Thursday, June 29, 2017
By Gail Gendler
The group was up early to go to Masada before the crowds and heat of the day kicked in. We stopped along the way to ride a camel, yes a camel, which was actually more like a photo opportunity but it was very fun. Then on to Masada, which many of us were very much looking forward to experiencing.
Whether the more traditional Masada story is accurate or not, you cannot help but be impressed that these Jewish zealots survived in those conditions as long as they did. It was 98 degrees at 9 am as we walked amongst the reconstructed rooms, looked at the areas where the Roman camps were still visible and imagined what life was like for the people living there.
The highlight for many was when our small community gathered at the southern edge of the site and yelled in unison into the hills that we Jews have survived and the Romans are gone, and our Hebrew chant echoed back for all to hear.
After lunch, we stopped in an area of the desert overlooking the Dead Sea and hiked for a short distance, where we had a truly transformational experience. We spread ourselves out so we each had our own space. Then we spent five minutes in total silence, gazing into the beautiful horizon of the Dead Sea or the magnificent and rugged Judaean hills and valleys, alone in our thoughts while the heated breeze from above listened into our thoughts and prayers.

The Dead Sea was our next stop, which proved to be very fun as we floated around the beach area, some of us applying the mud masks that are supposed to be good for our skin. Washing the mud off was almost as healing as floating in the water. Many of us went to an excellent dairy/vegetarian restaurant for dinner and enjoyed seeing the shops of Jerusalem in the evening. Another fabulous day and evening shared amongst friends!

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