Experiencing the Exodus story in a tent

Right after the first few days of Pesach, we packed the car with camping gears and headed North. We decided to leave our comfortable beds and sleep under the stars. What better way to experience the Exodus story  than to sleep in tents, on the ground. This time of the year also marks the beginning of the camping season. Great, trustworthy weather in sight for about seven months ahead. Families are heading out en masse, it feels like the whole of Israel is on the road. Willie Nelson is fittingly singing on the radio “On the road again.” The grandchildren in the back seat are singing along. They know country music songs off by heart, because their mother is a true Israeli cowgirl.

We arrived in the Beit Shean area and put up our tents alongside natural pools in Ganei Huga, like we also did exactly one year ago during the Pesach holiday. This park is large, with three pools flowing with natural spring water from the nearby Gilead mountain.

That area is mentioned many times in the Bible/Tanach. It is the place where Eliah the prophet lived, “girt with a leather belt and wrapped in a long sweeping mantle.” – It was to Mount Gilead that Jacob and his family fled from Laban after serving him for 20  years. Laban chased after him and they met for the last time there on the mountain. There Laban kissed, blessed, and took farewell of his grandsons, the future twelve tribes to be.

King David fled to Gilead during the rebellion of his son Absalom. – The area was later given to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Menashe.

Here we are in the Beit Shean Valley enjoying the springs of the Gilead Mountain, the huge areas of well kept grass and the trees for shade. Millions of Israelis and tourists take advantage of this perfect time to camp, swim, hike and bike. When night falls everyone is sitting around in circles around their tents, three or four generations together. In a circle, everyone is equal and everyone is dependent on each other. Maybe that is why sitting in circles and dancing in circles is so popular in Israel.

In park Ganei Huga, music is forbidden at night, so nothing really is disturbing when we want to go to sleep. Late at night, the air is still filled with noise  though; with laughter and conversations. I am laying in the tent, listening to everything and I know, I am exactly where I want to be at that moment. I hear like the sound of the Israelites, recently freed from the bondage in Egypt, sitting around their tents in the desert. I love this sound and for one who normally has difficulty falling asleep if there is too much noise, I fall asleep like a baby, smiling.

About the Author
Born in Finland, Ruth Brunell lived in Australia for some time. She settled in Israel in 1996 with her husband and four daughters, and now lives in Jerusalem. Ruth has a variety of professions: cook, interior designer, and real estate agent.