Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thursday, September 23 - Judean and Negev Deserts

We drove out to to the Judean Desert to an area called the Wadi Kelt overlook where we heard a lecture about the "Monks of the Judean Wilderness." We visited the monastery of St. Gerasimos, a fifth century figure who founded a monastery just east of the Jordan near Jericho. Traditionally it is held that the monastery honors a site where the Holy Family stopped when they fled from Herod shortly after Jesus' birth. Gerasimos is also said to have pulled a thorn out of lions foot, thereby befriending the lion who served him thereafter. There is a very old and historic church at St. Gerasimos. In addition there is a studion where monks and other craftspeople make mosaics. Following St. Gerasimos, we visited the historic site of Qumran where the Dead Sea Sea Scrolls were discovered. From there, it was south to the Negev where we stayed in the open air Zman Midbar Spirituality Center overlooking the Negev Mountains. 

Our Israeli guide Jacobin,a brilliant Dutch woman who now lives in Israel, ,  introduces us to one of the "West Bankers," a man who has lived under 4 governments yet never traveled more than 35 kilometers from where we were standing.  He lost his arm to a landmine.

A monk at St. Gerasimos Monastery works on a mosaic
Cave 4 at Qumran, where a large cache of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found

Our open air accommodations at Zman Midbar Desert Spirituality Center in the Negv
We slept Bedouin style at Zman Midbar

The chapel at Zman Midbar overlooks the Negev Wilderness and was quite beautiful

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