After a 45 minute bus ride to Kfar Kedem, we were finally able to fill our empty stomachs with delicious pita as we experienced life as it was in Mishnaic times. As the guide explained a typical Shabbat – no one in the town using mobile phones and not one car on the road- and told us how they do not often venture into the city as they have all they need where they are, I envisioned a real sense of community and as I sat on the stools in a large tent and we dressed in typical head wraps and cloth dresses, I almost longed for the relaxed lifestyle void of technology.
Whilst stepping back in time, we ate around little tables on stools until our stomachs groaned and observed a demonstration of milking a goat, spinning wool and making goats cheese. Perhaps the highlight though was riding around the field on the back of donkeys. As laughs radiated and filled the open air, the weight of all we experienced during our journey in Poland lifted, leaving us free and jubilant as we saw first hand all the Jewish people have built and how far they have come.
The locals welcomed us with open arms as we drank warm tea and dates to end off the afternoon.
As the sky darkened around us and the bus pulled to a stop atop a cliff by Rabbi Akiva’s grave, a collective intake of breath was drawn in as we took in the view of lights and the mountaintops. We all stood around Miriam as she withdrew a pigeon from a white box. Laughter ruptured the silence and a note was attached to the pigeon’s foot, we watched with smiles lingering on our faces as the bird flew in circles round our heads then off into the distance.
We proceeded into the room where Rabbi Akiva’s grave lies and said Ma’ariv then got back onto the busses. As we drove to the guesthouse, the bus was filled with elated conversation. As the ethereally aesthetic land flashed past the window a euphoric sense of mind took over whilst I still struggled to convince myself, I am actually in Israel.