Blog by Mt Scopus College: Debra Fanarof, Cornelia GrosmanCherel Sartori and Yvonne Lewis

This is day nine of our educational trip, and despite the tight schedule and physical exhaustion, we are still blown away by the wonders that each place has to offer. The ‘wow’ factor is driving each of us to embrace each minute of Noam and Zevic’s commentary and guidance.

The day started with a stunning sunrise and a sense of serenity being at the lowest place on the planet, the wonderful Dead Sea. Some took the opportunity to have a early morning float in the waters of the Dead Sea pools, one of the eight global wonders.

Unfortunately, this wonder is losing 1.2-1.5 metres of its depth each year. Noam Bedein pointed out the reasons, and the developing scientific research to fill the Dead Sea with pure water from the Jordan river. It was fascinating to learn about the types of salt structures in this ‘sea’ (actually a lake), such as salt diamonds, salt stalactites and salt chimneys. We all enjoyed holding the perfectly cubed shape salt diamond in our hands. Within minutes we were on the bus to Masada, another ancient artifact which is an ancient historical site with powerful connections to our heritage.

It was with great excitement and a little trepidation that the JNF Tour participants left the lovely Daniel Hotel and the beaches of the Dead Sea for a short drive and walk up Masada lead by Ze’ev. Those wishing not to climb Masada were offered a cable car ride up to the top facilitated by Noam. Those wanting the walk were armed with comfortable walking shoes, sun hats and water bottles. The mountain trail began with a gentle incline, but soon became more challenging. With rocks slipping under foot and 1000 steps to climb we were soon puffing and panting!

The scenery on the way up was breathtaking as we looked down on the azure blue and turquoise of the Dead Sea below and up at the majestic Masada mountain ahead. It was a relief to finally reach the top where Ze’ev told us about the History of Masada as was recorded by Josephus Flavius. Flavius was the commander of the Galilee during the great revolt and later surrendered to the Romans at Yodfat. Flavius’s accounts have been supported by excavations of the site. We were all in awe of the wonderful History of Masada and so grateful for the opportunity to walk in history’s footsteps.

There was a change in plans due to the weather, so instead of visiting the Erezt Beresheit, the tour continued to The Israeli Center Innovation which is a cutting-edge innovation center powered by Taglit-Birthright Israel in partnership with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. After watching a video, the group attended a talk about start up innovations in Israel.

The Center tells the story of the Start-Up Nation and spreads the Israeli narrative of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, such as Soft wheel, Bio bee, Wheelchairsofhope and The Iron Dome; a huge initiate to protect the people and the land of Israel. Guest speaker Chris Cannan, Australian Ambassador for Israel, discussed his work for Australia and Israel and formally closed the presentation.

The day finished with yet another feast fit for royalty!