The Dead Sea region is in Jerusalem’s backyard. Within a half hour of passing out of Jerusalem and into the Judean Desert we have descended 1200 meters (4,000′) to the lowest place on Earth, the Dead Sea. The Sea is fed by the lower Jordan River and it was not far from here that the Children of Israel crossed the dry river bed into the Holy Land.

We experience the sudden transition from green Jerusalem to the Judean Desert, the smallest desert in the world. Due to its quiet and proximity to the Holy City, it became, during Byzantine times a popular place for monks to live out one of the ideals of Christian life. Today we can see the remains of some of those places in the largest Jewish town in Judea, Maaleh Adumim. This community continues to expand, a bedroom community of Jerusalem, whose industrial area was home to a Soda Stream factory where both Palestinian Arabs and Jewish Israelis were employed side by side.