Just what I needed, at the right time. My friend Marta and I decided to visit our friend Pearl who just had a baby girl two weeks ago. She lives on Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv which is up north in Emek Beit Shean. We decided to make a day of it. First we stopped off at Kibbutz Merav on Har Gilboa to drop something off. We took the scenic way up, which winded and twisted up to the top of the mountain. The view of valley of Beit Shean was magnificent. The only problem was that every so often we had to drive over these horrible grates which probably totally ruined Marta's car. Apparently those grates are there to prevent the cows from walking off the mountain. They simply can't walk across the grate. But how do the farmers know that the cows actually walk on the paved road? I know cows are probably not brilliant, but I would think they could just walk around
the grates. Then we saw this at the side of the road:
Apparently this cow was
smart enough not to be walking on the road. And then we noticed that this was a bull, not a cow. When he picked up his head and looked at us, I said, "uh-oh", and we high-tailed it over the grates (ouch!) and up the mountain.
UPDATE: ISAAC HAD ME LOOK VERY CAREFULLY AT THE PICTURE, AND INFORMED ME THAT INDEED, THIS ANIMAL IS A COW AND NOT A BULL. HE VERY CAREFULLY EXPLAINED FEMALE COW ANATOMY TO ME, AND I HAD TO CONCEDE THAT HE KNOWS BULL WHEN HE DOESN'T SEE ONE.
On August 9, 2001, there was a terrorist attack on this road. A car was shot at at the top of the mountain and a 16-year-old girl, Aliza Malka, was murdered in the attack. This girl lived in the Beit Hayeled
, which is a group home established by the kibbutz for children from troubled homes. These children live at the home and become part of the kibbutz family. Aliza's murder obviously had a profound effect on the kibbutz. At the top of the mountain, near the site of the attack, stands a monument in her memory. This sign was also erected after the attack:
Tefilat HaDerech, the prayer for the traveler is what you see as you leave the kibbutz. It makes an impact. You think about that young girl, struggling to make a life for herself through so many challenges and the opportunities being opened up for her because of this kibbutz and the devoted people who live there. And in one second all that hard work, all the struggle is snuffed out. For what?
The kibbutz, by the way, is becoming more and more privatized (and may be fully privatized by now, I'm not sure). They are selling private homes which looked spacious and beautiful. It is a breathtaking place to live. Shaul HaMelech (King Saul) was killed by the Phillistines on Har Gilboa, and as we drove up the mountain I once again remembered that I am living in the land of my history.
Marta and I then played tourist and went to see the Beit Shean National Park, where archaeologists have discovered 400 acres of the ancient city of Beit Shean. We saw the beautiful 7,000 seat theater, bathhouses, streets of ancient times. The history goes back to the fifth millennium BCE and it was so impressive.
That's Marta on the stage at the amphitheater. She's the tiny blip in green thinking she is a ballerina. I was all the way on top taking the picture. The theater was huge. How did they know how to build these things in those days?
Here's Marta adding nice contrast to the shot. I wanted her to climb to the top of one of the pillars for yet more visual interest, but she refused.
Finally we got to Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv
, where Pearl is living with her husband and two beautiful children. We spent the afternoon catching up with Pearl. As I sat on the porch of her home I looked over at the valley and the mountains of Jordan. You can practically reach out and touch Jordan from the kibbutz. Mind-boggling, I know.
All-in-all, it was an amazing day. I got to spend time with Marta and Pearl and really catch up with them. It's funny that we remained friends all these years across the ocean, but I really did not now much about their day-to-day life, but just heard about major events. And here we are. One day I'll post about how I was supposed to make Aliyah with Marta 15 years ago, but elected to stay back in the USA to see if anything would come of my developing relationship with Isaac.
I think she forgave me for that one on September 4Th....