#CamelRide

So much has happened (without Wi-Fi access) in the last 48 hours that it’s been like drinking from the CDS Class of 2018 Israel Trip firehose. Now that we’ve landed comfortably in our hotel in Tverya, we will try to catch you up …

In what seems like days ago, we began yesterday at Tel Maresha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in an area known as the “Land of a Thousand Caves,” where we got our hands dirty as amateur archeologists. The man-made chalk caves at Maresha were used for quarries, burial grounds, animal shelters, workshops, and spaces for raising pigeons. We learned that ancient inscriptions discovered at the site provide archeological credibility for the story of Hanukkah and the Second Book of Maccabees. Sof haderech!

While digging and sifting through rock and dirt in the caves, Talia found large shards of pottery (perhaps used by Judah Maccabee himself!), and Mayan, Dori, and Nadav began unearthing what might be the entrance to an entirely new cave.

After all that digging, we had to haul our archeological finds, along with the heavy buckets of clay and rocks, back to the surface. That took some serious CDS Class of 2018 teamwork, which you can experience in just 41 seconds below. Don’t forget to turn up your volume for the full effect.

Then came the job of sifting to separate the archeological treasure from the trash …

After all this hard work, we were rewarded with a cave crawl in what at least 9 out of 10 CDS 8th graders rate as one of the top three Israel trip experiences so far. Eitan brought his disco laser pointer and beat-box skills to the underground party …

We then made a stop at an IDF base, where we met soldiers (including a lone soldier from New Jersey), learned about their daily lives, beliefs, and work, and watched a target practice demonstration. Some of us shared handwritten thank-you notes, and we also brought them cold drinks and treats to enjoy on the hot desert afternoon.

At last it was on to Kfar Hanokdim, for our long-awaited camel ride and night spent sleeping Bedouin tents in the Judean desert. As we boarded our camels, the setting sun was breathtaking over the dramatic mountain landscape, and the evening desert breeze was a welcome respite from the serious heat of the day. Experience it here:

Overheard: What do you name a camel with no hump? Humphrey.

Our Bedouin host Abu Hamzi then invited us to relax around a fire and sip spiced tea, while answering our questions about desert life and culture and sharing many interesting facts. Ask any CDS Class of 2018 alum how you can inoculate your children against scorpion bites, and they will have the answer!

Later that evening, we enjoyed a traditional Bedouin dinner served on large trays with handmade pita, and after having watched the desert sunset just a short while ago, we were blessed to see a full moon rise–too sublime for words! The evening ended with a bonfire complete with singing thanks to Gali’s guitar … and then it was early to bed in anticipation of our 4 a.m. wake-up call to climb Masada.

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