By Jamie Gorson '16
July 15, 2013
After visiting Tzvat, I continued my travels around the country, this time by foot. Israel is a beautiful place to walk and hike, and we certainly made the most of it. Not only do trails cover the entire country, but every week on Shabbat the only mode of transportation is by foot. During this particular weekend, I had the opportunity to experience both the beautiful hiking of Israel and the magical Shabbat experience.
We decided to go to Mitzpe Ramon, a small city in the middle of the desert to see the Mahtesh. There is no exact translation to English, but the closest word is crater. Ranya (Clark U '16), Max (Northeastern U '16) and I arrived in the Negev just in time to get settled, grab some food and climb to a lookout for the sunset. When we reached the top of the lookout, the wind (literally) swept me off my feet as I looked out over the crater. The expansive area it covered was breathtaking. The natural formations had a beautiful effect on the land, making the view entrancing. We sat on the lookout, wind blowing in our face, preparing for our big hike the next day.
We rose before the sun, climbing out of bed and into the dark expanse. We started our hike by walking across the cliff of the crater. The sun rose down the side of the crater. Along the way we passed ibex. Ibex are related to a goat but look like a ram and are the size of a deer. We made sure to stay clear because we didn't want to get in the way of two male ibex first thing in the morning.
We then descended into the crater. When we reached the bottom the expansiveness was incredible. We truly felt by ourselves. Every way we looked there was not a building or another person. I felt like I was going back to my roots, being in the desert and walking through the sun. 4 hours later, we emerged from the crater, sweating from having climbed all the way out. We revived ourselves with a shower and breakfast before climbing onto a bus to Jerusalem.
I had the wonderful opportunity that weekend to experience the other cultures in Jerusalem. I walked through the Muslim, Christian and Armenian quarters. The most incredible experience, though, was walking through the streets of Jerusalem on Shabbat. Before Shabbat the streets are loud and busy, with cars flashing by and people racing on and off the light rail, but once Shabbat comes in, there are so few cars that you can walk in the middle of the street. It is kind of eerie at first, but also special that the Jewish culture is so embraced. Overall, it was an exhausting weekend full of walking, but very fun, adventurous and exciting as well.