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Sunrise at the Dead Sea
Adele Lewin Photography

Adele Lewin Photography

Leah and Dov on the top bunk
photo by Nancy Klein

photo taken of Cheryl Hehter Raphaeli[her elbow is seen,]photo of leg and arm of Nancy Klein wearing black, and Spivak. photo has been cropped in this manner purposely since request of Nancy Klein and Cheryl Hechter was "No photos".
photo by one of Leah or Dov Corne, can't remember which


a sun hat worn by cheryl hechter [Raphaeli].Rest of photo has been censored

Nancy Klein and Cheryl Hechter [Raphaeli] stay at Ein Gedi Youth Hostel: A Night to Remember

by Rhonda Spivak, October 5, 2012

I should start this story by saying that it's all my fault. Yes, it is all my fault that Nancy Klein and Cheryl Hechter, two of my friends (ages 45+) had to stay in Gedi Youth Hostel near the Dead Sea in Israel, an accommodation that did not live up to their usual standards or expectations, an accommodation that they themselves surely would never have willingly chosen. At the Ein Gedi Youth Hostel there was no one to bring them chocolates to put on the pillow after turning down the sheets [just as well as they would have melted anyway it was so damn hot down there]. There was no room service [just as well, since it was so damn hot that one would do anything to ensure the door to the room wasn't opened]. There was no valet service to park their car [instead we had to search up and down for parking, winding our way between the Birthright Tour Buses—after all it makes sense that birthright youth would stay at a youth hostel]

It all started as a result of my nephew having his bar-mitzvah on the top of Massada in the sweltering heat of July-about 6 a.m.

My family, Nancy Klein [former Winnipegger living in T.O, daughter of Jack and Faigie Klein] and Cheryl Hechter [former Winnipegger living in Israel, daughter of Gail and Ted Hechter] were going to go, and I was left with the unhappy task of finding accommodation for us the night before the Bar-Mitzvah.

Our mutual friends former Winnipegger Serena Wolchuck [Rosner], daughter of Sharon and Sid Wolchuck, suggested that I book into the Masaada Youth Hostel, which she insisted was a really nice place, clean and comfortable, with a great big pool where one could swim and look up at night to the dramatic Massada in the background. And in the morning one rises and takes the cable car up to Massada. A splendid idea, and when we looked on line there were a couple rooms left. I should have booked it, without asking anyone.
But I didn't. I decided to wait a couple of days and ask my husband if he wanted to stay there, and think about it. We had considered staying in Jerusalem, although since we'd have to be up so early in the morning, it hardly seemed worth it.

In any event, I dithered and I dathered, until when I checked on line again, the Massada Youth Hostel was full. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.  Again, I admit that I should have listened to Serena and booked it right away.

So I got on line and started searching all the hotels in Ein Bokek-it seemed ridiculous to spend big bucks at a fancy hotel where we would sleep for 4 hours and miss breakfast anyway. I started searching for more budget hotels, but no one was answering when I called. There was accommodation at Kibbutz Ein Gedi, but by the time I called they were closed since it was almost Shabbat. I found the Ein Gedi Youth Hostel--it had some rooms left-I got to the Ein Gedi Youth Hostel because they were the only ones to answer the phone [which they did after about 10 rings, whereas the other hotels I rang didn't even manage to do] this . It was two days before my nephew's bar mitzvah. I made an executive decision and booked the Ein Gedi youth Hostel.

The complaints began immediately. Cheryl Hechter thought I was kidding when she heard I had booked her into a youth hostel. "I want you to know that I haven't been to a youth hostel for well over 20 years."
[Nothing like being young again! I thought]
It will sort of be like camp, won't it--but with a toilet and shower in the room.
"I will want my own room," Cheryl said.
"You have one," I answered, thinking that I should have told her she was bunking with three birthright youths, to really get her going.
How many beds in the room, someone asked. "I dunno, I forgot to ask, --they'll be enough."
Cheryl and Nancy hit the road before us, but their quick start didn't pay off. They drove right past the Ein Gedi Youth Hostel all the way to Ein Bokek, where the nice hotels are. (fancy that!)
We followed to meet up with them and eat something before returning to the hostel. It was 10:30 at night and 38 degrees Celsius.
On the drive from Ein Bokek my son saw a sign that said Ein Gedi Resort and Spa. "Is that where we are staying mom?" No I answered, thinking to myself that this was the place that I had tried to contact but they were already close for Shabbat when I called.
"How come we're not staying there. I want to stay there," my son yelled (a yell that had to be reckoned with) from the back seat.
"Because as a matter of fact we are staying at the Ein Gedi Youth Hostel," I replied.
"I don't want to stay at a youth hostile [this isn't a typo, he said hostile instead of hostel]. Why do we have to stay at a youth hostile?" [I was fighting back laughter when he said it].
"Because you are only 12 years old and you don't need to stay at a spa!" I answered.
We arrived, and barely got in since the hostel locks up at night, and the guard has to open up the big electronic gate. When this didn't happen right away, I had images in my head of having to go to Nancy and Cheryl and tell them that we were too late, the hostel was locked, and they'd have to sleep in Cheryl's car.
Each of the rooms in the Youth "Hostile" had 5 beds in it - two sets of bunks and an extra bottom bed, with a small TV high up in a corner [you'd have to give yourself whiplash to watch the TV from several of the beds the way it was positioned.]  I wondered if Golda Meir had stayed here when she vacationed in the Dead Sea. The little porch of the room had a nice view of the Dead Sea. [Ah, nothing can beat a room with five views [one per bed].
The room was clean and had no insects.
I opened the tap, hoping to wash my face with cold water, since it was so frightfully hot outside. The water from both the cold and hot tap was boiling hot. The window near the shower was left open, so gusts of hot air could come in (no need to bring a hair dryer or a towel). I closed it.
In one of the rooms, the air-conditioning wasn't working, so we switched. Nancy and Cheryl decided to share a room instead of going solo. Whatever would one do with five beds to oneself!
My son noticed that not all of the beds in our room had sheets- a mere oversight no doubt. He and my daughter bounced up and down trying each of the 5 beds. They ran into Nancy and Cheryl's room to check it out and see if it was nicer than theirs. They came back easily satisfied that it wasn't.

Although he did notice that theirs felt more like a party room-- possibly because the light in their bathroom was flickering like a strobe light. 

With nothing else to do, and nowhere to go, we entertained ourselves-and had a great time. Nancy was trying to decide what to wear in the morning. Wake up was 4:30 a.m. Nancy and Cheryl barely slept since they were up all night giggling and reminiscing.

In the morning, we even managed to get a little breakfast--a couple of hard boiled eggs to go. Cheryl wants it to be known that she did not get to have any of the eggs (This line is funnier in Hebrew "No 'beitzim' for  Cheryl").  

We had no time to dine. We had to move quickly as we had other bar/bat mitzvah's to get to that very morning in Jerusalem! (I am not making this up!).

Nancy had a bar mitzvah at the Western wall, and then she also had the group bar/bat mitzvah at the Menachem Begin heritage Centre (that we were going to).
And Cheryl-- had no other invites that morning. All dressed up and nowhere to go.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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