Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Golan Heights...Take One

Shalom, chaverim! Boy, it's been busy here lately. We spent a very interesting and entirely FREEZING Shabbat last week with other Nefesh B'Nefesh members of the Go North program. This retreat, which went from Friday morning till sundown on Saturday, was held at a conference center in "Moshav Keshet," which is in the Golan Heights and very near the Syrian border. A moshav is a kind of intentional community, that can be most closely compared to a kibbutz. I won't say anything more about defining a moshav, however, because that's all I know about it!

This particular moshav had a dairy and a conference center, though, and was in a beautiful setting. We met with about 200 other olim from North America, and it was wonderful to compare stories and trade tips with everyone. There were interesting presentations, plenty of services, and LOTS of delicious food. Sadly, though, I don't have any pictures. I didn't remember to take any until after sundown on Friday, and then it was too late! But we will definitely visit the region again. The Kinneret, aka the Sea of Galilee, is very beautiful indeed. The area is home to not only dairies and a thriving honey industry, but also is home to many wineries. We tried to visit one before the retreat started, but got there just five minutes too late. When things close down for Shabbat in the Golan Heights, they really mean it!

The Sea of Galilee. I didn't take this picture, but it looks as if it was taken from the same road we were on. (Copyright www.finephotos.com)

Coming back from the retreat on Saturday night, we took a small detour and went through Sfat (also spelled  Safed, Tzfat, Tsfat, Zfat, Safad, Safes, Safet, etc.). Sfat is one of the four holy cities of Israel and is also considered to be the center of learning for Jewish mysticism and Kaballah. It has a thriving artistic scene and somewhat Bohemian/New Age vibe, as well as numerous groups of Ultra Orthodox Jews.

These latter Jews did make me turn my head, as the men have certain dress requirements that can include large fur hats called "streimels,", black breeches, and sometimes white or black stockings. Even more startling was to see one of these men after Shabbat, walking down the street while listening to his ipod! We stopped for a post-Shabbat libation at the charmingly named "Messi Bar," and marvelled at the juxtaposition of the ancient architecture, the people on the street, and the bar crowd--who was busy drinking, smoking, listening to "The Eye of the Tiger" on the radio and watching an Israeli football match on television. What can I say...Israel rocks!

Finally, after that freezing night in Keshet, I'd finally had enough of trying to get through these winter nights wearing my short-sleeved cotton nightshirt from Boca. Yesterday we went searching for an affordable something that was much warmer. We found it. And, well, um, let's just say my new sleepwear is indeed warmer and affordable!

"Big Pharma Enraged as Israeli Fashion House Enters Birth Control Market"

Now that we can always be assured of getting a good night's sleep (Elul certainly won't be bothering me in this getup, ever again), we'll be well prepared for Ulpan, which starts tomorrow. Yikes! It goes from 8:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., five days a week, for five months. Since we don't have an alarm clock, we've begun using Elul's Israeli cellphone for one. Because we programmed it to have all the commands and messages written in English instead of Hebrew, we were startled to hear the "speaking alarm clock" speaking to us in a decidedly snotty English accent!

Wish us luck tomorrow, and for the next five months, please! And as usual, if these pictures aren't showing up in your email feed, please go to www.movingtonahariya.blogspot.com to see them. Shalom!


  1. A moshav is a collection of farms that forms a cooperative. A kibbutz is a communal farm. Not as many of either as there once were.

    1. You are so right on all three counts, Knute. This particular moshav seemed to be quite comfortable and successful, but the kibbutz and moshav movement(s) have really had their ups and downs over the years.


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