It was our last day of full-blown adventure here in Israel, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. At 4:30 a.m., we began our ascent up the Roman Path to the ancient citadel of Masada. It was here in the Judean Desert that King Herod the Great erected his luxurious fortress. And it was here that a group of desperate Jews fought the Romans and then committed mass suicide so they could die free rather than face capture and slavery by their pagan conquerors.
We made the steep climb in the pre-dawn hours and then ascended to a stone platform in the ruins to watch the unforgettable sunrise projecting a haze across the receding blue waters of the Dead Sea. We then held our morning tefillah together—a long way from the Ulam K’lalee at CDS, but the connection was palpable (if you missed the live stream on Facebook, you can catch the recording here).
We learned how fresh water was carried to the fortress and explored food storage rooms. We saw the ruins of a mikvah and discussed how it provides evidence that the Jews came to Masada to live, not to die. We held our own tikkun for their actions by sharing positive things we’ve learned about our friends during the Israel trip. We also each carried with us a small rock from the bottom of an ancient cistern to take home to Pittsburgh, with the promise that we return it one day to our home in Israel.
Our descent was along the winding and rocky Snake Path, and all of us felt a huge sense of accomplishment after successfully zigzagging our way down from the plateau in the intense heat. It took us about 40 minutes to come down the path–you can watch us here in less than a minute. From Masada, we headed to a nearby resort for a float in the Dead Sea, some fun in the mineral-rich black mud, and a refreshing dip in the pool.
The action-packed day continued as we made our way to Tel Aviv, where we spent an hour buying last-minute gifts, getting properly caffeinated with ice cafe, and soaking up the atmosphere in the one-of-a-kind Shuk HaCarmel. Then we took a dip in the Mediterranean Sea near our hotel in Jaffa to end an adventure-filled day…one mountain and two seas in less than 12 hours–not bad for a day’s work–and play!