Who knew Masada could be so hard on your thighs? Well I sure didn't! Each step I took up the rocky, steep Masada killed. It was around 9:30 in the morning, deep in the Negev. Despite it being very chilly outside, as I was walking up Masada, I was sweating so much that I didn't even realize it. Talya and I were behind the rest of our class, which was about five minutes up the mountain from us. Climbing Masada made me realize the climb was the easiest part of Masada, and well of Judaism. The hardest part was ignoring the temptations of sitting down or drinking water. Similarly in Judaism the hardest part is ignoring the temptations of the modern world.
We woke up very early at 9:30 in the morning and had breakfast at the Masada Guest House. We then proceeded to hike towards Masada, and then eventually, we were at Masada. It was very cold. I remember asking myself how could I ever scale Masada in this weather! As I took my first step I was overwhelmed with pride. I felt like I could do it easily. I was wrong. About 3 minutes in I fell behind my friends. I watched them continue their gossip without me. They were walking so normally, not even flinching, while I was struggling to keep myself walking at a normal pace. I found myself talking with Talya. I remember I could hear the wind as I got higher and higher up Masada. It was almost like I could feel the wind dancing around me, and at the same moment cooling me down. I refused to drink water while going up Masada because I felt it was immodest. I wanted to experience the full climb, without any help whatsoever. I could feel the sweat trickling down my head, but at the same time I couldn't feel it. It was like I was aware, but I wasn't. Those of you who have climbed Masada will know what I mean. Every step I took brought great pain to my body, but I knew I had to keep on going; I couldn't give in to the temptation, I had to keep a steady pace. So I decided to run ahead of my group, and then in less than 5 minutes, I was ahead and on my own. It felt so liberating, running up Masada.
Running up Masada, and not giving into the temptations of sitting down, or drinking water really changed me. It let me know that I had the stuff in me. I thought to myself whenever I saw a nice looking rock to collapse on, "I can do this. This is nothing to what the Jews during the Holocaust had to suffer through." Since I am currently studying the Holocaust in Humanities with Ms. Novick, that statement I made was very powerful for me. I decided that I was going to do this climb for me, and also for the Jews who suffered through the Holocaust. I had to not think about the burning pain that I endured after each unbearable step that I took.
I feel that in our school we are very much sheltered. All we know is the Israel we are taught about in class. All we know is the Judaism we are taught in our class. But once you travel to Israel, the way you look about Israel and Judaism changes drastically. Israel becomes so much more than Israel. Israel becomes spiritual, and almost like a language. You have to learn it, speak it and you have to use it. And Judaism doesn't feel Jewish, it feels like history, unlike in America, where it is branded Jewish. In Israel it is easier to resist the temptations that are put in front of you. I was always one to ask why Israel was so important, and I always use to say that America is our home, but Israel is our home. I was not able to understand what that meant fully until I traveled to Israel. What I mean by this is that the meaning of the word home changes drastically once you travel to Israel. For instance, I have 3 homes; America, Israel, and Cambodia. When you travel to Israel you understand fully what home means, and you open your heart to Israel and really accept it as your home.
By Gabe, 8th Grader