While this is only my fifth trip to Israel, it has easily been the coolest and rainiest. (Is rainiest a word? It fits!)
Nobody here remembers a spring with so much rain, and the weather remains unseasonably cool. The day after Shabbat, the forecast was for more rain and very cool temperatures, so we decided to spend the day at the Israel Museum, near the Knesset. As we left the moshav, it was raining and hailing. Everyone in Israel must have had the same idea, because the museum was packed!! We wandered through the archeology gallery and then sprinted through the rain to the Scroll of the Book exhibit. This is a specially designed gallery, erected in 1965 to house the study center for the Dead Sea Scrolls. The exhibits, fragments and Isaiah scroll (facsimile on display) were very interesting.
We ate lunch in the museum restaurant, surprisingly, not crowded, before continuing for a couple more hours exploring the mammoth museum. One could easily spend days and not see/hear/read everything.
The evening began our counting of the omer, and Pieter brought out a large sheet we could use each night as well as a smaller copy for each of us to take home. The images of wheat and the weekly sheaves were taken directly from his drawing for little Yosef, our Mascot. (See images in the gallery.) We enjoyed some great discussion and worship related to the omer.
Having had enough of the cool wet weather, we decided that Monday we would escape south to the Dead Sea and hope for a swim. Kelly’s goal when we first came to the Land was to put her feet in every body of water. The first trip, several years ago, we checked off the Jordan, Kinerret and the Mediterranean. So, with a goal in mind, swimming… we headed south on 90 fairly early in the morning. By about 10:30 we were in a small resort town south of Masada and sitting in an Aromas to be sure the Dutch contingency stayed coffee-ed up. (Side note: I love these guys and we have a ball together, but midmorning the second day of trash pickup they all disappeared. I asked and found out that they ‘had to have their morning coffee break.’ LOL!!)
After coffee, we headed for a relatively deserted public beach in rapidly rising temperatures. The water seemed cool when first stepping in, but a few seconds reclining in the amazing buoyancy and everything felt absolutely perfect. An older native couple assured us that in a week or two the Sea would warm to tepid bath water and the whole experience would be less fun. Abba’s timing is perfect and so was the day.
Today has easily been one of the high points of this trip.
A couple years ago, I read a neat article in Breaking Israel News about Jenna Lewinsky and her saga to repatriate a flock of Jacob’s Sheep from Central Canada. From that time on, I wanted to meet Jenna, hear more of the amazing story and see the sheep. Today, we finally had the opportunity, though it was not without adventure.
We had an address in Efrat and plugged into Waze. Easy, right? Not so fast my friends… Four cars, in a Pink Panther-esque chase through Jerusalem, down past Bethlehem and then a couple double backs through multiple traffic circles only to stand at a locked gate for half hour before figuring out we were in the wrong place. Two phone calls, an attempt at describing our location, getting some clarification, then all mounting up and performing the same crazy dance through Efrat to meet Isaac Jacobs waving from an oncoming car and then leading us to the correct gate. I had to quip that he was gathering the lost sheep of the house of Israel…
He led us out a back gate and through winding dirt roads deep into the heart of the steep hillsides that David once walked. Beautiful scenery. Lush, green, and remote!
Jenna met us as we pulled in front of the barn and after we had gathered, she began to relate the story of Jacob’s Sheep. Truly a long and winding story with many clear actions by Abba to bring the Sheep home, it is one you must come and hear in person, preferably while holding one of the darling docile lambs.
What we found equally fascinating is the location where she has landed and is now getting established. As you can see from the pictures in the gallery, part of Herod’s aquaduct system runs through the property and we climbed into and walked a section. Jenna also led us to a couple of high overlooks with views all the way to Jerusalem. Stunning!!
As we prepared to leave, she shared her desire to offer free camping for any who wish to Sukkot on the site. While a distance from electricity, there is water available and a planned vegan kitchen in a shipping container. Transportation to/from the site would be a ‘must’, but other costs would be minimal, though I would recommend a nice donation to the Jacob’s Sheep Project. Contact Jenna at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a visit while in Israel or possibly to camp over Sukkot. For those interested, I am sure she would appreciate a day or two of donated labor to the little farm.
After our visit to Jacob’s Sheep, our caravan drove back into Efrat to search for a shwarma stand. Picture again the Pink Panther with the four of us at one point circling a round about and tying the whole thing up… We found the stand, but it was closed. We decided to raid the grocery store next door and get picnic fixings, then Marie led us back through town to a park high on a hill. How she spotted the entrance in our previous trips through town, I have no idea, but… it happened. We lay our spread out on a table then dug in.
While eating, I noticed trash…. You guessed it. After lunch we pulled the trash bags out of the trunk and began collecting garbage until we had a nice little pile of filled bags which Marie hauled to a dumpster. Honestly, there is so much joy in cleaning the Land.
From Efrat, we split up for the balance of the late afternoon and as I type, the crew is coming in the door to the house in Giv’at Ye’arim. Tired, but happy…
Join us for Sukkot 2019! We’ll be back here to celebrate the feast, pick up trash and see what new adventure the Land has for us.