Friday, May 24, 2013

Shabbat Shalom!

We started off the day getting woken up by the sunlight shinning into our tent at about 6 a.m. Sleeping outside was extremely refreshing and the temperature at night was absolutely perfect! We had the pleasure of eating breakfast at the camp before filling up our water, packing up, and heading out for another packed day.
We started off the day getting woken up by the sunlight shinning into our tent at about 6 a.m. Sleeping outside was extremely refreshing and the temperature at night was absolutely perfect! We had the pleasure of eating breakfast at the camp before filling up our water, packing up, and heading out for another packed day.

The first stop we made was Masada, which is a desert mountain that used to be occupied by nearly 1,000 people. The group put out hats on, brought our water, and climbed up the west side towards the top of the mountain. After the 30 minute climb by foot, we got our first sites of the Dead Sea. Our guide, Steve, gave us a tour and historical facts about the village on top of Masada which was fascinating to learn. It was clear that these people were brilliant engineers in the way they designed their mountain for security and water collection. Because of the heat, the snake path that we were supposed to climb down was closed, but fortunately the national park had a cable car that we rode down to the bus on the east side. We later learned that the heat was a record setting day, getting up to 115 F in the shade!

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Before the hike up the west side of Masada

After our hot adventure to the top of Masada, it was time to take a swim in the Dead Sea! The group was very excited not only to cool off, but also experience the famous mud of the sea. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on this planet, located almost 1,300 feet below sea level. Because the water in the Dead Sea is nearly 30% salt, it is extremely easy to float. In fact, we were not even allowed to swim on our stomachs due to the danger of drowning. Everyone stayed safe by swimming on our backs, floating, and giving each other a nice coat of mud.

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View of the Dead Sea from the top of Masada

It was now time to head into Jerusalem for the Shabbat, which is celebrated every Friday at sunset. All the men had to wear hats and the women had to cover up to be respectful. We visited the west wall where thousands of people gathered to pray and celebrate. At one of the gate entries, we met up with a Jewish woman who was kind enough to show us the Shabbat experience and help the group be a part of the religious celebration. After doing some singing, dancing, and getting to touch the wall, she invited us all to her home where a 5 course meal was served. Unfortunately, not many pictures were taken due to the observance of the Shabbat, but the one seen below was taken just before sunset to give a sense of the atmosphere.

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Overall, it was an exhausting day but one we will always remember. Shabbat Shalom!

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