Day 4: On to Jerusalem

Today was a long day of bus travel. The morning was a delayed start because of the snow at the Kibbutz. Our driver, Chaim, hadn’t driven in snow before and was unwilling to drive until the roads cleared up. We had breakfast, loaded the bus, and then took a walk around the kibbutz. Davi explained about the Israeli border with Lebanon, on which the kibbutz sits, and how the IDF patrols it under observation from the UN. He also explained about the history of the skirmishes along the border here and the Israeli occupation and subsequent retreat. We also got a chance to actually see the Golan Heights and the Hula Valley in the sunlight. The weather is finally clearing up and the rest of my trip here should be more normal.

After we finally got under way, we headed to the Sapir Pumping Station of the Israel National Water Carrier on the Sea of Galilee. It’s the primary source of water for most of the country, so it’s an extremely important site. We were given a history and engineering lesson on the pumps and carrier system by a very entertaining guy. The pumps themselves send 8000 gallons per minute up 850 feet so gravity can pull it down through the canal systems to the rest of the country. It’s really impressive, especially since it was built in the 50s and is still operating at capacity.

With the pumping station behind us, we headed for Dani’s kibbutz where we he gave us a rather thorough explanation of kibbutz life both historically and in the present. It’s changing quite a lot in modern times as the kibbutzim migrate from a very socialist system into a privatized, capitalistic system. Many kibbutzim are struggling to find niche industries to support themselves. Regardless, the kibbutzim are expanding as more and more people are wanting to live on them. Dani has been living on his for over 15 years. We even met his kids and dog. I don’t know that it’s quite the way I want to live, but I certainly see its appeal.

With the afternoon waning, we hopped back on the bus for Jerusalem. We made it just in time to stop on the Mount of Olives to get a good evening view of the city from above. We said a kaddish and drank a sip of wine before heading on to our hotel, the Park. The hotel itself is not one I’d choose to stay at and fortunately we’ll be spending only a short time here. It’s in need of a lot of work.

Tomorrow we visit the Old City and meet the Israeli soldiers who will be joining us for the rest of the trip. I’m looking forward to seeing the Western Wall and spending Shabbat evening there. The day should be warming up which will be a nice change.

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