Skip to main content

Men’s Interfaith Mission – May 2019: Masada

The Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix is hosting an interfaith men’s mission of community leaders to Israel to develop a better understanding of our cultures and forge relationships that can benefit our local and global community.

by Tony Wanger, Entrepreneur and Investor

A day after we visited Yad VaShem and Mount Hertzl, we traveled south along the Dead Sea to Masada. The scenery is breathtaking, the Dead Sea sparkling green, turquoise and blue as we drive by. It is the lowest point on earth at 1412 feet below sea level. In Israel, seas, mountains and salt lakes form a land that people have found holy for millennia.

At Masada National Park, we found the ancient ruin in remarkable shape. Several of our group made their way up nearly 1,300 vertical feet on the ancient Snake Path to reach the fortress and I took the tram.

The top of Masada is an unbelievable campus of rock-hewn fortifications, rooms and advanced water systems. It’s bright and hot, yet somehow there is a cool breeze. The view is amazing from atop this legendary fortress rising from the desert floor with formidable steep sides.

After Masada, we had a huge lunch at Harod’s Hotel which is more like 1975 Miami. The once swanky hotel was celebrating Mud Day and providing free samples of Dead Sea mud and beer.

We hung out on the beach, floated in the Dead Sea and just relaxed after the physical and mental toll of our Masada visit.

Later, we celebrated Havdalah at the Western Wall. Marty performed a beautiful prayer and we ended Shabbat on a good note with some wine. We then went to an amazing condo overlooking the Old City and had a fantastic dinner prepared by Chef Lior Hafzadi. The food was outstanding.

Former Phoenix Sun and all around great guy Amare Stoudemire joined us for dinner. He was a great addition to the group. He hung out with us for several hours. We ended the evening with nice cigars and great conversation.