BAR managed to locate Michal, who is now nearly 30 years old and the mother of two children, a daughter Na’ama, 5, and a son Shaul, 2 ½ months. Michal teaches literature in a Jerusalem high school.
She was chosen for the descent into the cave in Machpelah in 1967 because she was extremely thin. (She still is.) Dayan knew Michal’s father, a senior security officer, who suggested his daughter for the job after a thin soldier had tried unsuccessfully to squeeze through the 11-inch shaft.
Michal vividly remembers the incident. Her father asked her if she would go down into the cave of Machpelah to measure it archaeologically and photograph it. She knew about archaeology even then—and, of course, she knew about the cave of Machpelah. She had also explored some caves on the many tiyulim or trips her family had taken throughout Israel.
Was she scared to go down alone into the cave of Machpelah? “No, not at all.” She was excited and curious and liked being the center of the event. It is clear she must have been a supremely self-assured and self-confident young girl.
Twice she was lowered down the shaft during that eventful evening. The first time she took a candle to make sure there was enough oxygen in the cave. The second time, she took a flashlight and a camera.
At the bottom of the shaft she found herself in a small room. Coins and petitionary notes that had been dropped down the shaft were scattered on the floor. She measured and photographed the room and proceeded down a low corridor to another room and some steps, which she also measured and photographed. Her work accomplished, she returned to the shaft and was pulled up by the rope.
Did she think she might find Abraham’s bones? “No, I was under no illusions,” she said. “But I was very pleased.”