I like to keep things simple.
That means that Ofra and Efrat are not nearby, nor are Shiloh and Hebron.
I don't know that the custom is in other parts of the world, but in Israel, at the end of the school year, the school staff, in ours it includes maintenance as well as teachers and administrators, go on some sort of trip or walking tour and end up with a "dinner."
That's what I was doing yesterday afternoon, evening, actually until pretty late. We, the staff of Yeshiva High School Mateh Binyamin, went south of Jerusalem to Kever Rachel and Gush Etzion.
For me, the most complicated thing was just getting to the bus, since it was leaving from Beit El. I made a whole bunch of useless phone calls to try to arrange a ride. But since I was determined to get there and have a good time, I finally just left my house and hoped for the best.
After waiting a bit for the Egged bus to Jerusalem to show, I caught a ride with a school bus going to Ofra, on the way. I exchanged pleasantries with the driver, an old friend. Suddenly a felt the bus swerve a bit and a little white car bounced in front of us, hitting the heavy bullet-proof bus and flew away, towards the rocks on our right.
Ooop! The driver slowed down carefully and backed up to see what had happened. Other cars had already stopped. The car was on its side in the ditch/shoulder, and it seemed that the passengers had been able to get out. The bus driver told me that he had seen the little car trying to overtake us, though we were in a "no pass" area. Cars were coming in the other direction, and the little white car had no where to go, but fly like it did. We couldn't stop safely without causing cars to crash into our rear.
The cars behind us and going the other way had already stopped and the emergency team from Ofra, arrived within seconds, so I caught a ride to the Beit El T junction. I tried contacting the school to tell them to pick me up there, when another teacher stopped in a car and told me to get in.
So in the end I was about the first to get on the bus in Beit El. We picked up various teachers on the way. The first stop of our tour was Kever Rachel. Many of the teachers hadn't been there for years and were horrified by the wall which surrounds it.
One told me:
"It's a good thing I read your blog or I wouldn't have been prepared for the shock."
From there we went to Gush Etzion, where the guide told us that it's even higher than Beit El. The winds certainly were the worst.
From there we went to the "Alon Haboaded," a large tree which had been visible from Jerusalem during the 19 years between the destruction of Gush Etzion and the rebuilding after the Six Days War. I found the incongruity of the Arab vineyard next to it with the claim of "return" very disturbing.
Next we experienced the well-produced Sound and Light Show in Kfar Etzion.
After that we had dinner at the "foot" of Efrat, in a rustic setting, catered by "Shifon," Neve Daniel. Of course, we're all familiar with the original "Shifon Bakery" in Adam, near us.
Then a neighbor drove me home, straight to the door.
Baruch Hashem and Shabbat Shalom.