Features Archive

Wish you Were Here~Eilat

Wake up is at 4:15 AM, and the buses pull out by 4:40. Three hours later we stop in Yatvata for breakfast (and Yatvata's famous ice cream and coffee!) and then continue on our way to Eilat.  Our first stop is at the bottom of Har Tzfachot, and Rabbi Migdal, our tour guide, leads us on a three hour hike to the top, and then back down. From the top you can see four countries--Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and we had an incredible view of the mountains that span all four countries, as well as the Red Sea and the beach.  When we reached the bottom, we quickly changed into water clothes and headed to the beach, where we got to swim, hang out, play frisbee, and go snorkeling!  The guide pointed out all kinds of cool fish, some of them really rare, and many of them were recognizable to us as characters from Finding Nemo.  After the beach, we went to our hotel to change and then went to a Bedouin tent for a barbecue dinner, followed by an awesome ropes course built directly above camel and goat pens.  

Thursday morning we split into two groups--one group left the hotel at 6:45 AM to climb Har Shlomo, which was a five hour hike, and the other group left at 8:30 to climb through Canyon Ha'Adom, a two hour hike.  We all joined together at the pier for a boat ride, which included the opportunity to go "pancaking" (think of a big, flat, circular, inflated tube--shaped like a pancake--with handles attached, attached to the back of a motorboat by a rope), swimming, and parasailing.  We had beautiful weather and it was really fun being in the water (don't worry, we didn't see any sharks).  After that we went to the Ice Mall for dinner at Cafe Cafe and some free time to shop and walk around. The Ice Mall has an ice skating rink in the middle of it (hence the "Ice" Mall) and we got to watch a lot of talented skaters perform, including one who is competing in the Winter Olympics that were scheduled to start a week later!  After spending a while at the Ice Mall, we boarded the buses to go to Yerucham, where we'd be spending Shabbat.  


On Friday we split into two groups again, and took turns going camel riding and hiking up a mountain to see the Machtesh HaGadol (essentially a crater, but formed by erosion rather than a meteor).  Machteshim are unique to the Negev of Israel--there are three there, and there are two – soon to be proclaimed - in the Sinai region of Egypt.  Because they're unique to Israel, there actually isn't an English word for them--in the dictionary or Wikipedia, it's called a Makhtesh. When we got to the bottom of the mountain, we were each given a small plastic bottle and directed to an area that had lots of different natural colors of sand--from all shades of beige and brown to yellow and red and purple--and we all got to make sand art.

We then went back to the youth hostel in Yerucham to get ready for Shabbat, and discovered that Nof Ayalon was having their "Shabbat No'ar" (a shabbaton for all 300 high school students that live in Nof Ayalon) in Yerucham, and was sharing the youth hostel with us, which made Shabbat a lot more noisy and crazy, but more memorable and fun.  We had Sefardi food for Shabbat, which was unique and different. Friday night we split up between the three shuls in Yerucham: some went to an Ashkenazi shul, and others split between the two Sefardi shuls there.  After dinner we had a great tisch with lots of singing, and Rabbi Migdal took a group of us stargazing.  Shabbat morning most people went to the Ashkenazi shul, and then we had an early lunch, a shiur by Rabbi Katz, and a walking tour of Yerucham, followed by Seudah Shlishit and then Havdalah.

‏It was an incredible tiyul and shabbaton and would not have been possible without Mrs Katz, Abby, our madrichot, and of course Rabbi Migdal--so thank you guys from all of MMY!