Monday, September 27, 2010

An Israeli Oasis as Passages to Ancient Times


THERE are many reasons not to travel overseas with small children, and, as far as I can tell, only one reason to do so. Unfortunately for my children, who’d probably be just as happy to stay home, that reason is what keeps me slogging through the less glamorous parts of motherhood. When you travel you get the chance to prove to your children that life is at least as interesting as their bedtime stories. And if you can get them to believe that, then you can believe it too, at least for the duration of the trip.
This explains, in part, how I, my husband, my 21-year-old stepson and my two children, a boy who is 8 and a girl who is 6, found ourselves in Israel, a place where history surpasses fairy tales, and more particularly, in Ein Gedi, a 7,000-acre nature preserve in the Judean Desert next to the Dead Sea.
Ein Gedi is a place whose burnt-red crags and incongruous pockets of greenery can make you feel as if you’ve landed, Charlton Heston-like, on some highly cinematic planet. In fact, you have. Ein Gedi is the planet of the epic Biblical past. The niches in the cliffs are where David hid from his enemy King Saul, and the rocky paths are where Saul hunted for him. The vineyards of Ein Gedi produced glorious henna flowers that the singer of the Song of Songs compares to his beloved.

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