Recap: Devori spends Shabbos at Rosh Tzurim with Vera and her family. She has a wonderful Shabbos. At the end of Shabbos, Kochava informs her that there was a bomb scare at the dorm.
After the threats to our school on Shabbos, the Rebbetzin felt we all needed to get away. The school planned a tiyul to Rosh HaNikra. We would go to Caesarea on the way. I’d heard about this fabulous tour. I was so excited to go.
Vera and I packed a delicious lunch with hummus and peppers, and tomatoes, and olive dip. I loved the Israeli foods.
Early the next morning, the whole high school piled into a coach bus heading for Caesarea. Vera and I sat together. “I’m so excited to go,” Vera said. “I always wanted to see Caesarea.” Vera’s excitement was contagious. I loved being with her on a tiyul. I needed this distraction. I stared out the window and watched the scenery of Eretz Yisrael. We left the city with its Jerusalem stone buildings. Along the way I saw the Judean Hills in the distance. We stopped in a very green area. It was Caesarea National Park. The tour guide said we were about to view an extremely old and beautiful bird mosaic. It had 120 medallions depicting various birds like flamingo, peacock, and duck. There were other animals native to Israel like wild boar, bear, lion, tiger, and elephant. It dated from the year 6 CE. The guide said it was the floor of an open courtyard, part of a palace commissioned by a wealthy Byzantine owner. There were adjacent rooms uncovered with geometric design mosaic floors.
I loved looking at the mosaic. I wanted to imagine the wealthy palace owner stepping outside on this magnificent floor with his long golden robe brushing the ground. I could imagine the luxurious palace.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Vera said.
Our next stop was an ancient aqueduct built by Herod. We stepped towards the shore. The water was a lovely aqua color. We found lots of seashells scattered around. Vera began collecting small shells. I stood and stared at the gorgeous scene. I noticed a man nearby who was also collecting shells.
Our tour guide signaled us to go back to the bus. Vera ran ahead. I stayed to pick up a few more fan-shaped shells. Just then, the man who had collected a large number of shells approached me. “Here, you can have these,” he said. I was about to take them when I suddenly felt frightened. Maybe he was a terrorist.
“No, thank you.”
I turned and ran as fast as I could to put distance between me and the man with the shells. Out of breath, I scampered on the bus. I saw the man turning back towards the water. Maybe he was just a regular person. Was I letting my imagination turn everyone into a terrorist? I plopped down next to Vera.
“You okay?” Vera asked.
“Just getting some exercise,” I lied. I didn’t want to frighten her, and I wasn’t sure if I should tell her about my fears.
“You sure you’re okay?”
I tried to stop my heart from pounding. Just then my father’s warning echoed in my ears. “Stay in Yerushalayim.”
I‘d ignored his directive again. Well, this was a guided tour. We were safe. The bus drove on and on until we reached Rosh HaNikra. The tour guide informed us, “This is the most northern tip of Israel where the sea meets the cliffs. You’ll see stunning views and sea caves called grottoes.” When we exited the bus, the tour guide pointed up to a barbed wire fence behind us. “That is the border of Lebanon,” he said.
I gasped. I had gone too far from Yerushalayim.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Denver Dreams (a novel, Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in various magazines including A Bridge in Time – historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). She writes for the community column for the Queens Jewish Link and she writes the Queens page for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivos and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.