Fuzzy days start these long journeys. The planning and packing and preparation all preceding our exodus to Israel. Spending the last few days at home with my greatest pleasure....Passover shared with family, friends and the pinnacle of my life....my Jonah, my Miriam and my Logan.
Just days ago we broke matzah together in our home...joined by friends and relatives from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Chicago and Florida ...Jonah reciting the first lines of mah nishtana, playing hide and seek with Jonah and Miriam and watching them build on their initial visual connection with Logan who now looks back at them. The next rung of our DNA ladder is cast and set in place as these first cousins begin their life of decades of interaction which will continue eventually without any interaction with me. My Rachael and my Joshua and my children by marriage versus our DNA Molly and Jennifer will assure that.
But I’m still here now...6000 miles from home finally recovered from our flight and ready to experience this third visit to the magic that is Israel ... the intense emotional weeks of this journey to be shared with part of our village.
On a recent trip we visited sachenhausen...a concentration camp in Germany. Unbeknownst to ANY of us on that humbling day on the sacred ground where Nazis killed and tortured my people, David told us that this is the concentration camp from whence his father had escaped. David, who was born in Israel, but came to the US at age 6 experienced an emotional incision standing where his father had seen and smelled and suffered the unspeakable.
That’s his story to tell and to help him he and Caren asked Glenn and Nancy and Gail and I to join him in the country of his birth. We were honored to share this sacred mission ... for him ... and for us. To experience Israel less like tourists with a daily itinerary but as guests as we all revisit Israel and reconnect with relatives who forged this nation for whom life on this holy land is their reality.
This trip could have been cancelled but for the heroic strength of Caren. A speeding car thru a red light...air bags deployed ... jaws of life engaged ... a cracked pelvis ... days of fear of a blood clot traveling thru her body ... a fractured leg requiring a metal rod to support it ... hospital, rehab facility ... the relief to sleep in her own home ... the determination to recover ... pain, loneliness, overcome by incredible will and strength ... she demonstrated to our village like Gail before her what we are capable of when the shit hits the fan ... like her father in law 74 years before ... she started with ... I am alive ... and miraculously we all walked onto that plane.
You enter Israel when you enter the airport to begin your journey. Flying to Israel on el al is unlike any other journey. Security begins when you are interviewed by these young but highly trained Israelis whose sole focus is to study you to note your level of calm to determine if you are friend or foe...but their background check preceding our arrival determines that. Next, they must be assured that we are carrying nothing that was given from anyone else...explaining the risks of harm if we inadvertently left our luggage unattended at any point.
After a long overnight journey ... walking the insane distances of airports (Caren did get a ride) you meander thru immigration, your luggage appears and then the magical sign with our names...thank you Lisa … planning has benefits ... we drive from Ben Gourion airport across Israel into the miracle that is Jerusalem.
We returned to the Inbal hotel where we stayed 3 years ago but like Israel it is growing vertically and horizontally ... new floors above and pool and restaurants below we are welcomed and wonder or wonders check into our rooms by 10 AM ... again thank you Lisa.
We knew we were arriving during Passover but did not comprehend what that meant. A multitude of observant Jewish families spend the week together in Hotels where Pesach kosher can be experienced. Men in black hats and some with just kippot...women with shoulders and calves and heads covered mixed with high heels and short dressed counterparts. .... boys with Payot (curly sideburns and peeking out tseet and boys with just covered heads running and laughing and connecting perhaps with future spouses but enjoying this week together.
As we observe the observant we experience the joy of celebration of the formation of my tribe. The escape from Egypt is the backbone of our tribe. The matzo, the Seders, the telling of the story is the crucible from which Judaism flows. We experienced it a different way...never has kosher for Passover tasted so good...what would you expect from a people who bloomed the dessert....deserts worth eating.
The energy of these children dressed for services but enjoying their childhood while parents and grandparents qvell and sit while their next generation experiences running and laughing and making memories and forging lifetime relationships.
We spent several hours at the Israeli museum which houses an eclectic combination of ancient artifacts from the Stone Age, ancient Jewish and pre Jewish from the region, but also from other continents all comparing in juxtaposition the development of various cultures. The jewelry and pottery and ancient glass are amazing in how their form and function have been repeated thousands of years later. Other sections include collections from the great artists whose names we have studied.
Rather than list, let me describe it as a walk in a couple of hours thru the development of culture from the Stone Age thru modern time. Thousands of artifacts from thousands of years unearthed to document our human and pre human cultures all over the planet. Humbling.
For dinner we take a speeding cab ride thru the incredible topographic land past monuments and museums and trees trees trees to end up in bucolic like village in a valley so separated from the Jerusalem we have seen and pictured before. Israelis is more than Jews. A difference palpable by their informal dress on Shabbat and activities so different from our hotel lobby.
We end our first day enjoying our dinner in an ancient flour mill enjoying the views and sights and smells and the anticipation of what promises to be not a vacation but an immersion in the unique culture that is Israel.
Bashert...is a Hebrew/Yiddish word which can mean...it was meant to be. Our second full day was like that.
Saturday at the end of Passover as all Shabbats there are very few things to do. Yad Vashem is closed so we planned to go to the tower of David museum. We did not know it was a major Greek Orthodox Easter holiday. The gate into the old city we planned to enter was closed and guarded by Israeli soldiers.
The six of us like lost sheep were trying to find our way for the day and contemplated returning to the hotel to sit by the pool. But...bashert...Antonio appears...(can’t believe that’s his name) and explains why that gate is closed, why there were thousands milling about...buying candles...that they were Christians from Egypt waiting for their priests to enter the tomb of Christ to receive the flame, representing the resurrection of Jesus, which passed from candle to candle and will be taken back to Orthodox churches worldwide.
The ceremony is the holiest event for Orthodox Christianity.
So he offers to take us into the old city via Damascus gate. We quizzically look at each other ... and just followed him. He said he was Christian, born in Jerusalem, was Armenian married to a Jew and had a certain calm demeanor that telegraphed trust. So we did.
We had a spectacular day as he told us stories, led us thru basements and alleys and we learned about life in Jerusalem when he was a child. Rather than lecturing to us he just would impart enough information to explain the history, the location, the legend to pique our interest.
He does get us into the old city...our plans are saved. Suddenly, crowded alleys, international population, vendors in stalls piled high with all manner of products ... like the grand bazaar in Istanbul but more outdoors and the shoppers more international.
The crowds of humanity become more dense...the smells stronger...noise increases...is this a good idea? Where is my wallet? Got it! Where the F are we? Then he rings a bell… We walk up steps into the Austrian hostel. Clean...quiet… Peaceful...bathrooms ... he leads us out to a garden that is above the clatter of the street...we sit among trees in the shade...he brings us pizza and streusel with whipped cream.
We are revived and can’t believe our luck in him rescuing us from sitting by the pool. He then leads us to the roof where we have views of the dome of the rock, Holy Sepulchre and the unique vista that is Jerusalem. As if we are living above the troglodytes in the street...viewing the bluest cloudless sky...a handful of tourists ... no pushing passed people ... just catching a moment to reflect and imagine the thousands of years, 100s of millions that lived and prayed and fought and died for this most sacred space on earth.
Down from the roof back into the teaming streets of the old city. He directs us into an Armenian shop on Via Dolorosa (believed to be the path that Jesus walked on his way to his crucifixion) where we can spend our shekels. Souvenirs in hand he leads us to the back of the store and 6 Jews begin their visit to a few of the Stations of the Cross. He leads from station to station explaining in hushed tones to the totally uninformed the holy places we are visiting. From station to station we experience it as Jews, but observe people making their pilgrimage to the stations ... their wailing western wall.
Perhaps because of the difficulty entering the old city because of the activity and sacredness of the Greek Orthodox Easter, these sites were nearly empty. Beshert?
Then down an alley, up an incline he talks to a Muslim youth...keys are thrown...metal door creaks and clatters...up steps into a Muslim school ... metal door clangs behind us. We are in a school yard....more steps...to the top...thru a window the closest view of the dome of the rock...just hundreds of feet away just the windows iron grates between us and the sacred Muslim shrine no longer open to Jews.
.....But we got great pictures.
Back down...it was not a trap...back onto the street. Thru alley ways and steps our pied piper leads us deeper. Too late to leave breadcrumbs. We enter another store. Armenian third generation business in antiquity...one of only a couple dozen licensed by the government. Museum quality Roman glass, Russian icons antique carved ivory and Seder plates and other Judaica ... more stuff than I can catalog. We sit on grand sofas and carved chairs...tea is served in gilded cups. The owner explains his family’s history and their business. They buy from government auctions of excavations. Also he describes how when people escape persecution in their home country, they convert their assets from local currency to items easier to transport. They can be shipped duty free if they are religious items. Uh oh.
It’ll be on my fireplace mantel when it arrives. We do love to rescue Judaica.
Antonio leads us out of the old city...thru the Shabbat closed Jewish quarter... the international costumes are transformed into the varied garb of the observant of my tribe. For a moment I feel they are the royalty and I am the peasant in rags .... In a way, in this kingdom I am. Hmm...never ever felt that before.
He leads us out and points to our hotel. We cross the park that separates us from the hotel past children playing in a random vertical sprinkler with squeals of joy ... as we feel due to our chance meeting of Antonio and our special day.
We return to our hotel ... again the packed lobby ... mixed clothing from fur hats and beards, wigs, long dresses and black suits ... and our sect ... jeans.
It’s Saturday... Shabbat. Experience has taught us. Don’t eat in a kosher hotel on Shabbat! This night was a 48 hour period when kosher food would have had to have been prepared by Thursday night because the last days of Passover are days when work is forbidden. But, we had a plan. A short cab ride to a delicious meal.
The schism that is Israel in a couple of hours ... walking thru the Jewish quarter ... thru a Muslim school ... to a modern cuisine metropolitan restaurant ... don’t feel like peasants now.
I raised my children Jewish ... they married Jews ... they are raising their children as Jews ... We have achieved OUR goal. We have continued the line of our tribe. Israel would not exist were it not for secular Jews ... prayer has not protected Israel.... Technology and a strong military have. The Judaic melting pot that is Israel ... heterogeneous that it is... a nation of laws
In a way ... since orthodox have larger families ... worldwide Judaism will become more observant as the secular Jews tend toward smaller families.
As the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem safeguards the memory of the past and imparts its meaning for future generations. Established in 1953, as the world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is today a dynamic and vital place of intergenerational and international encounter. For over half a century, Yad Vashem has been committed to four pillars of remembrance: Commemoration: Yad Vashem is dedicated to commemorating the six million Jews murdered by the Germans and their collaborators, as well as the numerous Jewish communities destroyed during the Shoah, so that they will have an eternal remembrance. Documentation: The Yad Vashem Archives house the largest collection of Holocaust documentation in the world. The 125 million pages of documentary evidence, films, and 420,000 photographs, as well as more than 100,000 survivor testimonies stand as indisputable proof of the genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Nazis and their collaborators. Research: Since its establishment, one of Yad Vashem’s priorities has been to research the Holocaust and to distribute publications on the subject. Education: The International School for Holocaust Studies conducts educational programs and produces educational materials for a variety of target populations and educational organizations in Israel and abroad.
Yad Vashem holocaust memorial visit.
We have had the honor of visiting holocaust memorial museums in Washington DC, Cape Town Africa, Buenos Aires Argentina a concentration camp near Berlin and today was our third visit to Yad Vashem.
Each time the emotional wave rises from my chest and flows thru my eyes. Yad Vashem is an architectural gem that both imprisons with its stark concrete walls while encourages a wishful view to the heavens and the hopeful view of the light ahead...a future...where did survivors draw the strength to not give up...to not run toward a wall and be shot...to not reach for the electric fence ... step out of line at a winter roll call. These heroes...the survivors that lived to tell their stories...or just managed to live...so we could see their tattooed like cattle numbered arms...
The story of antisemitism thru history is told. Explanations of Nazi propaganda concerning Aryan feature measurements of facial features and eye color.
Haunting movies of Kristallnacht when 1000 synagogues were destroyed...imagine the culture shock if your church or synagogue was burned to the ground...and the next one...and another...all over your township...or city...and another ... and the next county....and around your entire country. 1000....1000 ... holy places of worship ...burned to the ground ... where you were married ... where you had your kids bar/bat mitzvahed ... or their holy communion ... all the same night. 8000 Jewish businesses destroyed.
You wake up the next morning ... for a second you forget ... and then an electric shock courses thru your body as your brain remembers and chemically shocks you awake. After a few days, you convince yourself that’s the end of this pogrom ... soon you hear jackboots at your door ... kicked open... yelling in your home .... guttural orders ...you pack a suitcase ... streets teaming with your people ... massing at a train station ... squeezed into a cattle car ... when it was full .... the top of the car opened and more human cargo pushed in.
The tears...the screams ... weeping.... darkness ... smells ... exhaustion .... last week you were a doctor, a professor ... today you are cattle in a cattle car. Where is your sister...your mother ...your daughter...your wife? Days of travel standing .... smells of vomit and shit...and........death.
Train stops...train whistles...oh god let me die....train rumbles again...and another day....and it stops... German shepherds bark and bark and doors open. Out out get out...blinding lights after days of darkness. Fresh air but more soldiers and yelling and dead bodies to step over.
You follow the line ... leave your belongings you packed so carefully ...your wedding picture ...picture of your mother ... the extra coat you packed. .... Suitcases piled high....along the tracks. ... March ... someone trips ...the dogs tear him apart....he runs ...he’s shot. .... she sees her daughter ... they run to each other....shots ... your ears ring ... skulls explode with blood and bone and brains blasted.
Her baby ripped from her arms...from the legs spun and splatted to the ground. Your heart explodes with chest heaving thuds ... struggling for breath ...you piss yourself ... you shiver with cold....and fear. Struggling to keep your balance you can’t swallow cause dryness from dehydration and fear grip your lips together.
You would welcome death but fear fear fear makes you follow the shuffling feet. Undress...sprayed for lice...striped pajamas ... filthy scratchy ... food or liquid with some hint of a taste ...just too wet your lips and swallow is a gift. This is better than the cattle car. Tomorrow is still.......
A horizontal place at last...a wooden bunk shelf, couple of feet of air above your face. Days of standing ... your legs ache...last week you had a pillow, a blanket, a mattress ...squeezed together ... the noise...the wailing .... the breath in your face of that horrible pathetic face next to yours...you each mumble .... The face you face mirrors yours.
Sleep ... the gift .... dreams can only be better than the nightmare you awaken into. That moment that crashes your consciousness ... oh god no ...
Pain...breathing ...you curse your heart for beating...but steal an extra bite of bread...they shoot a couple every day on the front row at roll call...you push to the back rows....push to the middle...the shivering...pain in my belly, my chest, my heart...where is she my little one...let her be safe....let her be dead
Red fire over there...ashes ... choking smoke...Sonderkommando...if you load the bodies into the ovens you avoid death longer by living in the bowels of the final solution ovens
The videos of the survivors telling their stories ...
Piles of shoes...pictures of the heroes that died...
Then the light...the opening that leads you out of hell into the light...a view of Jerusalem...the heaven that was created out of the ashes of Auschwitz...Buchenwald...Bergen Belsen...
The children’s memorial. Haunting .... A single candle ...reflected repeatedly reminding remember Ad Infinitum ... if you save one life you save the world .... You kill a child...a thousand ... 1,500,000 children killed
EAT AND MEET JERUSALEM
We were met by a guide, cooking instructor and cheerleading coach. We started by walking into a bakery. You don’t want to hear how good it tasted. Yum.
Then we walked around the market like we did a couple of years ago .... Reading terminal on steroids with Hebrew lettering.
Fruit teas that will leave our clothes and suitcase permanently perfumed ... halavah and tahini stands that redefine the genre. We shop for the meal we are to prepare...and consume.
Yael took us back to apartment where on 2 burner hot plate, a 20 inch oven, and small horizontal space we created dishes that demonstrate what Israeli cuisine is ... Middle East, Northern Africa, and Central European.
We had a lot of fun and even the previously kitchen impaired we were able to experience the joy of cooking.
We all know the joy of eating and the day was a total success. We cancelled dinner plans and went to the tower of David light show which is as a cooking class in Jerusalem a don’t miss.
I made dough and I made falafel...who knew.
Tower of David museum and western wall and Kotel
We awoke to strange sound ...Rain in Israel...it’s our last day Jerusalem. No visit to Jerusalem is complete without a visit to the western wall ... the Wailing Wall. But it was pouring...??
Where we saw the house nighttime light show there is a museum which presents the history of Jerusalem. Starting 3000 BCE thru the 20th century we learned about the different cultures that have lived in this city holy to all religions. 5000 years of history must be preserved and open to all the religions that center around the ancient walls of the old city.
Under Jordanian rule, the western wall was closed to Jews to pray at. Now the dome of the rock, the holy Muslim mosque is closed to Jews to visit to avoid conflict. The western wall which is the holiest Jewish religious spot is controlled by the ultra-orthodox which prevents men and women from praying together. This relates to the complexity of Israeli politics.
Under the parliamentary government you need a majority in the Knesset (congress) to name your parties leader as prime minister who is the head of the government. (The president is a more ceremonial position). If one party can’t Gain a majority, to form a government you form a coalition. The ultra-orthodox party is needed to help form the majority giving them more power than their actual electoral strength. Therefore, the minority religious group has outsized power and controls its fiefdom at the expense of religious freedom to the more secular. You know...2 Jews...3 opinions.
The morning rain continued as we learned 5000 years of history. We left the tower of David museum (really has nothing to do with David...misnamed due to historical mistakes) and headed to the church of the holy Sepulchre which was overflowing with Greek Orthodox Easter days earlier.
This holy place for Christianity is the last stations of the Via Dolorosa...where Christ was crucified and buried. There were thousands of people who had made pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre… in the church it was an honor to visit this holy place to Christendom.
We meandered thru to old city… umbrellas up to deal with the rain that stubbornly continued. Finally we arrived in the Jewish quarter and head to the western wall. We pass security above the wall suddenly the plaza that before 1967 I as a Jew would be prohibited from praying appears. I as I have before stood before the sign that shares my last name, and head to the wall itself.
After an entire-day of rain, the sun appears on cue just when we needed it. The women and men divide as they must to pray at and touch the wall.
As I approach it much less crowded than it has been other times, no Torah reading at this time, I am as before humbled by this center of my tribe. Here I am only because my grandfathers escaped from Russia. It is a moment of extreme introspection.
Makhtesh Ramon (Hebrew: מכתש רמון; lit. Ramon Crater/Makhtesh ; Arabic: وادي الرمان) is a geological feature of Israel's Negev desert. Located at the peak of Mount Negev, some 85 km south of the city of Beersheba, the landform is not actually an impact crater from a meteor nor a volcanic crater formed by a volcanic eruption, but rather is the world's largest makhtesh . The crater is 25 miles by 1-6 miles wide and about 1/4 deep is shaped like an elongated heart.
So this is where we spent two nights...overlooking the enormous hole in the ground. It was formed by erosion by water with wind which when you are in a desert is hard to fathom. Seeing the earth worn away by what takes millions of years opens one’s mind up ..... an hour...a day....a year...1000 years....10,000 years ago....now think in millions ...now imagine wind and water sculpting away the earth’s crust into a hole 25 miles long ... now imagine all that water disappearing. Now, think that this speck of earth on the planet ... this planet and its solar system ... infinite solar systems ... big bang
So the view was amazing...swimming in pools overlooking this incredible feat of nature...all thru the resort ... ibex roam...
From the depths of crushing sadness of Yad Vashem to this gorgeous luxurious moment and I gasp at the decisions by my grandfathers and luck for me to experience this moment.
Next, on to Eilat. I first heard about Eilat When I was 17, in 1967, the Arab armies massed their Troops around Israel’s borders ... millions of soldiers against this tiny slip of land ... then they blockaded the Red Sea at sharm-el-shek cutting off the port of Eilat from the Red Sea ... an act of war ... the heroic pilots and ground crews with nascar precision flew multiple sorties per day, destroying the Arab air forces on the ground ... tanks running thru the desert to provide defensible borders that the UN WOULDN'T and winning the six day war.
HEROES: who are the heroes that made this miracle of making the desert bloom? Theodore Hertzel ... whose vision in the 19th century was the father of the Zionist movement and like Moses never experienced the Promised Land...
So many names we revere...Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan...and the IDF... Israeli soldiers who fought, some of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice, and the American and other foreign nationals (called lone wolves. (Michael Levin from Abington who is buried here).
The Irgun, the Haganah, the Palmach the early military and underground groups that fought the British and were ready to defend Israel when in 1948 the United Nations separated Palestine into Israel (a Jewish state) and Jordan (an Arab state). The Muslim sect that was given rule of Jordan (Hashemite) threw out Palestinian Arabs and they became the refugees that want to push the Jews into the sea. Black September was an attempt to overthrow the king of Jordan and gain Palestinian control of Jordan. Not alternate facts!
The Mossad. ... the group of super heroes whose missions such as depicted in the movies Munich and raid at Entebbe risked all but cannot tell of their missions but put muscle behind “never again” ... never again to depend on others to save Jews ... the world seems incapable and unwilling to protect my tribe. These unsung heroes telegraph to the world ... you will pay the ultimate price for killing Jews. They will find you!
The holocaust survivors ... the most heroic of all heroes. They avoided the easy end to their suffering ... they lived ... to have children ... to replace their decimated (actually decimated means 10% killed ... we suffered closer to a 40 % loss ... today there ARE STILL LESS JEWS THEN BEFORE WORLD WAR 2’s FINAL SOLUTION.) As the smoke cleared from the ruins of Europe and Auschwitz-Birkenau the survivors came to settle in Israel. These pioneers lived under horrendous conditions when they arrived, Many orphaned...they populated the kibbutzim which were such an integral part of the settlement of their Israel.
Next stop....Eilat. A two hour ride into and thru this giant ‘crater’. Mile after mile inside the walls of this giant moon like landscape ... after a while we are on to just the desert. Rocks, mountains, no wildlife...an occasional scrub bush.
On the ride from Jerusalem we had driven thru Arab controlled regions on the West Bank of the Jordan river. In 1967 Jordan controlled the West Bank...Egypt controlled the Sinai and Syria the Golan Heights. When the massed armies were defeated in the 6 day war, Israel captured these lands. They returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt but Egypt refused to take back Gaza ... the scene of recent protests. Billions of dollars have been poured into this strip of land, Israeli settlers FORCIBLY removed and the powers that be in Gaza, fire missiles into Israel and dig tunnels to try to kill Jews. Children revered as heroes if they kill Jews. Golda Meir’s famous quote: “There will not be peace until they love their children more than they hate ours”.
From Jerusalem you drop down into the desert. Initially close to Jerusalem, irrigation has made the desert bloom. Eventually, you drive thru just ... dry land ... biblical in its void...then where Israelis have worked, built cities, date groves ... patches and masses of green in startling sharp contrast to the raw earth desolateness around it. Israel is on the forefront of desalination and solar power. The results are miraculous when you compare it to the undeveloped lands of 70 years ago when Israel became a country.
As we drove thru the ‘crater’, towards Eilat...miles of nothing ... then an army base.... date farms and suddenly.... like Las Vegas a city of massive hotels rises out of the desert on the southernmost point of Israel. Except instead of sucking the water out of the Colorado River and Lake Meade formed by the Hoover dam, desalination feeds this amazing jewel on the Red Sea. A tremendous tourist area known for hotels, clubs, water sports, scuba diving ... so many visitors from all over the world and so many families enjoying their lives.
We spent 3 nights in Eilat...beach on the Red Sea. Dinners at outdoor restaurants ... a promenade of activity as children enjoy their parent’s full attention ... ice cream the universal crack cocaine of all generations is enjoyed..... children yelling for Ema and Abba ... as we kvell to see the joy around us and kvell to see what our tribe created in blips of time from striped pajamas on walking skeletons and shaved heads ... an oasis in the desert and an oasis of safety in a world that has ripped that security of practicing our faith or even staying alive.
We took a day trip to Jordan to see the ancient city of Petra. You walk across the border from Israel and the stark contrast is deafening ... from green to brown....it’s as if the spectrum lost its color ... same blue sky but the ground is without form ... the miles thru the desert on unlined cracking asphalt thru ... nothing. This on the road to a country’s jewel tourist attraction ... passing the occasional town and Bedouin encampment.
Petra was a city carved out of a giant crack in the earth. As we flow thru colors and shapes of this natural museum ... a photographers dream ... the walk itself would be worth the trip ... and then suddenly you come upon Greek like columns carved out of the rock ... you wonder at this 2000 year old craftsmanship... and marvel at the confluence of isolation and weather that allowed its survival.
We were only in Jordan 7 hours ... when you leave Israel you are not prepared for the chasm you are crossing. A time machine backwards that slowly unwinds but not until you walk back into Israel does the sharp contrast truly explode on your rods and cones.... especially your cones. COLOR. Being in Jordan is like a beige and white movie ... except for the time Petra ... an oasis of color in an otherwise dreary dusty dream and then the time machine of hundreds of feet and you leave that monochromatic world for the Technicolor technological treasure of Eilat.
A welcome shower washes off the beige from our skin and soon shawarma and pita and falafel and Goldstar beer revive us and it was good.