• Hillel at Virginia Tech

Summer '18: Birthright Day 9

When I woke up today, it was still extremely dark inside the Bedouin camp. The sun had yet to come up but we had an early start at 6:00, so I decided to get up and watch the sunrise in the desert. After such a peaceful morning, our group headed over to the less-than-happy Bedouin camels.


I can’t speak for everyone, but certainly loved the creatures. They were cute in a sort of pug way and had loads of personality. One camel moaned out complaints the entire time, while others tried to bite their riders. Camels do not like people. After our brief but fun camel experience, we headed up to the Masada for a grueling hike.

Masada is a set of ancient Israeli-Roman ruins with a tragic past and lies on top of a mountain. Climbing up the mountain was a steep journey, but completely doable. We had a series of discussions about the Masada’s history and the architecture of the site, all the while Matt and Chen gave excellent performances as King Herod and a religious zealot respectively. We learned that the Masada serves as a valuable symbol as one of the few times where the Jewish people fought, and demonstrated the strength of Israel as a modern and ancient nation. The hike down the mountain took roughly and hour and was a brutal but fun experience.

Exhausted and sore, we naturally headed to the next stop for the day: the Dead Sea. If I had one word to describe this place, it would be “pain”. We all slathered ourselves in mud and happily floated in the water, but the salt quickly got to us. If you didn’t know where you had cuts on your body, you sure would know after you got in. The salinity was so high that it was almost impossible to touch to bottom since you would just float to the top. I was a total idiot and tried putting my face in the water. I went blind for 10 minutes while being escorted to a nearby shower for some sweet relief. I had never been more happy to open my eyes and not feel like they were on fire. Despite the pain and the salt, everyone had a wonderful time at the dead sea, some even taking back souvenirs for their families.


By: Ryan Monaco

At this point, I was beaten and tired from the hike, my nose and eyes and mouth were still slightly burning from the Dead Sea, and we had one more short hike to go. Fortunately, it was a blast. The “hike” was more of a brief walk to a natural spring where most of us were able wade around in and relieve ourselves from the physical stress of the day. After rejuvenating our spirits, the day was finally over and we headed to our final hotel for Shabbat services and dinner.

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