Why I live in Tekoa - Part one

Why I live in Tekoa - Part one

Seth Mandell

Why I live in Tekoa - Part one

The other day I decided to jog around Tekoa.  There is a dirt security road encircling the community that looks out over Wadi Tekoa, the magnificent gorge that travels from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.  It is the gorge we take a midnight hike through on Koby's Yarhtzeit.  It is the gorge in which Koby and Yosef were murdered.

I am running down a wide dirt path.  To my right are the trailers and newly built homes of Tekoa Bet, the second stage of this West Bank community.  To my left an uneven field of olive trees sprawls down the side of a steep grade. 

At the moment I'm mostly concentrating on conserving my energy before tackling the long uphill patch stretched out in front of me.   I see some goats and the heads of their Shepard sitting in the tall grass next to them.  The goats are close enough to see their horns and I think for a moment that they are the small deer that sometime run through the valley.   What a great place to run I thought to myself, fresh air, a world-class view and wild deer.  

As I reach the beginning of the upgrade I catch a movement out of the corner of my eye.  One of the young goats standing not much higher than my knee, is running after me.  I think two things simultaneously.  One, obviously, this is a goat, not a deer.  And two, what is the proper etiquette when being chased by someone else's goat? Do I keep running and lead it away from its flock?  Will it stop and return?  Will the Shepard have to run after it?    I stop and the goat stops. The Shepard, who turns out to be a boy I recognize from the Yeshiva, or college of Jewish studies in Tekoa, is walking toward me, looking bemused.  Thinking that the goat will now return to its master I begin to run again, but as the boy comes trotting toward me seven or eight other goats of various sizes, color and genders, run in front of him and join me.  I stop, feeling bad for the Shepard and wait for him to catch up.  He runs in front of me, and begins waving at the goats to move them off the road and back toward the tall grass.  Reluctantly they all begin to move away, the Shepard leading.

I am relieved until I realize that my goat friend is still there.  I wave my arms at him.  He shies away but stays.   I jump up and down.  I scream.  He looks at me with sorrow. "Go away."  I say. "I don't need you to run with me.   I have my dog." My dog meanwhile, a local breed we call a desert dog, is up ahead looking at me as if trying to remind me we have unfinished business.  He loves to run.

I decide to listen to him and begin again.  Maybe I can out run this pest. I go a few yards and its obvious that not only can I not outrun him, but that he's happy to join me.  Meanwhile, the Shepard is 50 yards away, his back to me.  I yell to him, and when he turns toward me, I point down toward the goat.  The Shepard he comes walking toward me follows by his little pack.  "You should get some lessons tin how to be a Shepard," I say to him.  He shrugs.  He comes up and gives my nemesis a push and all the goats turn toward the valley.  I start to run.  They turn back toward me looking wistful like kids watching a friend eating an ice cream.  Finally I wait unto they are out of site and continue on my way. 

Only in Tekoa, I think. A long way from Silver Spring.

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