Up early again, daven, eat and go go go! Our first stop was the Air Force Museum in Be’er Sheva. First we walked through this room which showed us models of different planes. Then the tour guide showed us the different systems of the cockpit and the pilots’ suits. After that she showed us a picture of all of the past leaders of the Air force. She also told us an interesting story about an Air force pilot who crashed in Lebanon and was captured till today, Ron Arad who is still there since 1986. The other pilot was rescued by a Cobra Helicopter, which didn’t have any room for him, so he had to hold on to the Helicopter’s landing ski throughout the rescue.
After that story we went outside to see real airplanes. There was a large parking lot-sized grave yard with almost 50 planes, ordered in the time that it was used. First came some World War II era planes, such as the Messerschmitt, Spitfire, and several Mustangs. Next was a row of the first jet planes, including the British Vampire and Meteors. Then there were a few Russian planes and the famous French Mirage. Lastly they had a few planes that are in the Air force today.
The last part of the museum was a Boeing 707 commercial plane that was used in the Entebbe Operation. We boarded the plane and watched a movie about the Israeli Air force. Then we went back to the airplane grave yard to see more planes, helicopters and other planes. We also saw the plane used by President Saadat and Prime Minister Begin in 1982 when the President arrived for Peace talks. Very cool indeed.
Then to Sde Boker, a small kibutz which Ben Gurion founded, lived and died. Apparently when Ben Gurion was in the army marching through the canyon he fell in love with the kibbutz area and stayed there for a bit. Later he became Prime Minister of Israel. After he retired he moved into the kibbutz and lived there for the rest of his life. Instead of being buried on Har Herzl, like all the other Prime Ministers, he decided to be buried in Sde Boker. We had the privilege of seeing see his and his wife’s (Paula) burial spots. The view of the Negev is spectacular it is easy to see how and why they fell in love with the kibbutz. The Kibbutz is also right next to the river of Tzin mentioned in the Chumash as one of the borders of Israel, very cool.
Then another 1st for the “8th Grade Israel Trip” (1st climbing Masada and now this) Jeep rides through the Negev desert!!!!!!!!!!!! I bet you don’t know how to say Jeep Rides in Hebrew; well it turns into one word and becomes a verb “jeeping” with an obvious “JU”. Well it was great a 2 hour ride. We stopped once for a 25 minute hike to a place called “Ein Akev” where there was a huge pool of water about 9 ft deep, right smack in the middle of the desert! We didn’t swim but we did Daven Mincha. Our group didn’t have a minyan but there were groups of hikers who joined us, only in Israel! Side note: those hikers were hiking a trail called “Shvil Yisroel” loosely translated as “the path of Israel”. This hike runs from Eilat in the south till almost the Mountains of the Chermon way up in the North on the border of Siria. People hike it in one shot, usually taking between 2 ½ months to 3 months, or over a period of years, and then continuing later that year or the next. Awesome!
After the “Jeeping” we had lunch and a brief break then off to our next stop Ein Ovdat; a biblical border of Midbar Tzin, the southern section of Israel. When we went there it was nothing more than a stream, but Yoni told us that sometimes it flooded into a raging river. According to him, it had flooded a few weeks ago, which explained the thousands of knocked down reeds and trees everywhere. We started at the bottom of a huge canyon that was amazingly carved by the river. After walking in the center of the canyon for a little bit, Rabbi Weiss decided that it would be a good place to do “Hittbodidut” private time for thought and personal evaluation with Hashem. All the students walked in the desert by themselves and had time alone to contemplate and be introspective.
We got back on the bus and drove to Chan Hashairot, 15 minutes away. The kids paired up into twos and climbed on the camels. I know what you are thinking, Did Tali go? Well, you will have to just look at the pictures to find out. After a half hour camel ride the caravan came to a stop and everyone dismounted. What a smell, oy!
Finally the day was over. We still had a 1 ½ hour bus ride back to the hotel. We had a great dinner, Simon said” it was amazing!” so he kept eating and eating as did everyone else. Then we Davened and some of the students had family pick them up, the others went swimming.