Friday, November 18
Today was our Golan Heights field trip. We started off by visiting Gamla, which is a big fortified city that was one of the last Galilean cities the Romans besieged and destroyed during the First Jewish Revolt. Basically, it’s a big mountain sticking up in the middle of a valley with a lot of ruins on the top of it. The really fun part about this site though was the hike to it. Like I’ve mentioned before, the area has experienced some precipitation, so it was SO MUDDY. We basically just slid down one side of the valley and slipped our way up the hillside of the city. To say it got a little messy would be an understatement. But the ruins were pretty cool once you got there. Michael Sean even dug and found some roman glass! After Gamla we went to Katsrin, which is an old Talmudic village (meaning it was established during the period when the Talmud was being written and compiled in this region). There was a nice synagogue and reconstructed houses, but the best part was probably the cheesy film we got to watch about the Sanhedrin. Let me just say that we’ve been lucky enough to view some of Israel’s finest touristic videos, and it has been fantastic. This was definitely one of the best ones: made in the 90s, featuring kids with braces, striped sweaters and leggings, dubbed in English, and some felt-figure animation thrown in. What could be better than that. In addition to all these wonderful features, the story it told was actually pretty interesting. It talked about how there was a member of the Sanhedrin who received revelation from God, but the other members of the council were convinced that revelation ended with Moses on Mount Sinai. So, the film chronicled the Rabbi trying to prove (with God’s help) that his revelation was from God. It was interesting to see another religion’s perspective on revelation and whether or not they accept it. The last stop of the day was Kursi, where Jesus cast the devils out of the man Legion, cast them into swine, then the swine ran off the cliff edge. There were some nice ruins of a church there, but we were all pretty tired and ready to head back to the Kibbutz for lunch by that time. Especially since some of us were going on a hike afterwards!
The hike was so fun! We went all through the Golan Heights nature preserve, led by our fearless guide Eric Maltzman. All I can say is I hope that I can be him one day. He is the funniest, little old man! So granola-y with a sweet beard, skinny little legs, big thick glasses, fanny pack, and a quick pace! But he really is so educated, and I really enjoyed his comments as we went along. Especially the brain-teasers that he gave for us to chew on as we hiked along. The Golan Heights are beautiful. It was so nice to just be out in nature, which is something we’ve been doing a lot of here in the Galilee. We saw two waterfalls, the Black Falls and the White Falls. You can probably guess why they’re called that. The most “fun” part of the hike was swimming in the White Falls! I mean, who doesn’t love swimming in a freezing water hole in November? It was seriously so cold, I think my muscles froze a little bit. It was so cold that once you got in the water, you went through a few stages of feeling: sharp knives because of the cold; numbness; then a searing burn. Great, right? No, I’m exaggerating a little bit. But really, it was so cold, but definitely an experience! I’m glad I did it, and I can now say that I’ve swum in a waterfall in the Galilee. My muscles eventually thawed during the remainder of the hike, and I had a good time. I was very excited to get back though and take a nice long, hot shower.