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Where the Blue Sea meets the Green Galil - our annual overnight trip to the North

News Date: 
18. June 2017 - 8:00
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On a sunny day in May ESRA travelers boarded our bus for a 2-day overnight trip to the Western ‎coast and Galil.‎ First stop was the unique Tunisian Synagogue in Akko, the result of 54 years of ‎work of local resident Zion Badasche.

The Synagogue ‘Or Torah’ in Akko, known as the "Jariva, boasts ‎‎7 Torah arks with engraved silver doors. The walls inside and out are covered with mosaics made from hundreds of millions of natural stones from all ‎over Israel, ‎depicting the history of the Jewish people and of ‎the Land of Israel through Bible stories, flora and fauna, IDF corps and more.
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Next stop was the mosaic floor at Moshav Shavei Zion situated near the lovely beach promenade. ‎These remains from a Byzantine-era church were discovered in 1955 and dated to the 4th century. ‎The excavations include an Artesian aquifer which serviced both the fishing village located nearby ‎and pilgrims who stopped on their way to and from Lebanon.‎

hacienda_banana.jpgAfter leaving the mosaic floors we made our way from “the Blue Sea to the Green Galil”, to ‎Moshav Betzet to visit Idan and Nadav. This young couple decided to combine their life experience ‎and academic knowledge to develop a business producing 100% natural dried fruit with no ‎preservatives, sugar or gluten. They call their business “Idan Hapri” (“Fruit Age”), also a pun on her ‎name, focusing healthy and tasty foods. ‎
Idan gave us a tour of the banana plantation and explained about the various types and how they ‎grow. In the product display area she gave us another interesting and informative talk on dried ‎fruit, with an opportunity to taste. We were then able to browse and buy in the shop.‎

Our next stop was Mi’ilya, one of two villages in the Galil which are solely Christian Melkite Greek ‎Catholics. It enjoys a high socio-economic standard of living (compared to Moslem communities) ‎and many of its residents are professionals.‎
Mi'ilya was built over the ruins of the 12th century fortress, built by the Crusader King Baldwin III, ‎and called the "King's Fortress" (Chateau de Roi, Castellum Regis). The site was previously a large ‎Bronze and Iron age city, identified as "Aloth", one of the cities of King Solomon. During the 17th ‎Century a group of Greek Catholics migrated from Lebanon to the village, and its former Muslim ‎residents moved out to a nearby village (Tarshiha) and their mosque was leveled. In 1845 they built ‎the Church on top of the hill on the ruins of the Crusader fortress, naming it after The Virgin Mary.‎

Our overnight destination was “The Hacienda Forest View” just outside Ma’alot-Tarshiha, a lovely ‎place in a pastoral setting of rich green woods. ‎

After an excellent breakfast we drove to Kfar Vradim - our guide Adina explained the background ‎of this lovely “village of roses” founded by Stef Wertheimer as part of the Tefen Industrial Park.‎

hacienda_plia_kf._vr..jpgThe house of Sara and Avraham "Hatzadik" Heil stands out because of its extraordinary structure. ‎The house, built by Avraham himself, and all the rooms, are round, and the ceilings are ‎domed.  Avraham, a convert of English descent, and Sara, a Jew of Bukharan descent, decided to ‎dedicate the building to the people of Sara's community. ‎
Now called the Plia Center for Bukharian Jews, visitors are greeted by Bukharan music and Sara ‎introduces herself, in perfect English, and tells the family story in an extremely amusing and ‎entertaining way.‎
She recalls that when she came to Israel at the age of 6, her parents clothed her in traditional ‎clothes and she became a laughing stock in the eyes of the Israeli born children and felt very ‎embarrassed. She decided to disassociate herself from her Bukharan heritage."‎
While Andrew was building the house, he discovered Judaism and decided to convert. He changed ‎his name to Avraham, the couple became more religious and Sara also returned to her Bukharan ‎roots.‎
The sudden death of her daughter 'Plia'' who died nine weeks after birth, drove her to open the ‎center in her daughter’s name. From that time, the house has been open to visitors, displaying ‎photos of Sara's family and many traditional artefacts of the Jews of Bukhara.‎

In the Druze town of Hurfeish we visited the Heritage Center in memory of Colonel Nabiya Mer'i ‎who was the highest-ranking Druze officer killed in the course of his Military service during the ‎period that followed the Oslo agreements. The heritage center teaches not only about the image ‎of a commander in the IDF, but also about the connection of the Druze Community within ‎the IDF and Israeli society.‎

The final visit of the trip - the highlight of the 2 days, was at Kibbutz Ga’aton where we watched a ‎rehearsal of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. KCDC is one of the leading dance ‎companies in the world, founded in 1973 by the late Yehudit Arnon who laid the foundation for a ‎first-class center for dance. The International Dance Village comprises nearly 80 Israeli and ‎international dancers with international study abroad programs called Dance Journey. There are ‎also year-round and summer intensive courses for both international and Israeli dancers.‎

Founder, Yehudit was born in Kumarno, Czechoslovakia and survived WWll as a young girl in the ‎Auschwitz death camp. On liberation she moved to Budapest and joined Hashomer Hatsa’ir. In ‎‎1948, together with her husband Yedidia, she arrived in Israel with the first group of pioneers from ‎Hungary, who established Kibbutz Ga’aton in Western Galilee. ‎

To view the full collection of pictures taken by Dr. Hylton Bark follow this link ‎https://1drv.ms/p/s!Agd1EJMmAnaFgYEqClwX1GAN-I1H2Q