Sunday, April 17, 2011
|An old Israeli man (Jewish) chats with an Israeli shepherd (Druze) high above the Sea of Galilee.|
all photos by Jonathan Schechter
My travels in the Land of Israel are drawing to an end. I hiked from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Gailee on a four day trek through canyons and over mountains. I have explored Crusader castles and Moslem fortresses and gazed at the massive Syrian-African Rift. Witnessed bird banding at dawn in the Hula Vallley, and the raging waters of Nahal Hermon in the heat of the sun. Explored three wonderous Israeli national parks and reserves: Tel Dan, Nimrods Fortress and Hermon Stream Nature Reserve. Visited ancient battle sites from the Bible, and others ripped from today's headlines. Walked under bridges built by the Romans and viewed arches from 4,000 years ago. Chatted with Israelis of three faiths: Druze, Moslem and Jewish. Dined on fresh pita with goat cheese. Walked for miles between towns and pastoral villages. Slept in a hammock-tent lulled to sleep by jackels. Biked along the Jordan River. But at no time did I feel more at ease and connected to the land than when I sat high on a bluff laced with wildflowers and watched a Druze shepherd herd his goats up towards a spring and a trough of stone--and my perch. And with about 100 meters to go, an older Israeli man sitting with me stood and walked slowly down the hill to greet the goat herding shepherd he did not know. They shook hands and talked of the land, the goats and life in the Galilee.
It could have been 2,000 years earlier. For those that love the land, it is all the same.
I smiled, wondering what it would be like to be that old man or shepherd, connected so closely to their land.