by Judy Farron 5.11.08
I have been visiting Israel for the past thirteen years – ever since my daughter, Juliana, at the age of 23 decided to take a 5-month Ulpan program on a religious kibbutz. She stayed on that kibbutz (Kvutzat Yavne), married Shachar, a Yemenite Israeli and they now have four gorgeous children.
Two years ago, on one of my Israeli visits, Juliana said, “Mom, you have to see this documentary on TV. They take a group of Israeli women, put them in teams of four, give each team a Jeep and drive off-road in different countries for a week.” The next evening this documentary, Desert Queen, aired on Israeli TV. At the end of the show, I turned to Julie and said, “I have to participate in one of these expeditions. I want to be a Desert Queen.”
In the June 2008 issue of “L’Chayim” there was an article announcing a special Desert Queen expedition in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary. The expedition was offered through the Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2000 Program in combination with Geographic Tours (the company that created and produce the Desert Queen project). This expedition would be the first to stay inside Israel (a week in the Negev) and also the first to include women from outside Israel. The online application said, “Participants are put to the test as individuals – and no less important – as a team.” It specified only that applicants, “…like the outdoors, be physically fit, enjoy coping with challenges, be over 20 years old and have a valid driver’s license.” I filled out and submitted the application immediately, printed out the medical form my physician needed to sign and waited impatiently for a response which was to come around July 1.