Yesterday I took the girls of Machon Shoshanah on their first big tour of the year! We headed out from the seminary in Ramat Shlomo Jerusalem at 7 am for the Golan Heights.
Nachal El Al Hike
After a long drive from Jerusalem we arrived in the beautiful village of Avnei Eitan for our hike in the Nachal El Al. The Nachal El Al is a very beautiful ravine with fresh water running all year round. The banks of the stream are lined with fruit trees such as pomegranate, fig, grapes, date palms, blackberries and more! Besides the fruit trees, there are many other fascinating plants such as the Aravos (willow) that we use in our Lulav on Sukkos. We learned about many of these plants as we hiked.
Soon we arrived at the “Black Waterfall”. This is one of the two waterfalls in the Nachal El Al. It is named after the black basalt rock. We stopped for a while to let the girls cool off in the beautiful fresh water.
When we were done at the waterfall we hiked back up. If we had a longer day, we would have done the full 4 hour hike to the “White Waterfall” (named after its white limestone), and then up to the village of Eli Ad. But since the sun sets so early this time of the year, we did a short hike so we could get in more sites!
Um al Kanater Ancient Synagogue
Our next stop was 15 minutes away at the ancient synagogue of Um al Kanter. This is an impressive synagogue from the time of the Talmud. The archeologists have been very busy for the last few years reconstructing it from its original stones. They used advanced computer technology to map all of the stones and figure out where each stone belongs before they began the process of restoring it to its original glory. The project will take a few more years to complete but each time I visit I am excited to see the progress!
Gamla is the site of an Historic stand against the Romans during the Great Revolt. We visited the national park of Gamla where we learned the story of this important site while standing at a viewpoint overlooking the ancient city. Gamla was a Jewish city that was started during the Hellenistic period. It was built on a steep ridge with deep valleys on both sides. It ends in a cliff. It was approachable from one side only and had a high wall all around making it very difficult to conquer.
In one of the early battles of the Great Revolt, Vespasian laid siege to the city. After a heroic battle the city finally fell to the Romans. The Jewish inhabitants fought bravely to the last man and were finally forced off the cliffs with their swords still in hand.
From the lookout point we could see the place of the ancient synagogue of Gamla as well as the remnants of the city walls and towers.
After learning about the history of Gamla, we strolled over to the “Vulture Lookout”. This is a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the Nachal Delayot. Often you can see birds of prey such as large vultures soaring over the ravine. On this trip we didn’t see any, but we took advantage of the spectacular view!
Kumzitz on the Beach of the Kinneret
As the sun was getting ready to set, we stopped at a beach on the coast of the Kinneret to Daven Mincha and for the girls to have a Kumzitz with their counselors. The view as the sun set was simply breathtaking!
As an added bonus, a family of Rock Hyraxes (“Shfanim” in Hebrew) joined us! This gave me an opportunity to tell the girls a bit about this special animal which is native to the Land of Israel and mentioned in several places in the Tanach.
Tomb of the Rambam
Before we started the long drive back to Jerusalem, we stopped of at the Tomb of the Rambam in Tiveria. We spoke about the great importance of the Rambam and about his tremendous love for Eretz Yisrael. We had the opportunity to say a prayer at his tomb as well as at the adjacent tombs of Raban Yochanan ben Zakai and the Shloh Hakadosh! When we were done we all got back on the bus for the drive back to Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem.
An Awesome One Day Tour in the Golan Heights!
It was a great honor for me to guide these girls on their first real Tiyul in Eretz Yisrael. I look forward to the rest of our tours together this year!
If you would like to go on an awesome tour of the Golan Heights, contact me here!