24.06.2011 22.Siwan, 5771
A new column: Travel expert Joe Yudin introduces "the road less travelled" as well as some new discoveries at more well-known sites.
We arrive before first light. When we get out of the dusty jeep we expect a coolness as in the night mountain air of Jerusalem, but that isn’t the case down here. It’s warm and will eventually become scorching hot not long after sunrise. The mountain can barely be made out in the thick darkness but it’s there looming over the Dead Sea at the heart of the Judean Desert. I wonder how those Jewish warriors felt the first time they saw this mountain 2,000 years ago.
We fill our bottles with water, and set out on the trail up the mountain path that I know is there but I cannot see. The tourists from Manhattan follow me blindly into the darkness, just as some 970 Jews followed their rebel leader, Elizar Ben Yair up the mountain to their eventual death. You would think that I would get sick of this place. After all, every tourist that comes to Israel makes this pilgrimage. Every time I come here and tell the story, and see the reaction of my various groups I am always pleased. No matter who comes here, whether it is Jews, Christians or atheists, everyone is moved to tears, or should be if the story is told correctly. The story is a sad but heroic one. Did these people make the right choice? Are they worthy of this immortalization? We shall see….