Phoenix community Birthright trip: Caves and camels

Omer Falach and Ean Wilk ride camels. Photos courtesy of Erin Searle

Omer Falach and Ean Wilk ride camels.
Photos courtesy of Erin Searle

The Phoenix Community Taglit-Birthright Israel group left for Israel this week. Erin Searle, director of NOWGen Programs for the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix and the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, is leading the 10-day trip for 40 young adults and is reporting from Israel.

Tuesday/July 13

On Tuesday we arrived in Israel around 5:30 a.m. local time after approximately 30ish hours of traveling. Everyone was excited (and tired) to finally arrive in Israel and eager to learn what was on tap for our first day. We left the airport and our first stop was a little forest where we had welcome introductions and a get-to-know-each-other activity. From there, we drove and stopped to refuel our bodies with some snacks and caffeine.

We headed on to the Beit Guvrin Caves where we explored three separate caves. One was used to make olive oil, and one was made for pigeons to nest in. After the caves, we went for lunch where some tried shawarma or falafel for the first time. From lunch, we drove to the Salad Trail, a working farm in the middle of the desert.

Participants in the fourth annual Phoenix community Taglit-Birthright Israel trip visit The Salad Trail, an organic farm in the Negev.

Participants in the fourth annual Phoenix community Taglit-Birthright Israel trip visit The Salad Trail, an organic farm in the Negev. There are 40 participants on this year’s trip and for five days of the trip, they are joined by eight Israelis, seven who are in the army and one in university.

Participants were able to pick fresh carrots and fresh herbs. They also tasted strawberries, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. Our guide introduced the group to different herbs and everyone got some dough to make a little pita bread which they ate with olive oil and zatar. Our first day was fun and everyone was excited to get to Kibbutz Kramim, where we stayed for the night.

Wednesday/July 14

We woke up Wednesday morning and left Kibbutz Kramim and headed to our first hike near Sde Boker, the final resting place of David Ben Gurion. We did a desert hike, that included seeing a tiny waterfall in the desert, before continuing on to see where Ben Gurion was buried and learn a little about him and his vision to see the desert bloom.

In the afternoon we headed to the Bedouin Tents. We started with camel and donkey riding and then participated in an ecological presentation and activity. After a traditional style Bedouin dinner, we had an old-fashioned campfire with singing and s’mores. After a brief sleep, we woke up at 4 a.m. to leave so we could hike Masada in time for sunrise. After touring Masada and hiking back down, we went to Ein Gedi, and then the Dead Sea. We then had a long drive north to Tiberias where we are staying the next few nights.

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