For quite some time until several years ago, some friends and I—all of us young adult women from English-speaking countries—used to hike in the Jerusalem Hills a few times during the spring. Our favorite hike started from Tel Tzuba, went down the hill near the Sataf spring, through the Jerusalem Hills to another spring known as Ein Hindak, and then to Hadassah Hospital and back to civilization. We would usually hike during the Passover holiday and again on Independence Day, with an election day thrown in if there was one, since election day is a holiday in Israel.
At one point during one of our hikes, we noticed a fork in the path up ahead. We began wondering which direction we should take, and then began reflecting on the various directions that our lives had taken since we had made the choice to live in Israel. Someone commented that we had all taken a road that is not usually taken... and from there it was but a short mental hop to Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.” “Does anyone remember it?” one of us asked. A quick check showed that between us, we remembered most if not all of it. A tradition quickly developed: at some point during our hikes, one of us would recite the poem for the group from beginning to end.
Today, I went on a walking tour offered by the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI). The route, which included part of the new Hadassah Trail, was very close to our old hike route. At one point, I stopped along the way to take some photos. After a few moments, I realized that the group had gone on ahead, toward a fork in the trail. They were still well within sight, but not within earshot... and as I walked to catch up, I watched as they took the path that went toward the left, back to civilization.
At that point, I couldn’t resist any longer. I invoked our group’s old tradition, reciting “The Road Not Taken” first silently and then sotto-voce, careful not to be seen or heard doing it lest anyone who saw me think I’d lost my marbles.
On the other hand, this was a hike sponsored by an organization dedicated to assisting immigrants from English-speaking countries... so it’s likely that they would have understood if they’d known.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.