Trudging up the side of Massada at daybreak, pounding hearts, panting breath, bodies awaken and souls are alive. At the top, I take a refreshing swig of cool water fresh from the Golan Heights, where we visited the previous day, and it courses through my system, rejuvenating me. And I take in the hungry eyes facing me, expectantly. All traces of exhaustion from the previous night’s disco party fell away as they treked up, determined as their ancestors. They now starve not just for the Bedouin breakfast awaiting us at the tent below, but for the finery on which it is served: the land of our people; our proud heritage that connects us with the past; and which holds the key to our future. As their educator, it is a priceless merit to watch participants gradually shed their foreign skins, their school hats and frat shirts, as every pore is exposed, then slathered in mud, welcoming the richness of our land as thousands of years of cultivation penetrate at long last. They return home, skin softened, toned and tanned; a new shirt; hearts afire. And they step up to claim their birthright.
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