I am on a journey, to make Aliyah, and want to share my journey with my family, friends and anyone that is interested. I made the decision to make Aliyah in December 2002 and now I am actually doing it. This blog will chronicle my story and adventures leading up to getting on the plane and then the continuing story of the beginning of my new life in Israel and what I experience once there.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Vineyard

My cousins have started working on a new venture. They are planting a vineyard to grow grapes to be eventually used in the making of wine. They have just really got started and the plants are barely in the ground. I got to join them on Friday morning for a few hours of labor in the fields... I only put stakes in the ground to tie the plants to and I was tired. I have a lot more respect for the chalutzim that built the country from nothing and had to build the infrastructure and the buildings too!

The Biriya Forest

We stopped at Eden Springs an ancient Jewish town that has a clear water spring. After driving back across the Hula Valley, we then drove through the Biriya Forest where we were able to take in the views from the mountain looking into the Hula Valley, the ancient location of Amuka and the modern day location of Amuka. We visited the remains of a 1800 year old synagogue and Rhonda also took me to the grave of Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel a heavily visited grave thought to have powers for those that visit.

The Golan

After relaxing at Rhonda and Moshe's they became tour guides and we set off for the Golan Heights. We drove down the mountain into the Hula Valley , across the valley, crossing the Jordan river then ascending up the other side into the Golan Heights. We drove past pastures with animals grazing and kept going higher and higher. Eventually we arrived at Mount Bental, a former Syrian military site, later used by the Israelis and now is a tourist spot with amazing views. There is a restaurant on top called Coffee Anan, found this to be a little funny. From the top we could see into Syria and Lebanon off in the distance. The cultivated fields end where the border is now situated. Looking West from this vantage point shows how easy it was for the Syrians to shell the civilians in Israel when they had control of the high ground, and 140 or so civilians died from these shellings.

To the North

I went for the weekend to visit my cousin Rhonda and her husband Moshe. I got up early and headed for the junction (bus station) in Ra'anana. I got on the bus for a 3+ hour bus ride to the town of Rosh Pinna. Along the way the bus made many stops (70 I think) and one in Afula was for 10 minutes so people could get off and use the restroom get food, etc. I needed neither and sat on the bus and had a perfect view of Israeli graffiti. I saw this many times along the route but it was just honoring the people of Israel, so it didn't really feel like graffiti. (click on picture for full sized pic)

The bus ride took me from hot and humid to less hot and much less humid. The scenery was interesting to see as we passed through Israeli cities, towns, villages and smaller. There were arab and druze towns. The bus drove past fields of olives, bananas, grapes and who knows what else.

One thing I do want to note that is kinda of sad, so many Jewish communities, kibutzim, etc are surrounded with fences, gates, guards, etc. The arab towns had none of this. This tells me who is attacking who.

When I got to Teveria (Tiberias) I called Rhonda to let her know I was getting near. I was to call her when I got to Rosh Pinna as it is only a few minutes from her house. She arrived and we had a little difficulty finding each other (and the place is not that big) but after a few minutes on the phone we met up and headed off. Rhonda took me up into the old town of Rosh Pinna and we walked around the ancient cobblestone streets and enjoyed the views.

We then drove through the next town and turned up a one lane roughly paved road leading into the hills. I thought Rhonda was just taking me on a scenic drive (which it very much was) but she kept driving up the mountain. Also we are in the middle of a forest, The Biriya Forest, that was planted by hand in the 1950 by JNF. (All those cans did do something) By Israeli standards this is a forest, it is not as dense as what is thought of as a forest in North America, but there are still a LOT of trees. After driving up the mountain for like 10 minutes, back and forth, snaking our way, Rhonda announces we are in Amuka, where they live. This community only has 48 families, living in the woods at the peak of this part of the mountain. This community is very different from most Israeli towns. Each family has a nice piece of land that creates the feeling of isolation. There are wonderful breezes and the sounds of nature are all around. Five more minutes up the road is Tzfat (Safed) so it really isn't as isolated as it feels. The town has a library, a community center and a synagogue, if you need to buy anything, it's off to Tzfat or beyond...