Yesterday we went to mom’s old kibbutz, (Beit haEmaek) and hung out with Noemi (her kibbutz mother) and Abby (her friend). I liked this kibbutz better than Ein Gedi because I didn’t feel like I was on the outside looking in (like I did at Ein Gedi). At Beit haEmaek we had a snack at Noemi’s, walked around the kibbutz, and then we hung out at Abby’s.
The kibbutz was really fun it was cool to see how people live together in a big community even though it has changed; people now own their houses and have their own piece of land instead of all sharing.
Mike: We woke up early this morning to get an early start to the day. Despite our best intentions, we still didn’t get out the door until 10:30.
Jody: That’s because Israelis don’t have real showers. There is a giant bathtub with a seat in the corner but no curtain or door around it. In order for me and the girls to wash our hair we had to lean over the edge of the tub and have someone hold the sprayer! Then to clean your body, you sit in the seat and hold the sprayer. It makes for a big mess in the bathroom!
Mike: Our first stop of the day was at the ancient ruins of Baram. The old synagogue was high in the mountains and had a decent portion of the building still standing. There were several other buildings that were part of the overall village dating back to the third century. The views were amazing from there.
Jody: It was pretty incredible to see the synagogue with so much of the building still intact. In many of the ancient ruins we’ve seen you they’ve either rebuilt or you have to use your imagination.
Mike: The second stop of the day was the Galil Mountain Winery in Yiron near the Lebanese border. We had a private tour of the winery including a step-by-step lesson of how the various wines are made. Galil gets their grapes from several kibbutz vineyards in the region and it is up to the master vintner (who studied at Cal-Davis where they also have a great masters program in brewing) to blend the wines to get the perfect combination. I’ve decided that if this whole app development thing doesn’t work out, I’m going to be a master vintner…I’ll start by mixing different kinds of Two-Buck-Chuck in my basement. The tour concluded with a wine tasting which proved to be an educational experience.
Jody: The girls were quite surprised that they were each poured a glass of wine and taught how to use their 5 senses to see if the wine was any good. Up until the actual tasting of the wine they thought it was cool. They both thought the wine tasted gross. Turns out Elizabeth has a good nose for smelling the bouquet!
From Yiron we followed the Lebanese border North for awhile which led to lots of conversations with the kids about the safety of Israel’s borders. I’ve squeezed in quite a few mid-East history lessons (which surprises Mike because I’m terrible when it comes to Americna history!) After a picnic lunch of humus, cucumbers, kosher salami, loquats and apple, we went to Kiryat Shmona which is in the Golan Heights. We took a cable car ride up a mountain overlooking the Hula valley which is lush with fish ponds and fields of green. The ride was really steep and Mike is a little bit hinky about heights, so it was fun to watch him look out the window. We were amazed by the number of religious (black hats) people that were there to enjoy the amusements. Mike & the kids went on this sort of roller coaster/alpine ride thingy. They controlled the brakes – which I don’t think they used at all- and went flying around this track. The dudes with the peot (side curls) had to take off their kippot or they would go flying. They were given baseball caps to wear instead.
There was a bungi jumping spot also and when it was time to daven ma’ariv (afternoon prayers) they were all gathered facing the bungee jumping and shukiling (rocking back and forth while praying) like crazy! I guess it must have been facing east towards Jerusalem, but it was a pretty funny site.
We left there and headed across the Golan to the Syrian border to see an ancient castle (Nimrod Fortress) it was pretty impressive as we were driving towards it, but when we found that there was an entrance fee we turned around and drove back down the moutnatin. This whole region is mountainous and the views are absolutely spectacular.
We drove up, down and around so many moutnatins today I lost count. For much of the drive we were able to see Mt. Hermon which is in the northeast corner of Israel and is al mountain made out of limestone- actually has skiing! We could see the snow, which was weird because it was about 75 degrees where we were.
The last stop before heading back for dinner, was Har Bentar which is a mountain on top of an ancient volcano. From the top you can see into Syria. There is a new set of wind turbines nearby that provide power to 400,000 Israeli homes! We learned a bit about the past wars with Syria and the disengagment. We also noticed more army vehicles in this area then anywhere else in the country even though it’s a very quiet border.
A nice surprise for me was driving by Kibbutz Gadot which was the first place I stayed in Israel in 1985 with the Let’s Go Israel folks from the North Shore. Tomorrow night we are having dinner with a friend, Yaron Golan, who was a kibbutznik that we hung out with that summer.
Dinner was in a druze village (Tarbusha) at a Romanian/Hungarian restaurant called Transylvania. The owner spent a year studying cooking in Romania and the place is beautiful. We tried to eat there last night but he was closed (he was there but wasn’t working) because he had worked so hard during Passover. When we came in tonight he remembered us and brought us a plate of homemade tabouli on the house. In the end he told us not to tip him either, but of course we did. He didn’t speak a lot of English and the menu was only in Hebrew. I’ve had a blast speaking Hebrew all over the place and when someone really doesn’t speak English it’s that much easier for me.
We came back and packed up because tomorrow is our last night. The suitcases are all organized so we only have to bring one little one in to our friends apartment in Tel Aviv. I’m sad that this amazing adventure is coming to an end!!