|Palace on Mount Masade. Image found here.|
This is how the story goes: The Jews knew that the Romans were coming and that they would not be able to escape from the mountain. So the community members decided (with the suggestion from the rabbi) that they should take fate into their own hands and kill themselves. Eleven men were chosen to kill the other Jews and then themselves. BUT there are two problems with this story:
1. If everyone was killed, how do we know about this story? The Romans wouldn't have known about this discussion about the Jews killing themselves; they would have just found the dead bodies.
2. Only 27 bodies have been found by archaeologists, not 300. So where did they all go?
After hearing about this history, we were given amble time to look around the gift shop. The store had everything: Dead Sea beauty products; jewelry; kitschy souvenirs, etc. After shopping, we headed to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth, and it is quickly disappearing. From the little resort near the sea, the group had to take a shuttle to actually reach the water because the sea had shrunk so much (several hundred feet every year!). The group floated in the water and put the mud on their skin (it supposedly has nutrients in it). Just don't get the water in your eyes! The water is so salty that it stings your eyes, any cuts you have on your skin, and even your lady bits (so some girls on the trip said).
|Our first view of the Dead Sea from our bus. Photo by Taylor Arion.|
|This is my friend Jocelyn floating in the Dead Sea.|
|The group getting into the Dead Sea mud. Photo by Taylor Arion.|
|Fish for sale at the market. Photo by Jocelyn Rubin.|
We then went to the Caesar Hotel, which was quite nice. Our first activity at the hotel was a discussion about the conflicts between Israel and Palestine and with the rest of the Arab world (presented by the Middle East Learning Academy). I did not learn any of this history in school, so I found it very interesting. Israel started off as the under-dog when it was a new country, but over the years it has been viewed as a bully, a country with a very strong army killing innocent bystanders, etc. The presenter, Iftach Burman, addressed both sides of the issue, which I thought was very important; he was also funny and had us give each other back-rubs so we would stay awake during his talk. We could have continued the discussion for hours, but we had to head to dinner in the hotel. This buffet actually mixed things up and served things like lasagna and other pasta dishes. The dessert bar was also very good, especially a yummy dessert cup that tasted like a piña colada!
After dinner we had another group activity, mainly to discuss changes to the schedule (a later breakfast, for one). The small sub-group of us met to discuss our readings for our trip to Mount Herzl, and I kept thinking how I hoped my reading of the poem would do the poet and the fallen soldiers justice.