Day 5 - Friday 9/16/05

Visit with Maoz & Oranit

Maoz Dekel is the youngest son of Shula and Itzik. He and his wife Oranit and their two children joined us for breakfast. They live just around the corner within walking distance. After the meal, we loaded up Felix for the long drive to Eilat at the southern tip of Israel, on the shores of the Red Sea. On the way down, we stopped at a few sites.

Ben Gurion Gravesite

Our first stop was Kibbutz Sdeh Boker to view the gravesites of David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, and his wife Paula. We also saw our first desert ibex here. This Kibbutz was established in 1952 - a prosperous agricultural development 20 miles south of Be'er Sheba in the heart of the most arid desert in Israel.

Ben Gurion Gravesite Ibex
Avdat Panorama
Avdat Temple


40 miles south of Be'er Sheba lies Avdat, an ancient Nabatean city on the old spice caravan route between Petra and Gaza. The Nabatean culture flourished from the 4th century BC to 106 AD based on caravan trade of myrrh and spices from southern Arabia to Gaza, Damascus, and Alexandria. Their capital at Petra is known for its ruins. Avdat is their most impressive city in the Negev, featuring an acropolis with a temple to Dusares, a Roman villa and citadel tower, baths and pottery ovens as well as Byzantine churches and storage caves.

Mitzpeh Ramon

Makhtesh Ramon

Our last stop was at Mitzpeh Ramon in the heart of the Negev Desert 80 miles north of Eilat. This is a lookout on the rim of the Makhtesh Ramon, one of the largest craters in the world -- at 25 miles long and 5 miles wide it reaches a depth of 1300 feet. It was created by erosion and geological activity along the Syrio-African Rift.

Eilat Daytime


After a full day of exploring it was a relief to reach Hotel Adi in Eilat and enjoy a leisurely dinner at the hotel. Our room had a beautiful view of the bay and Akaba in Jordan just a few miles away. That evening, the 'kids' explored the beachfront and reviewed the guidebook for tomorrow's adventures while the 'adults' went off to visit Nachum and Tova, their old friends from their days of living here in Eilat.

Eilat Nighttime Shabbat-A-Vator

It was this evening that we discovered the Shabbat-A-Vator. The observance of the Shabbath begins just after sundown on Friday night, and continues until Saturday night - during this time, religious Jews are not allowed to do any 'work', the day being devoted to contemplation and prayer. What we did not previously realize was that pushing an elevator button is considered to be 'work'. Hence the use of the Shabbat-A-Vator - an elevator which spends the 24 hours of the Sabbath doing the work for you, blithely drifting up and down while stopping on every floor to allow one to enter and travel to their destination without having to press a single button. A bit slow perhaps, but an innovative solution to a specific problem.