Scott Sitner-Qiryat Shemona-North Israel-December 2018
Today was the first day I felt, sort of following the dinner last night with the Israeli family, that I felt like I was in Israel as part of a Jewish trip as opposed to just doing some sightseeing and seeing some interesting places. I am not sure if this was done intentionally. with a family visit and then more immersion in our and Israel’s history but if it was it worked. After a decidedly mediocre breakfast compared to the Hilton in Tel Aviv(these things mater I’m sorry, I miss fruit), we signed up to go on a jeep ride through the Golan Heights, which is of course the site of many of the border wars, including 1967 and Yom Kippur war of1973.
Where we were driving was originally Lebanon and the driver pointed out exactly where the battles took place, pointing out where the soldiers sat in bunkers before the battles shooting Israeli citizens just a mile away at random and just because they were Jews. The hills were filled with leftover land mines, bunkers] and evidence of the wars that took place. This was fascinating to see where the real formation of this area took place, where the fight for the borders happened and to think what would have happened if Israel had not been successful. Today these areas are filed with commerce, tourism, kibbutzim and the like, but we were told how strange it was that the citizens live in constant apprehension of more fights in the future, knowing that your enemy is just a few miles away and would like nothing more than for you to not be there.
The land itself is now fertile and green, pastures and such. One of the rainy areas so very pretty and hilly, which made it good for war.One of the other interesting political aspects is that Israel has very strict gun control laws, that to own even a handgun requires an application and a strict review of the applicant. Even soldiers have to return their weapons when they are concluded with their service. Israelis just don’t generally even think about owing guns, such a contrast with other countries and interesting especially in border communities with a constant threat of warWe next took a walk through a forest and river area, reminded me of areas in Northern Michigan. Pretty hike, but I think because we were there because it was something to do. We then stopped at a kibbutz for lunch and shoe shopping. Really, I can’t even say much more. They were not even cheaply priced shoes, can’t really explain, it felt a little like a cruise ship port where the cruise staff gets a little kick back from the shopkeepers. I don’t think that happened but it was a little odd. In defense, the shoes were made in Israel.Our last part of the day was in a little artist community called Tsaft. We had a brief lecture from an artist and then had a few long hours to walk the market area. Some of the art was both stunning and stunningly expensive, thousands and thousands for certain pieces, thankfully shipping included….
Much of it was local art, which was nice to see but it sort of again felt like a stop on a cruise ship. What was cool was the history of the city, it was originally conceived by the romans thousands of years ago but became truly populated around 500 years ago The streets and buildings were laid bricks from centuries before and the streets had character that you cannot see much of today. That made the stop worthwhile, and a whiskey tasting with my oldest child while my father watched. Worth the price of admission alone.We also spent some time in a centuries old synagogue. It is fascinating to think that people worshipped there 400 or more years ago and that parts of it still were being used. Again this was one of the things that ties the trip to jewish history and culture and heightens the reasons for being here. The city has housed jews for thousands of years and remains a central part of our history.
Dinner at the hotel was lame.