Masada and the Negev with Bus 18

Written by Alexandra Grushkin and edited by Ilan Louie-Cohen

Today we were awoken by our counselors at 3:30AM after a night in the Bedouin tents. Getting out of our sleeping bags was difficult, but excitement was an excellent motivator. We were going to climb up Masada! On the bus ride, we all sang “The Climb” to hype us up for our journey. As we hiked up to the summit, the sun began to rise behind the mountains, painting the sky blue and purple. When we reached the top, all of NFTY watched the sun rise in the distance. We could see the Dead Sea, the mountains and the desert. Then we did T’filah as a group and began to tell the story of Masada. As we explored the ruins, we discussed whether the actions of the Zealots were cowardly or brave, and what we might have done if we were in their situation. Some issues brought up were the resilience of the Jewish people and how we have survived throughout history. We realized that if we had taken the route of the Zealots in the face of all oppression, we would not exist as a people today.

After these thoughtful discussions and explorations, we walked down Masada and got a well-deserved breakfast. Then we got on the bus to go to Kibbutz Yahel to prepare for our next three days camping in the desert. Our preparations included eating lunch, swimming for three hours, and helping load the bus with camping equipment. We also met our guide, Noam, who would educate us and lead us on our hikes in the desert. We piled into the bus to begin our journey to the desert experience. When we arrived, we set up the camp site and took a beautiful evening hike as the sun set. That night we enjoyed a lovely dinner with other NFTY in Israel groups. Our counselor Noa led us in an evening meditation activity afterwards. It allowed some time for reflection and preparation for the desert experience ahead. Noam played guitar and we all sang along as we stargazed before bedtime. This was another opportunity for us to marvel and the vastness of nature and enjoy the beautiful music Noam was sharing with us. We cozied up in our sleeping bags, ready for another amazing day in the desert.

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