For the last three days I was on a little trip up to the north of Israel on a study trip. We focused a lot on what it mean to be a pioneer in the early part of the 1900's and even today when things like the Moshavim and Kibbutzim are struggling. We also learned about the reasons that these parts of the north are so crucial to Israel as a state for their safety. I'm going to write another blog later focusing on some of the politics associated with the trip, Rabin's Yartzeit (the anniversary of his death on the Jewish Calendar) and on the peace process. The focus of this post is more on what we did.
On the first day we actually got to leave Israel and go into Jordan. We were looking at the hydro-electric power plant that was build on the border between the two countries. The plant worked for a while, but in the end it fell apart. Very interesting though to see the different attempts at building the country.
We also checked out a moshav, like a kibbutz but everyone can have their own property, to learn about their history. In Kriat Shmoneh and Tel Hai we looked at some of the hard work that other pioneers had to do to set up their roots in different places on the outskirts of Israel. Interestingly, only about 8% of jobs are located in this periphery of the country.
One of the coolest places we visited was Tel Dan. The beautiful park reminded me of home so much. I really want to go for a hike somewhere with forests here. The was a rushing river and lots of trees. Man I miss Minnesota sometimes. In Tel Dan there is an excavation site where archeologists have found an ancient Israelite Temple. By Israelite I mean the Kingdom of Israel that existed after Solomon's successor caused a massive civil war and split the kingdom into Israel in the north and Judah in the south.
In the tel there is evidence of a temple that is a smaller version of the one that is in Jerusalem. It has space for an altar for sacrifices and is set up as a place for the people of Israel (the ones I was talking about earlier) to visit during the year. But the big find there is the arch that was been dated to the time that we think the patriarchs (Abraham and so on) were alive. This would have been the city of Laish and it was really cool to see the restoration of the mud-brick arch.
One of the nights we got to go on a night safari in the Hula Valley. Unfortunately we didn't see to many animals there. There was some kind of a cat that we couldn't identify, crabs, frogs, cranes and something that looked like a muskrat. Wednesday night finished with a bonfire and song session. I hadn't planned on playing anything, but Yoshi had brought the drum along so I volunteered to play with the song leaders. I really need to buy my own here sometime soon.
At one point in the trip we had the option to either go to the Naot shop on a kibbutz up north, or to go to the Golan Heights and look into Syria. I chose the Golan, which was a good idea for me. It was awesome to look towards Syria and Lebanon at the same time from up there. On the way up there were some really statues that were made of shrapnel and scrap metal. There are remnants of when the Bental post was used in military operations, and we got to learn some about the history of the place.
Towards the end of the trip we also got to hear about a really interesting group called Ayilim. They are a group of students at Tel Hai University that live in the community of K'riat Sh'moneh. They try to work to rebuild the community that was really run down and since they are near borders, they have been hit by bombs, especially during the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. They are a very interesting group that seems to being doing a lot for the community they are living in, and there are other communities throughout the country.
That's all for now. I will be writing a blog about this trip for TCJewfolk with a different focus. Be sure to check it out there when I get that up and running.