We were out of the hotel at 7:30 this morning and off retracing part of our route from yesterday. Nadav did some teaching about the status of different Arabs in Israel - Israelis, West Bank, and the special status for East Jerusalem. Then as we headed down along the Dead Sea he taught about the geology and environment, especially about the reasons the water level in northern Dead Sea is getting lower by 5 feet (maybe it was meters?) a year. Where the sea is shallow, that can mean losing dozens of meters of shoreline. This has been clear on all my trips to Israel, as the locations in norther Dead Sea from which one can go "swim" in the water add more paved road and trams down to reach the water from the changing rooms close to the main road.
We arrived at Masada before most of the groups for the day allowing us to tour with a bit less of the crowds. There were birthright groups from the U.S. plus foreign groups and small family tours. Yes, it was hot. Over 90 degrees. Luckily it was not only dry but also there was a breeze.
had been there many times, Nadav always has something new to teach. He read to us from Josephus and covered the period of the Zealots on Masada, then took us back to understand more about Herod and how he built up and used Masada in his time over 60 years before that. The group was in good spirits considering the heat. We had a bonus as well - there is a sofer that sits in a covered room just off of the synagogue excavation. He was in the middle of writing a Torah page from Mishpatim but he took a minute to write out each person's Hebrew name on a scrap of parchment. His job up there (and he has air conditioning unit in his little cubicle) is to watch over the Torah that they now keep on Masada to use at Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies. We used to have to carry a Torah up for this. Much better system now.
We came down on the cable car and there was Avi waiting for us to drive down to Hod Hamidbar hotel and spa in lower part of Dead Sea. WE had arranged to go to Dead Sea and swimming
pool here, including lunch. Since I've done that before, I took advantage of the free time to sit and work on the first half of the blog for today. Lunch will be open in a few minutes and then we'll leave around 2:30 pm and hopefully be back at hotel by 4:30, but the traffic to Jerusalem is supposed to be impossible because of Yom Yerushalayim. We'll do our best! I invited the group up to my terrace to watch some of the parade which might come past our hotel, then we'll take taxis up to my friend Maureen's house in Nachlaot for a musical evening.
That's all for now. Part two later!
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