After 10 long and fun days traveling the holy land, I am back at Kibbutz Tzuba. In these ten days I woke up at 3am to climb Masada, hiked at Ein Gedi, relaxed at the Dead Sea, spent 5 days in the Israeli Army, and had some beach time in Eilat. After this long journey, we have already returned to our regular school days.
First, was Masada. After a bus ride at 3am, we arrived at the base of Masada, where we could only barely see the outline of the mountain we were about to climb. As we started our ascend, the sun slowly began to peak from the mountain in Jordan and we could see the Dead Sea. After a long hike up the “snake path,” we made it just in time to the top for the sunrise. It was truly an amazing experience. But this would not be enough for our group. It was 7am and we had already hiked a mountain, and we still had a Jewish History class ahead of us. This history class was one of my favorites so far. At the end of the trip, we all stood at one end of the mountain, with the desert surrounding us, and all screamed “Am Yisrael Chi” (the people of Israel live). Our voices echoed throughout the desert. It was another very powerful experience. We had a very steep hike down Masada, then a couple minute walk to the Masada Youth Hostel. We were all very excited to have lunch, as we already had had a very long day. After lunch we went repelling down a 50-foot mountain (picture to come soon). We finally had time to relax and shower back at the hostel. The next day, we woke up for a hike at Ein Gedi. It was alongside a stream and lead to a waterfall. Once we reached the waterfall, we all had the opportunity to swim in it. It was a great bonding experience for us all. We then had a relaxing Shabbat.
On Saturday afternoon, we were on our way to the Bedouin tents. The Bedouins are a nomadic people that live in tents and have a large value on hospitality. We had an amazing dinner, sitting on the floor together, with large plates for everyone to share. It was a great last dinner before going to the army. For the rest of the night we just hung out, had a campfire, showered, etc. That night, we slept in a large tent with mattresses on the ground. The next morning we learned about the Bedouin culture and rode camels! My friend Gali and I named our camel Marsha and we had a fun ride. After that, we loaded the buses and headed to Sde Boker (the army base).
The bus ride was filled with many anxious teenagers that didn’t know what to do with their “last few moments of freedom.” As we pulled up to the army base, the bus driver started playing “You’re Going to the Army” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” on the bus stereo. During the songs, my friend and I made a video showing how happy and excited we were on this bus so we could look at it during Gadna. As we got off the bus, we immediately were taken to our Mamem (the commander of the entire group). She gave us a little introduction, and then we split into our Tzevets (groups) and met of Mefakedet (commander). Over five long days, we ran almost everywhere, slept in tents, ate not the most appetizing meals, bonded with our tzevet, stood in many “chets” (a Hebrew letter that is a formation in the army), did many pushups, learned how to run from a grenade, how the Israeli army works, how to hold and shoot a M-16, Kravmaga (Israeli self-defense method), and much more. I loved having this experience even though it was hard at times. At the end of Gadna, we talked to our commanders and they told us their names, ages, etc. My commander’s name was Tirtza and was only nineteen years old! I have a lot of respect for all the Israelis in the army especially after being in the army for just five days.
After leaving the army base, we had a long bus ride to Eilat. Eilat is in the south of Israel and is on the Red Sea. While in Eilat, we snorkeled, relaxed on the beach, walked and shopped on the board walk, etc. It was very nice to relax after non-stop days in the army. We returned to Kibbutz Tzuba around 10:30 that night, got new roommates, and unpacked our stuff. The next day we returned to our normal schedule.
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