Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Joint Travel Days Boston/Haifa: Desert to Tel Aviv- Heroism Day

August 6th
Written by Lexi Scheer
Tuesday, August 6th- Heroism Day

 On Tuesday August 6th at 4 a.m. sounds of 36 teenagers waking up and hurriedly packing could be heard among the camel noises at the Bedouin tents. We had woken up very early in order to see the sunrise from the top of Masada. After quickly downing some biscuits and sipping energizing tea we loaded the bus and started our race against the sun. Our hike was short but tiring and thankfully we reached the top just in time to sit there for a while before the sun rose. We sat admiring the beauty of the mountains, dead sea, and sky all molding into one, and as soon as the first rays of light were glimpsed peaking over the tall mountains music started blasting and the group suddenly felt more energized. Watching the sun rise over Masada with our best friends by our sides was a completely new and amazing experience for many, if not all of us.

 At only 7 a.m. after finishing taking pictures all over the peak of Masada we started our walking tour by our wonderful guide Arava. The ancient landmarks like the old temple still in use, and the beautiful landscape in daylight was breathtaking. We were helped in learning the story of Masada by some ancient figures coming to talk to us and sharing their unique perspective. (Diller fellows dressed up.) First King Herod told us how he was forced into being King and wasn’t accepted by Jews or Romans, therefore becoming paranoid and building Masada as a safehouse and killing his children (Trevor). Next we learned about the Jews who fled from the Romans and hid from them on Masada. We “heard” from the instigator of the famous plan in which the Jews killed themselves instead of being captured and enslaved (Yarden I), and the other side of the story from a woman who saved herself and children from the mass suicide (Julia S.). One of the last places on our tour was an ancient water cistern in which the leader of the day Eytan and Lihi lead in a discussion on who we thought were the heros in the Masada story and if the Jews were right to do what they did. We then yelled messages into the mountains and heard them “speak” (echo) back to us very clearly.

Hiking down the mountain was a much more relaxed task although we were all eager to fill our rumbling stomachs. We rode the bus back to the Bedouins and ate a plentiful breakfast, then it was back on the bus for our final long bus ride. We drove 2 ½ almost silent hours to Tel-Aviv as we all caught up on some much needed sleep. The bus stopped in the heart of Tel-Aviv at an art gallery-market alongside a typical Israeli market. We were let off, given sandwiches for lunch, and allowed to shop for an hour and half.

At 3 we reconvened in front of the markets, boarded the bus, and went to our hotel. We had a little while to freshen up after our 2 days in the desert but had to be in the lobby shortly for our panel with the members of The Parent Circle, an organization for those who have lost loved ones because of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We heard from a Palestinian woman named Moira whose husband was shot in Jerusalem a few years ago, and an Israeli man named Aharon who lost his son in the Second Lebanon War. This panel was eyeopening and showed us a perspective that you don’t see very often.

We barely had any time to debrief from the intense speakers because we were off to a tour of lower Tel-Aviv and Levinsky Park led by Jean-Marc from the JDC. This tour taught us all (Israelis included), a bit about refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. We saw the Bialik-Rogozin School from the outside, and saw sight-proof of issues within the Israeli economy and social classes that we would never have known or been exposed to otherwise. After our tour we went to a building that is used as the local community center and heard 3 Darfur refugees speak of the horrors that they had gone through and the challenges they had to overcome. We broke up into three smaller groups and had a short, more personal question and answer session. We were all sad when the time came to leave because we knew there was so much more to learn from these strong, interesting people.

Back at the hotel Eytan and Lihi wrapped up the day with a discussion of our theme, heroism, what we had learned that day, and who we deemed a hero. I know my definition of a hero changed that day. We gave feedback to our leaders of the day then broke up into Boston-Haifa for our maagal lila, Boston’s maagal was on the beautiful beach of Tel-Aviv. Although this was irrefutably one of the busiest and most educational days it was also one of the most powerful and intense. I’m sure everyone questioned themselves and their beliefs at least once that day but came out a better, stronger leader for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment