Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Journey to Israel 1974: Mosaic

Israel is a pattern of Holy and historic sites, the ancient and the up-to-date. It is as new as the group of us who gathered to begin our journey, forty-one Jews and four Christians. The Jews came from Westchester County and New York City, New York. Some were European immigrants who had fled the Holocaust. Others were the parents of children who had left the U.S. to live on a Kibbutz. Our tour guide was a Sabra, born in an Israeli territory.

Israel is as new as Ashdod, founded in 1957 on empty sand dunes, now on the way to becoming a major seaport. It is as old as Askelon, one of the five principal cities of the Philistine Kingdom, where Sampson lived. As we drove beside the Mediterranean from Tel Aviv these were the first places we saw. The third, Yad Mordecai, was a Kibbutz inhabited by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto and the last settlement on the road before the Gaza strip. These survivors once played a part in protecting Israel from an advancing Egyptian army by creating a delaying tactic that gave the Israeli soldiers time to prepare their defenses. They made life-like wooden figures of soldiers and stationed them in a field of tall grasses. The Egyptians halted their march at the sight of this mock army and the survivors saved the day – a modern tale of David and Goliath. The wooden battalion was still there, testimony to the bravery and cunning of the Warsaw survivors.

The road turned east as the day ended. We drove through the barren and rocky hills of the Negev Desert, timeless home to the Bedouins and their herds of goats. At day’s end we checked into the Massada Inn for a good night’s rest before we journeyed on Massada in the morning.