Day Eight: Boulders, Beets, Bonfire, Beach

23 Jun

Today we find ourselves leaving the Kibbutz. Far from the city of Jerusalem and its bustling cityscape, the Kibbutz has served us well as a small, natural paradise, quiet but lively, built up but one with nature. After a short ride lasting no longer than 10 to 15 minutes, we find ourselves arriving to face the formidable Arbel Cliffs. Like all things in Israel, this place holds its own rich tapestry of history built upon layers of time. At the deepest level there was King Herod, who, after coming back after three years in exile in Rome, came back a king, a puppet of the Roman Empire. It was the very cliffs we walked that the last of the rebellions against the Roman Empire quelled, with much equipment to their persons, the ancient Romans would have much trouble navigating these great cliffs had it not been for Herod’s sensible idea to send the soldiers down from the top of the mountain into the caves. Neta, our tour guide, had told us an anecdote about a man who had taken his family up to these caves and rather than fall to Roman hands, had taken himself and his family to the edge of the cliffs and leapt in a leap of faith. Years above this we have the Crusaders and their first kingdom. While tense, the Arabs and the Crusaders managed to coexist together. When the second to last Crusader king died – a leper, though a well-respected man – another stepped up to take his place, a ruler who had a great disdain for the Arabs. Calling upon a kingdom troublemaker, this last ruler had him start a war with the Arabs, having him kill the Arab kingdom ruler’s sister. After a great war between the two kingdoms, these two warring factions, the Arabs came out victorious.
Each sad end, though, is a new beginning. Originally we had a tour guide by the name of Amittai, who, in having fallen sick, prompted us to get a new guide, Natalie. We had spent six wonderful days with her, even sharing in her birthday and getting to meet her husband of now three years. Neta is good though, coming with us to experience the picking of beets, of which many corny puns have been made, whose sweet juices will be tasted by the poor and needy throughout Israel as part of an organization that takes still good leftovers from farms and restaurants. It was a short experience but like any that helps those who deserve it, you couldn’t help but leave satisfied with having done such a thing. It leaves us off for lunch. It is a lovely lunch at another Kibbutz, though not unlike the food we’ve already come to enjoy. Upon parting with our meal and having extra time to kill, we played a game outside, taught to us by our new tour guide for the day, a game based on shooters of the American west. Having suffered enough, time took us forward to the city hall of Kiryat Yam. Here we met our hosts and the mayor of the tiny island land, who had made an appearance after a short clip introducing us to the city was shown, along with a hat and t-shirt for each of us, both bearing the name of Kiryat Yam. We returned to our hosts’ homes, a bit tired and worn from such a day’s events. In truth, rest came for only a moment, for next we will find ourselves at the beach to get to know the other hosts and enjoy food and bonfire. Most staying late into the twilight hours of this night shall likely find the morn.

-Andrew Wolfson, Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors 2013

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