“In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” David Ben Gurion
Our early day began with an exciting and bumpy Jeep tour through Mitzpeh Ramon, a town in the Negev Desert of southern Israel. This area overlooks a massive erosion known as a makhtesh, similar to a crater. Makhtesh Ramon contains a wide variety of diverse rocks in beautiful red and yellow shades. Standing in the middle of the largest makhtesh, breathing in the air, touching the incredible flora that is growing in the middle of desert, and looking at the amazing 360 degree views will forever remain a picture in my mind.
After a delicious lunch at a café in the city center of Mitzeh Ramon, we packed an overnight bag to stay at the “Classic Desert Inn”. Our entire delegation and our Israeli family stayed in a large mud hut surrounded by a variety of animals including sheep, monkeys, horses, and llamas. This was an incredible bonding experience for our group….and certainly sleeping that night in a mud hut was very different than a night in a luxurious Vegas hotel!
Our Shabbat began with visiting the neighboring religious community of Retamim. This rapidly growing orthodox community full of young children was very welcoming to us. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting community members to learn more about their lives and community and had the opportunity to have kabbalat Shabbat in the community.
Following Friday evening services, we enjoyed a delicious Shabbat dinner at the kibbutz Revivim dining hall. Dinner conversations mainly involved learning more about what it means to be a member of a kibbutz and about life living in a dedicated community. Following dinner, we enjoyed a wonderful evening at the local kibbutz pub! Overall, spending our Shabbat in the Negev was an eye opening and incredible experience that I will never forget!