Jewish Mysticism, Kibbutz and the Golan Heights

Trip Start Apr 19, 2010
Trip End Jun 06, 2010

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Flag of Israel  , Galilee,
Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jacqui and I had signed up an optional tour to the Golan Heights. We first stopped at the holy city of Safed, the centre of the mystical Kabbala.  We wandered through the streets and into a thriving artists' colony, along the way we visited an ancient synagogue and then off to a second synagogue where we witnessed a bar mitzvah.  The bar mitzvah was fun and the participants invited us to celebrate with them, providing some of the sweets they had prepared.

After exploring and admiring the artist's efforts, we headed off to have lunch at a Kibbutz in the shadow of the Golan Heights.  One of the members took us on a tour of the kibbutz.  She grew up on this kibbutz originally coming from Brazil and arriving here as a small child.  She explained that this was one of the last kibbutzim to change from  communal to private ownership. She showed us the bomb shelters that they needed when the heights were controlled by the Syrians who used to shoot on a regular basis down from the heights to the kibbutz below.  They had to build hills so that they could walk to the fields without being shot.  It certainly was a sobering thought that this kibbutz was so exposed to unfriendly fire.

We had lunch in the main dining hall.  The food was produced on the kibbutz and was very good.  Afterwards we travelled to the Golan Heights.

First stop was the Mount Bet Tal, site of a Syrian bunker and now under Israeli control.  This was an important strategic site in both the Six Day War and the  1973 Yom Kippur War as it commands a view over the entire valley below.

After dwelling on war and the futility of it all, we were off to visit a winery in the heights.  Apparently the Golan Heights is ideal for growing grapes and is now producing some world class wines here.  It was a fun tour of the winery and an enjoyable tasting at the end.  Some of the group purchased some wines either for immediate enjoyment or to take home, although, I think that might be more trouble than it is worth.
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