A Night in the Desert
Meet One of Our Past Culinary Israel Participants
Sasha Miller graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in East Asian Art History. Sasha says that despite growing up in a culturally Jewish home, she realized she had lost any association to her Jewish identity over the past few years. Sasha's Birthright Israel experience on the Culinary Israel trip provided her not only with the opportunity to travel abroad and learn about a different culture and lifestyle, but also to reconnect with her Jewish heritage. Read all about one of Sasha's most meaningful moments on her ten day Birthright Israel trip here.
The sand crunched beneath our feet as we, the West Coast Culinary group, entered the Bedouin camp. The site, bathed in bright green lights (which we later learned helped keep away insects), stretched out in all directions--large tents to our front and right, and an endless span of quiet desert to our left.
After being formally welcomed by the Bedouins, we were left to explore--a few of us found the camels we would have the joy of riding the following morning (one of my favorite parts of the trip). We later joined other traveling groups in a long tent for a Bedouin-style dinner of salads, pita, and the ever present hummus. A small camp fire outside warmed our faces from the nighttime wind.
Our sleeping tent was surprisingly warm--threaded animal hair provided the much needed insulation from the chilly desert night--and was filled with constant chatter from the few groups we naturally divided into; some people slept off the meal we had just eaten, others took time to write about our trip in their journals; some played cards (Cards Against Humanity was a big hit with our Birthright group), and others (eventually joined by our guides) entertained themselves with playing Heads Up in a large circle, laughter echoing in the air.
Later that evening, many of us joined Gil--our dad and guide for the trip--on a late night stargazing venture. Passing the far gates into the desert, our voices hushed as we walked farther and farther into the dark, the lights from the Bedouin camp fading behind us until the stars were our only source of light. We were told prior to our trek that not everyone would experience this night in the same way--some would find it dull, others enlightening. However, even as a group, we all agreed--it was unbelievably breathtaking! The night was everywhere--overpowering, silencing, humbling. Specks of light to the far, far right over a sandy crest indicated another Bedouin camp, its yellow halo of light blending into the dark sky. We stopped just on the brink of becoming entirely enveloped by the night, separating to find our own personal space in the desert--to meditate, to think, to experience the people and nature around us, the only sound coming from the gentle shift of a shoe sliding against the sand or the soft sigh of a nearby friend as they also gazed out into the endless black and star-filled sky. When we slowly and quietly walked back to the Bedouin camp, our thoughts returned to the stars shimmering in the night behind us, our family and friends back home to whom we would show pictures of this ten-day trip, our new Birthright friends with whom we had personally shared this experience, and how even just this small venture into the desert to stare out at the night sky was worth the entire experience of Birthright.