Passover in Jerusalem, Israel.
Visitors arrive from around the world to celebrate
spring and the holiday of Freedom
by eating matzah and enjoying holiday tiyulim, trips.
Today, tens of thousands gathered at the Kotel,
the Western Wall, for Birkat Kohanim,
the Priestly Blessing, which is broadcast on loud speakers to the assembled
and to a world-wide audience on web cams.
The day was warm and overcast,
and there was no morning rain to interrupt the prayers.
The intermediate days of the holiday
are a popular time for Israelis to hit the road
and experience the natural beauty of Israel.
Roads have certainly been improved,
but the heavy holiday traffic
can make a short trip into a long one.
My first rule for a tiyul is to not to sit in traffic
for extended periods of time.
One of the Keren Kayemet, JNF, national parks
is located outside of Jerusalem, near Bet Shemesh,
with an information area next to BarBehar
Off we went to explore Nahal Katlav.
This nahal, a dry waterbed, is a tributary of the Sorek River.
The path begins with a jeep friendly road and good signs
explaining the various trails.
Oh, the beauty of the Judean Hills in spring!
The Israel Foreign Ministry calls Israel a “trekker’s paradise.”
Looking down at the white and winding train tracks
below it is hard to disagree.
From the simple black trail, we started on to the blue trail,
which went down the mountain.
The red kalaniot are still in bloom,
and first buds of the Red Everlasting, Dam Hamakabim,
and other colorful wild flowers lined the twisting trail.
New wheat, bright green in color, grew near wild mustard.
Katlav is a evergreen shrub-like tree with red bark.
I did not get any photos of the katlav,
but I thought these trees along part of the path were interesting.
We were told that our tiyul, trek, would take two hours,
but it was much longer.
I never would have gone if I knew how challenging
the twisting trail down the mountain was going to be.
It was easier to admire the view and photograph
from the flat parts of the trail.
After a while, walking and walking,
another blue trail sign assured us we were not lost.
Ah, but after going down towards the nahal,
except for being helicoptered out,
the only way out was to climb all the way back up to the road.
We saw hundreds of families
out for their Passover tiyul,
most of them were using the easier trails.
Thousands more families filled other park areas,
from north to south.
It is a holiday miracle more are not seriously injured.
I was especially happy to be in car on the way home
with everyone eating ice cream when it started raining.
and only had to imagine wet, slippery rocks.
I survived my Passover tiyul and
the seder plates are packed away until next year.
Every traditional seder ends with
“Next Year in Jerusalem.”
Time to go see what else is happening on
the real Jerusalem streets now.
Still overcast, but rain has not started….yet.