source of income. It was such an incredible experience to be surrounded with so much raw history.
After the amazing tour of underground Maresha we went to a more modern day shopping center where we walked around and bought our pre-Shabbos goodies. We then drove back to Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, and were given a few hours of free time to get ready for our second last Shabbat on this incredible and inspirational journey.
Just as Joseph, after 22 years, was able to reunite with his family in this week’s Parasha, we too will be able to reunite with our families in just over one week. I'm deeply saddened that this journey is slowly coming to end, but I feel as if I have learnt so much in this short time and I am so grateful that I have been exposed to so much. Shabbat Shalom.