Israel Blog—Thursday March 12
We packed up and left the Hotel on the Dead Sea on a rainy morning heading towards Masada where we ascended the fortress by cable car. Every turn of your head brings a new vista that is more spectacular than the last. Pictures just can’t do justice to the incredible desert landscape.
Most of us have heard the story of the Jewish rebels in their last stand against the approaching Romans. This story was largely unknown until early Zionists embraced the message as inspiration for the younger generation. But today Danny, our guide, approached the story from a different perspective. How do we reconcile the many holes in the story—from the unreliable storyteller, to the discrepancies with the archeology and the things we know about Jews who lived on Masada during the Rebellion. Did they really kill themselves? Did the Romans really wait a whole night to attack after finally bridging the wall of the fortress? How does this story really end and does it matter? Is the lesson of Masada really about how to live? Wow.
We were all grateful to have made this trip on a cool day since many of us had experienced the brutal heat of earlier summer visits. The weather allowed for wandering and lingering in comfort.
From Masada we began our ascent to Jerusalem and on the way we stopped to visit with an Ethiopian Jewish woman, Adina, who came to Israel 30 years before. She graciously welcomed us to her home and told her story of walking for days with her family, having been robbed of food and all valuables and spending one year in a refugee camp on the border of Ethiopia and Sudan before they were secretly flown to Israel. An inspiring story of how this cadre of Ethiopian Jews held on to their traditions and always dreamed of returning to Israel. Their story and the Masada story come together in showing the importance of holding on to who you are while staying a part of the larger world.
As the daylight hours came to a close Shlomo, our driver, wound our bus through the streets to Mt. Scopus where we got our first glimpses of Jerusalem where we will spend the next 5 days.