I recently guided two families from Boston on a whirlwind tour to the Golan Heights. They were in Israel for a really short time for a Bar Mitzvah. They had been in Israel several times before but never been to The Golan Heights. They were staying in the King David Hotel and needed to be back that night. Here’s what we did:
Drive North on the Jordan Valley Road
We headed out from Jerusalem at 8 am sharp! We wanted to take the Jordan Valley road north in order to avoid any traffic on the way up. From Jerusalem, you travel down towards the Dead Sea before you head north. So we made a quick stop at the Sea Level Marker, where some of my guests got to take their picture on a camel!
As we continued down we could see Jericho on our left. I told them the story of Jewish People sending spies into Jericho before the crossed the Jordan River to enter the Land. It was especially nice since we were touring in the month of Nisan, the same month when this happened!
After Jericho, we headed north and passed Kaser al Yehud, the traditional site where the Jordan River split for the Jews to cross.
When we got to Beit Shean, we made a quick pit stop at the Kosher Mehadrin CafeCafe restaurant. We had put in an order ahead of time for our lunch. They had it all packed up and waiting for us so we could take it with us to eat in the Golan.
Talmudic Village Katzrin
Our first stop in the Golan was at the Talmudic Village in Katzrin.
This is an original Jewish Village from the time of the Mishnah! What makes it even more unique is that when the archaeologists were finished excavating it, they reconstructed several of the homes using the original stones. They also furnished the homes with dishes, tools and furniture that replicates what Jews used in the time of the Mishnah. We entered the homes and I demonstrated how the these things were used in everyday life.
In the center of the village is a monumental synagogue. We discussed how synagogues retain their holiness even when they are destroyed. I also showed them different artist renditions of what the synagogue would have looked like when it was standing.
We had our bagged lunch at the picnic tables outside the park. The weather was perfect!
Golan Heights Visitor’s Center
After lunch we headed over to the Golan Heights visitor’s center. We enjoyed a 180 degree multi-media presentation about the sites and sounds of the Golan. Also they have a gigantic topographical map that illustrates the history of the different wars over the Golan Heights.
One of the most beautiful places in the Golan Heights is the suspended trail over the Banias River. The Banias River is one of the three sources of the Jordan River (the others are the Chatzbani and the Dan). The river issues from a cave in the north of Israel. As it cuts through the hard black basalt stones of the Golan it creates a beautiful scenery. The suspended trail is a short hike (30-60) that lets you see some of the most striking parts of the river.
We were very lucky to be visiting in the spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom. We saw many purple cyclamens, red anemones, and yellow mustard flowers among many others. The entire area was painted in many colors!
Dinner and walking tour in Tiberias
We ended the day in Tiberias. We started out our tour there with a visit to the Tomb of Maimonides (The Rambam), perhaps the greatest figure in the last 2,000 years of Jewish history! He is buried right next to other greats from our history like the Shloh Hakadosh and Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai.
We had dinner at a restaurant in the downtown promenade near the lake, followed by a short walking tour of the Old City of Tiberias. After our walking tour we headed back to Jerusalem and were back at the King David Hotel by 10:30.
All in all it was a really great day. I always encourage my clients to give at least two days for a visit to the Golan Heights since there is so much driving to get there. But this tour was a great example of what you can do even if you only have one day!
I would love to take you on a tour in the Golan Heights as well! Contact me for more details.