Ali Goldberg, a participant on the BINA MITF TLV + Bet Shean, reflects on her experience in MITF, and her southern adventure in Mitzpe Ramon.
‘Twas the night before seger, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. However, in reality it seemed like everyone in Israel was stirring, especially my friend and I. We were a bit nervous to be confined to our 1 KM radius again, so we decided it was time for a quick adventure. Before we knew it, my friend Shanna and I found ourselves in the beautiful, serene, and powerful desert of Mitzpe Ramon. Only a short two hour car ride from Tel Aviv, Israel’s most lively and colorful city, took us to a place that seemed truly otherworldly.
Defined by its rolling hills, colorful sands, and beautiful desert landscape, Mitzpe Ramon is commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Israel. The landscape offers great hiking opportunities, sand boarding, and unreal stargazing. We stayed at a hostel called Naot Farm-a campsite that raises goats and produces their own cheese. The farm’s accommodations are straight out of an eclectic home styling magazine: a huge concrete cylinder held our bed for the night and the common areas, filled with games and comfortable seating areas, were perfect for making new friends. As the sun set and the light from the moon and stars filled the sky, Shanna and I invited everyone who was staying at the hostel to a bonfire. The night was filled with music and laughter. We were given a classic Israeli camping meal where you throw whatever vegetables you can in a big pot with some pasta, called poyke. In return, we blessed the locals with our somewhat-sad-makeshift Israeli take on s’mores: Biscoff cookies, bubblegum flavored marshmallows, and chocolate. Thankfully, they turned out edible and the bubblegum flavored marshmallows ended up being a great conversation starter. As we lay under the stars talking about life, blending cultures, and making new friendships I couldn’t help but to reflect on how I got to this moment.
After graduating from university in the midst of a worldwide and unprecedented global pandemic, I was undoubtedly lost. For my next step in life, I wanted to find balance, and most importantly, stability in a world that was seemingly falling apart.
That’s where Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Tel Aviv+ came in; I found the program and thought it was the perfect opportunity to grow, travel, and give back to a community all at the same time. It’s moments like this, sitting by the fire with then strangers, now friends, that I know I made the right decision. I’m thankful that in this time where our freedoms are limited, a program like MITF Tel Aviv+ has still been able to give me the opportunity to make this experience uniquely my own.
// Ali Goldberg: MITF TLV + Bet Shean