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Israel 2022 – Day 5-6: Ava Gross & Anna Belle Shapiro

On Sunday morning, all woke up early and had a nice Tefillah with Hallel for Rosh Chodesh. It was definitely different without bucket drumming!

We loaded the bus early and went to the beautiful Baha’i gardens and learned about the Baha’i religion, which is the newest monotheistic religion in the world. As we were about to leave, an ice cream truck driver spotted us, so even though it was only about 10:00, a lot of us got an ice cream, because they have so many flavors that we don’t have back home.

When we got back on the bus, we drove to an archeological dig in Marahsa, the place that Harod built. We found a lot of rocks and dirt, and some people in Gavi’s group found the base of a cup that was still intact. The site guide said there was fossilized food in it, which was so cool all these years later. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to keep what we found because it had to be cataloged and saved. We still got to take home some ancient pottery pieces from the time of Chanukah. Not only did we dig there, but we also went spelunking, which is the official name for a cave walk. Walk might not be the exact right word because sometimes we were bear crawling; we were definitely glad to have done that in gym class with Coach Alex and Coach Zach.

Afterwards, we were starving, so we took a pit stop at a grocery store and had an opportunity to buy snacks to prepare for Monday since we knew it was going to be a busy day. They had an Aroma (kind of like Israeli Starbucks) at the shopping plaza, so a lot of us used some of that time to get an iced coffee. In Israel, iced coffee is kind of like a coffee slushie or Frappuccino, but better.

Once we’d all shopped and caffeinated, we drove to the Bedouin tents. Since it’s only a one night stay and we’re sleeping in a tent, we only had a small change of clothes and toiletries with us. Not schlepping the big suitcases was nice, but a little stressful because if we forgot something, we were out of luck! We had a little bit of a different experience at the tents, because many of the people who run the site are Muslim, and Sunday night was the end of their biggest holiday. Before we could do anything, we ate dinner, which is served on the floor so you sit on cushions around a table. Because of the Muslim holiday and their workers who were observing it, we didn’t get to ride camels, which was a bummer. Although we couldn’t ride them, we got to go to the camel pen and feed them. A few camels were a little greedy and grabbed the trays out of our hands. There were even a few who decided that it was a good idea to try to eat people’s hair, so we had to be careful when taking pictures. Finally, we gathered around a campfire and Adva played guitar as we sang and roasted marshmallows.

On Monday morning, we woke up really early at the Bedouin tents and drove to Masada. We hiked up the mountain on the Roman path to do Tefillah. It’s a lot of stairs, but the view is worth it! After Tefillah, Yoav showed us some sites at the mountain. We saw a group of mountains that gave a huge echo when we yelled. We also saw a cistern and some other sites that Yoav told us about the story of Herod and Masada. Though we wanted to hike down the Snake Path, but during certain seasons, the path closes on the earlier side because of the heat. Luckily, that meant that we ended up going in the cable car. It was not only a very cool way to see the views of Masada, but also kept us much, much cooler in the heat.

When we got down, we all bought some ice cream to cool off. We ran into Rotem, a friend from the Schechter staff and our second Schechter-in-Israel coincidence! We managed to snap a quick picture with Rotem and then we took a long bus ride to the Dead Sea and had lunch.

We all had fun floating around and putting the mud all over us. Luckily, no one thought the water stung too much, so we were able to float for a while. After we swam there, some of us went into the pool and some people bought snacks. We then headed south to a kibbutz called Mahabe Sadeh. We claimed our beds and then headed to the courtyard where we had an ice cream sundae bar to celebrate all four of the birthdays that have / will happen during the trip.

Are you exhausted from reading about all that we did? We are, but we’re having too much fun to care!