17,000 Participate in Israel’s Annual Spring Hike to Jerusalem

Over 17,000 persons arose at dawn today to begin the annual four-day Israel route march to Jerusalem–a traditional, spring physical fitness program. The march began at Hulda Forest near Tel Aviv and is to proceed along a circular route back to Hulda for the first two days. It will then continue on to Jerusalem, where the city’s residents plan to greet the participants as they finish their hike Thursday afternoon.

The organizers of the trek, the Army’s Central Command, have provided mobile synagogues to serve the hikers for morning and evening prayers. Other mobile facilities include a shoe repair shop, soup canteens and first aid stations. In addition to the Israeli groups taking part, several contingents from abroad, including African students, Finnish girls and two lone Englishmen, have joined the march. A group of diplomats from the United States Embassy here also fell into the line today.

On the eve of the event the encampment in the woods resembled a carnival as the participants arrived with packs on their backs and set up their tents. Martial music and announcements blared from loudspeakers as hikers arranged final details.

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