OJC Israel Experience: Lessons of the Desert


Micah blew shofar to begin our day.

Looking out over the amazing Makhtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater), eight year old Micah Fox blew his new shofar with perfect pitch and rhythm. Zalman (our guide) read to us from The Little Prince:
One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams… “What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well.”
And so began a day of desert exploration: political, spiritual, physical and emotional. At Sde Boker we learned about the vision David Ben Gurion had about the future of Israel; that the settlement of the Negev was the most important national, security and economical mission.
We hiked along the canyon bed and up the side of the cliffs at Ein Avdat. Members of the group hiked according to their level of comfort. Regardless of who decided to hike up the stairs and ladders, all were inspired by our almost nonagenarian, Marvin Shapiro, who hiked to the very top. Ice cream was everyone’s reward!
In the town of Yerucham, we were welcomed into the home of Jo Jo and Mazal for a delicious lunch and Jo Jo’s family history of aliya in the 50s from Tunisia. Our afternoon concluded with text study about why the Torah was given in the desert. Like all Jewish questions, they were many answers! Meet me at the OJC in about five months when we begin reading the book of Bamidbar on Shabbat mornings; I promise to share the answers that we developed at the shore of Yerucham Lake on the edge of the desert.
I feel so blessed to have been welcomed lovingly into a group that has been traveling already together for almost a week. As we are about to light candles for the third night of Chanukah, we will all be thinking about Rabbi and Nancy Scheff. Earlier today in Florida, Rabbi Scheff officiated at the funeral of his beloved Aunt Debbie. May the entire family find comfort in being together and sharing beautiful memories.
Kol tuv from the edge of the desert,
Rabbi Paula Mack Drill

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