When I was in the Golan Heights last summer on a Birthright Israel trip, I lost six shekels. That in itself is not really a big deal; it equates to less than two US dollars. Yet what was left on Mount Bental seemed to me to be something more.
The Golan Heights is the border between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon. On one side Hezbollah flags wave in the dry breeze and a few feet away a bloody civil war rages and makeshift IDF medical tents stand out in the beige landscape, offering help to wounded refugees. I could see the UN border lines from my place in the sky.
Before ascending the mountain, my tour guide informed us that the bathrooms at the top would cost us a few shekels to use, so I put 2 two-shekel coins and 2 one-shekel coins in the pocket attached to the back of my phone.
Reaching the top of Mount Bental was breathtaking. After an explanation of the current relations between the three countries from our tour guide, my friends and I were let loose to explore the uninterrupted views beneath us. A kid named Raul almost fell off the Lebanon side of the mountain, I took a picture on top of a boulder and big bugs kept landing on my friend Julia’s red shirt. There was snow on the peaks of the mountains in the distance, showing me that everything I think I know can be challenged.
It felt as if the whole world had been wrapped up in the serenity of the dry heat that lingered stagnant above the crossroads. It felt peaceful, even though our tour guide had just mentioned how the protrusion we were sitting on doubled as a bomb shelter. It smelled like sunscreen and was painfully bright. I used all my time on the mountain to admire the scenes around me and contemplate how one thin line can cause so much division.
I was skipping down the stairs with my friends chattering behind me on the way back down the peak, when my foot suddenly rolled over itself and my ankle twisted and hit the ground — hard. Pain shot through my foot.
My first thought was me, sitting in the stifling heat of a parked tour bus while all the other participants hiked up Masada, swam in the Dead Sea and ran through Tel Aviv. I envisioned a chunky ankle brace clinging to my leg and everyone saying what a shame it was that it happened so early in the trip.
But then I realized that I wasn’t crying; my mom used to tell me that I would know something was broken if I started crying. Although the pain was white hot at first, it had simmered down to a cool blue by now. It didn’t hurt enough for tears. So if not broken, maybe sprained? I did roll all the way over it, and I could’ve sworn I heard a pop.
By this point my friends were asking what was wrong and the other participants had started to pass by me. The pain was growing less and less, so I did some foot circles and flexed and pointed my toes without difficulty. I put my sneaker back down on the ground and slowly leaned into it. I could walk. I’d have to go easy on it for the rest of the day, but I could walk! And if I could walk, then I could hike, I could swim and I could run.
It was only after we had returned to the bus and gotten settled that I realized those six shekels were no longer in my phone pocket. They must have fallen out while I was taking pictures. I had lost them somewhere in the Golan Heights, somewhere amidst the seeming beacon of peace above the bitter wars and the nasty terrorism.
It seemed to me to be somewhat of an offering: six shekels for protection that morning. And if you ask me, six shekels is a small price to pay to experience a minor miracle.