Martin Buber Society Arava Excursion

Martin Buber Society Arava Excursion
Activity Date: 
Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 to Monday, Dec 1, 2014

The Buber Fellows spent two richly packed days exploring the physical, cultural and ideological contours of the desert. We headed out of Jerusalem to the southern tip of the country early Sunday morning. En route, we stopped first at the Hazeva Fortress and received explanations from Dr. Sarit Paz about the site’s successive archeological stages and the Christ’s Thorn Jujube planted there, purported to be the oldest tree in the country; following that we made a stop at the Vidor Agriculture Research and Development Center, learning firsthand about desert farming techniques used in the Arava Valley; we finished our drive down south with visits to the ‘Ein ‘Evrona wells and the Eilat Salt Ponds. In addition to receiving more archeological and geological explanations from Dr. Sarit Paz, under the shade of ‘Ein ‘Evrona’s large Doum Palm trees, we engaged in a group discussion about ideological constructions of the desert, as reflected in the fellows’ various areas of research.
As night fell, we arrived at our accommodations at the Kibbutz Eilot Guest House. Following dinner we gathered again for a fascinating discussion, led by Prof. Ruth HaCohen, about religious configurations of the desert. The next day was dedicated to the Timna National Park. After learning about the area’s history as an Egyptian Copper mine, we embarked on a long, physically demanding, but breathtaking hike up and down the large park’s mountains. Dr. Sarit Paz acted again as our archeological and geological guide throughout the hike. In the midst of the hike, we rested for a short workshop conducted by Dr. Yonatan Moss on the practice of silence in the desert in late ancient Christian asceticism. Following lunch in the park’s restaurant we saw the site’s Egyptian Shrine of Hathor and the adjacent hieroglyphic rock carvings. As night fell for the second time, we boarded the bus back to Jerusalem.