The Road to Masada


The Road to Masada is the image for November 2018 in my new calendar,  The Jewish Eye 5778/2018 Calendar of Art.  This is the only landscape I’ve ever painted entirely from memory.  There was no way to take a night photo as we drove along the base of these cliffs in Israel’s Judean Desert.  We had little over an hour until dawn, and were racing the sunrise, eager to climb the “snake path” to the top of Masada in time to watch the sun rise over the Dead Sea.
We left Jerusalem around 3am on a hot August night, and quickly made our way east and south toward Qumran, near the northern tip of the Dead Sea.  From there the road borders the sea, following the base of a succession of towering mesas.  The road is visible at the bottom of the painting as a narrow purplish ribbon – a two-lane highway which indicates the scale of the land.

My friend drove, while I opened my window, put my seat back and gazed upward at the giant sentinels that towered above me, many stories high, appearing to slide past as if we were on a ship passing great icebergs in the night.  I struggled to grasp the idea that Abraham is believed to have traveled here on foot over three millennia before our rented car came chugging along; that David sought refuge here before he was king; that the shepherds of Qumran grazed their sheep in this desert and drank this night air.  I gazed upward as we drove, and took it all in.  For the painting I knew would take shape, I memorized to the best of my ability every color, every shape, the immense silence, the unfathomable passage of time that manifests in this desert.

At 4:30am it was still dark as we pulled into the Masada national monument parking lot.  The temperature was already over 90 degrees (Fahrenheit).  We made it to the top just as the sun rose over the hills of  Jordan on the far side of the Dead Sea.

The Jewish Eye 5778 / 2018 Calendar of Art  is on sale in the new Jewish section of my website:  $16 until the end of Sukkot, including shipping within the continental U.S.  $18 on Amazon.

The Jewish Eye Calendar of Art makes a thoughtful and inspiring gift.

A good week to all!

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of
THE JEWISH EYE 2018 / 5778 Calendar of ArtNew!!
LOVE IS – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVEExplore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!

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