The song writer and composer Naomi Shemer was a genius at spotting Israeli cultural trends, and she describes them in many popular songs. In one of her children songs, “The Little Trip,” Shemer writes about the Israeli love of the outdoors. In that song the children walk in the meadow, climb up a mountain, view the sea from afar, and then gallop down. It is also a day of learning and discovery: the children see wild flowers –anemones and cyclamen, and observe a turtle, ants and a lizard. Throughout the day the children have fun, play games and return home in the evening happy and tired, ready to do it all over again the next day..
Naomi Shemer wrote about childhood in a kibbutz, and she paints a picture of paradise which has never been the lot of most Israelis. However, “Little trips” have always been a significant Israeli tradition for children of all age, we are passionate about trips and love to tour the country. Like any other hobby, some people become more serious about their hikes and embark on challenging and longer treks, others, like me, just like to be outside.
I belong to a group which gets together several times a year for the sole purpose of walking together. Before each trip the group leaders, more experienced hikers who had taken upon themselves to organize the trips, decide on a trail. Those trips usually take about six hours of semi challenging hike. Last weekend we walked in the Kina Canyon, a winter stream not far from Arad, in the south of Israel..
After being away from Israel for several months I was looking forward to my first trip back. It started like many other group trips all over Israel. We met close to the departure point, had breakfast and then travelled in a convoy to the destination and the hike began.
We were a group of about 20 middle aged people, most of us in pretty good shape, we have been walking for many years. But an hour after the hike began as we were, in Naomi Shemer’s words “galloping down the mountains,” or more accurately descending down carefully, one member of the group tripped and fell. At first we didn’t know whether he had just twisted his ankle, but as the doctor and the nurse, who were among us, checked his foot it became apparent that it was quite serious.
What came next made me proud of being Israeli. The leader of the group called the Evacuation Unit of the police. This is a unit made of volunteers who come to the rescue of travelers in trouble. On the phone they asked for some details and promised to arrive as soon as possible. An hour and a half later our injured friend was already on his way to the hospital.
The unit appeared out of nowhere and arrived with two vehicles to the middle of the desert. About six volunteers jumped out of the cars, they examined the injured man and took him away in a stretcher.
This is not an easy time for the Israeli police, so it is especially important to emphasize the dedication of the volunteers in the Evacuation Units. They were experienced, professional and especially kind. And once they finished their job and drove away we continued with our trip. ..
We later found out that indeed our friend had broken two bones and needed surgery, I can’t imagine what we could have done without the rescuers.
In many of her optimistic songs Naomi Shemer writes, without sarcasm, about moments of “beautiful Israel” (Eretz Israel Hayafa). We definitely had a Naomi Shemer moment in our last trip.